Although Catherine Miranda was the front-runner for an appointment to her late husband's seat on Maricopa County Community Colleges governing board, it was longtime community leader Alfredo Gutierrez who nabbed the post today.
Gutierrez is a former state senator, a past gubernatorial candidate, and has been in Arizona's political arena for decades.
We haven't heard back from Maricopa County Superintendent of Schools Don Covey to ask how his office arrived at Gutierrez and why Miranda was knocked out of the running. His office said he would be tied up in meetings until late in the day.
Miranda, who was recommended by a panel of community college staff and officials, did not immediately return calls for comment.
Political insiders say questions may have been raised about whether Miranda, who is a state lawmaker and recently announced her candidacy for a District 27 seat in the Arizona Senate, could serve in both capacities at the same time.
Carlos Galindo-Elvira, chief development officer at Valle del Sol, was also a contender for the seat left vacant when Ben Miranda passed away in November of a heart attack.
He was among the three finalists vying to represent the Community College's District 5, which encompasses Estrella Mountain, Gateway, and South Mountain community colleges and the Maricopa Skill Center. There were initially nine candidates interested in the seat.
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In a statement, Galindo-Elvira said that while he was "disappointed with the outcome, the opportunity and pursuit for public service continues. I'm not dispirited. All in all, glad and proud that I dared."
Gutierrez and some of his friends and supporters met up for lunch this afternoon at El Portal, a south Phoenix restaurant owned by Earl Wilcox and his wife, Maricopa County Superintendent Mary Rose Wilcox.
"He's been a community leader and changer forever," said Jim Covarrubias, a renowned local artist, of Gutierrez. "He's fought for the same principals as Cesar Chavez and all our great Latino leaders."
Gutierrez said that his priority as a governing board member will be "making sure everyone of our kids has a way into this [educational] process, that it stays affordable, and the quality is absolutely the best."