Jenny Richardson elected MPS board president The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

Jenny Richardson elected MPS board president

January 19th, 2021 Mesa Tribune Staff
Jenny Richardson elected MPS board president
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TRIBUNE NEWS STAFF

Mesa Public Schools Governing Board has a new president after members had to choose between two of their own.

In a 3-1 vote with one abstention, Jenny Richardson was elected to the post after she voted in her favor and was joined by newcomers Joe O’Reilly and Lara Salmon Ellingson. Marcie Hutchinson had nominated Kiana Maria Sears and cast the sole vote in her favor while Sears abstained.

The contest was unusual because most school boards – which are all electing presidents this month for a one-year term – rarely see two members up for election in public. Boards often rotate the post annually or a member will lobby for his or her colleagues’ support in one-on-one private sessions before any public meeting is held.

After they were nominated, both Sears and Richardson made brief appeals for their colleagues’ support.

“I love our neighborhood schools,” Richardson said after Ellingson nominated her. “I feel like big things are on the horizon for Mesa Public Schools. I feel like it’s a time of a lot of change and a lot of good direction.

“We have some good things in place and I’d like the opportunity to help guide as we see it through, as we work on implementing the Portrait of The Graduate, as we work together to create the master plan that will guide our actions with our bonds and our financial dollars going forward. I feel like our equity promise of knowing every student by name and serving them by strength and need is what guides our work and I am anxious for the opportunity to help serve in any way I can.”

Richardson has been on the board since 2015 and is a product of Mesa schools as well as the mother of six children who all graduated from or are attending Mesa schools. She has a degree in education and was an elementary teacher for a while before deciding to become a stay-at-home mom.

Sears, who last year won her second four-year term, started serving on the board in 2017. A Mesa resident for 23 years, she is the mother of two Red Mountain grads who are now at Arizona State University. She has a master’s degree in public administration and has a lengthy history of community involvement.

In her pitch for president, Sears stressed what she has already learned about the district and education generally so far as a board member.

“I’m pretty transparent and always passionate about the things of the district that concerns our children, our classified stuff as well as our certified staff,” she said. “Holistically, I’m really passionate about doing right about all that’s involved in the system because we know it takes caring adults to actually help all children have the best future. Innovation and going forward with new ideas are really important.”

After the vote, Sears drew laughter when she said she wanted to make a concession speech, and told Richardson “I know that you’re dedicated and you dedicate your time and your great leadership and I’ve had the joy to serve with you and I’m just excited.”

Richardson succeeds Elaine Miner, who decided not to seek a fourth term on the board.

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