November 4, 2022

Candidates for Governor and Superintendent Interviewed by Students

On Tuesday, Arizonans will vote on the leaders of the state in the races for Governor and Superintendent of Public Instruction. 

Among the most important stakeholders in education are the students who are learning in Arizona classrooms every day. So, we decided, who better to ask candidates about education issues than students themselves?

Four Education Forward Arizona Scholars – Odalis Lopez a student at Arizona State University; Jose Luviano, a student at Grand Canyon University; Shannon Taylor, a student at University of Arizona and Tohono O’odham Community College; and Ezequias Fuentes, a student at Arizona State University – interviewed candidates as a part of this project. 

We spoke with the students after their conversations with the candidates and here are their reactions, in their own words. Watch the videos on

Thoughts on Key Education Issues

Students reflected on the issues that stood out to them the most.

“A candidate mentioned their education plan for Native Americans. I didn’t know there was already an education plan in place. It was good to hear that. I wish there was more being done for Native Americans students.” – Shannon Taylor

“One candidate mentioned encouraging more trade schools. And while I think maybe not everyone will decide to go to college, I want us to also keep high expectations for our future generations.” -Jose Luviano

“Discipline in education came up as a way to create success in education and not only for the students, but for the entire teachers, the administrators, and the state itself.  I thought that was an interesting point.” -Ezequias Fuentes

Candidates Are People Too

Getting to see candidates in their homes and logging on to zoom lines allowed students to see a more human side of them.

“I never thought I’d be up close with someone who is so influential and someone who is doing so much or serving at a state level. I hadn’t imagined I could ever meet them in person, it’s something that is always cool for me. So that definitely is eye-opening to me. – Odalis Lopez

“I came to the realization that the candidates are just like me. They’re human, and they have their own beliefs, their own will and structure of their lives and how they want things completed.” – Shannon Taylor

“It was very eye-opening to see candidates as everyday people. Talking to you on zoom. It’s pretty great to be an average citizen and you are able to actually talk to them.” -Ezequias Fuentes

“We weren’t trying to nudge one way or the other. We were just there to listen, to understand. It’s quite a difference to listen to and hear people that way. -Jose Luviano

Importance of Voting

Getting to ask candidates questions confirmed for them just how important their vote is.

“As a Native American woman, voting is really important and sadly most times people feel like their vote doesn’t count, but it really does! I really hope that everyone turns out to vote. This is particularly true for Native Americans, who weren’t originally allowed to vote.”  – Shannon Taylor

“The results of elections impact you; they impact your life. You might not see it in your face, but you’ll feel it, you’ll sense it. It’s important we all vote.” -Jose Luviano

Advice for Voters

Having the chance to speak with candidates themselves, provided a fresh perspective on the process of deciding who to cast their ballots.

“You need to do your homework before you go to the polls and see what you like or dislike with each proposition or candidate that you would like to vote in.” -Shannon Taylor

“You have to dig into what you value and see what’s important to you. You have to ask yourself how you want your children to experience education, and potentially what you visualize for yourself.” -Odalis Lopez

“Take a step back. Do some research. Have an open mind. Actually, read about each candidate. What they’re saying. What they believe in. What they’re valuing. And really just do some introspection on what you believe in. Ask what is not only for yourself, but for the general good of everyone.”  -Ezequias Fuentes

These students took the time out of their busy schedules to ask the important questions that Arizona voters want to know about education issues. The candidates also made time to do the interviews and/or to respond in writing. This is what democracy is all about. It’s a process. 

In a moment when the volume level is turned all the way up by every campaign, Ed Voters Arizona is an example of what our politics could be. These four students and the four candidates who engaged with us (either in person or in writing), showed what productive political discourse about an important issue like education could look like. It’s fine to disagree and it’s good to strive for compromise as long as it’s in search of a solution. Too often today the disagreement has become the point, at the expense of solving the real problems facing Arizona students. shows that we can take steps to change that trend.