Sharon Collins – a former teacher and current associate state superintendent of education with 10 years of working in Arizona’s education system – puts schools atop her issues list.
The Virginia native, a Tucsonan since 1988, said she believes Arizona needs to forge more public-private partnerships to get more computers and computer-savvy teachers into classrooms and more technologically astute kids out the doors.
Collins is one of four people vying for the Republican nomination in the Sept. 2 primary. Two will advance to the November general election where they will face Democrat Andrea Dalessandro, who is unopposed in the primary.
“My whole focus is going to be technology,” Collins said.
Collins, who owns a Green Valley boutique, 60s Chick, thinks most young teachers are prepared to teach kids about technology, but many of the older ones are not. She would aim to link these folks through peer training, she said.
“We need money for professional development. We could get the private sector involved in that, too,” she said.
Under state Superintendent of Public Education Tom Horne, Collins supervised the launch of a pilot program that put laptops in each student’s hands at four high schools, including Vail’s Empire High School and Vail Charter High School. She would push to expand that program, she said.
Her business background – she owned two successful child care centers back East and an elder care center here – also prepare her for office, she said. She said she understands the burdens on small business because she has owned several.
She would fight for lower business property taxes and push for tax credits for companies that do high-tech research and development, she said.
She would push to limit government regulation.
Collins also puts immigration high on her list. She realizes that it is primarily a federal issue, but she would support state laws aimed at controlling illegal immigration, including sanctions on employers who hire illegal immigrants, she said.
She would also fight to get increased security in border schools, which deal with more drug traffic than other schools, she said.
Collins said she offers one thing her opponents do not – government experience.
“That’s the one thing I have that they really don’t have – my 10 years in government,” she said.
She calls herself upbeat and said she has tried to spread goodwill in her work with people of all political stripes. She thinks she has done that.
“I don’t have any enemies out there . . . that I know of,” she said with a chuckle.
Career info: Former teacher, business owner. Served two Republican Arizona governors, Fife Symington and Jane Hull. Currently the associate superintendent, Arizona Department of Education, serving the southern Arizona office
Community service: Board member, Arizona’s Children’s Association, 1999-present
Previous elected office: None
Top change she would make in office: Education – making sure all students are poised to enter the global marketplace. That means making sure all students have access to digital technology in the classroom.
Profiles of District 30 candidates David Gowan and Doug Sposito will be published in Saturday’s Tucson Citizen.