Three Maricopa Governing Board district seats, one at-large seat to be decided in general election


Michael Russell

Shelli Boggs is opposing Linda Thor for the at-large seat

Michael Russell, Reporter

The general election is just weeks away now.  With most of the focus on the Presidential and key US Senate races, some important races have taken a backseat in the news.

One such set of races are for the positions on the seven member Maricopa County Community College District governing board.

The MCCCD system is one of the largest community college systems in the U.S.  It serves over 200,000 students, employs more than 10,000 faculty and has an annual budget of over $1 billion dollars.

The people who are elected to the governing board and have control over the massive MCCCD budget is of vital importance to taxpayers and the community college system. The governing board also appoints the Chancellor, who takes charge of most areas outside of the budget.

The Chancellor position has remained unfilled on a permanent basis for close to a year now amid recent controversy.

MCCCD governing board member Kathleen Winn (at-large seat) was accused of interfering with the boards’ selection process of a new Chancellor by taking solo actions without the other board members knowledge.

The other members of the board voted 4-1 on September 10, 2020 with an abstention to ask Winn to resign. Winn adamantly refused, stating she did not act improperly.

Steven Gonzales has been serving as interim Chancellor since January 2020 when Maria Harper-Marinick left the position under fire from most quarters but with strong support from others.

The selection process has become drawn-out with no selection in sight.  It was originally planned to be completed in under six months.

The MCCCD governing board is divided into five districts each with one board member. Two at-large members represent the entire county and complete the seven-member board.

In 2020, one at-large seat and district seats 1, 2 and 5 are up for election.

In 2022, districts 3 and 4 are up along with the second at-large seat. All seats are elected to four-year terms.

The 2020 at-large race is between incumbent Linda Thor and challenger Shelli Boggs. Thor previously served as President of Rio Salado Community College for 20 years before being elected to the governing board in 2016. Thor is endorsed by former Phoenix democratic mayors Phil Gordon and Greg Stanton among others.

Boggs has run businesses while serving on the EVIT school board. Boggs is endorsed by local Republican US House members Debbie Lesko and Andy Biggs as well as Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio.

District 1 Features incumbent and former board president Laurin Hendrix versus challenger Jacqueline Smith.

District 2 is notable, in that incumbent Dana G. Saar is not running for re-election, instead he is running for a spot on the Fountain Hills Unified School District board.  There is only one challenger, Susan Bitter Smith, who is apparently running unopposed.

Finally, District 5 has incumbent Dr. Tom Nerini, who is also running unopposed.