Vail Unified Governing Board Candidates 2022

Each election year, The Vail Voice supports Governing Board candidates speaking in their own voice directly to voters in the district. Total word count for each response (excluding the question itself) is to be no more than 300 words. I am grateful for each candidate’s participation!

The answers designated “A1”, “A2” and “A3” to the following questions:

Question 1)
What particular work or volunteer experience has prepared you to serve as a Board member?

Question 2)
What is your role and responsibility as a Board member?

Question 3)
Are your children currently enrolled in any Vail school? Why or why not?

Jennifer Anderson

A1) “I have served in my community for the last sixteen years. Serving on site council helped me recognize needs and to advocate respectfully and effectively. As a PTA President I worked to build unity and trust between parents and teachers. On a Booster Board I worked to meet the needs of the organization and still make sure individual needs were met. I have learned leadership skills and built relationships while serving on various committees throughout the district and community, including hiring and school planning committees. I was part of the original board of directors for Greater Vail Community ReSources and worked to help establish the purpose of neighbors helping neighbors.”

A2) “I recognize that I would be one member out of five and would need to work collaboratively and respectfully with other members in order to meet the needs of the students in our district. There are many aspects of being a board member that are important, one of which is approving the budget each year. I would work together with district staff to ensure the budget reflects our priorities. I look forward to honoring the work that happens in the district and building the culture that helps students succeed.”

A3) “We moved to Vail in 2006 because we wanted our children to attend the Vail School District. All 5 of my children have attended Vail schools. I could share so many stories of experiences my children have had that have helped them to be who they are today. From teachers that loved them, coaches that encouraged them, and support staff that helped them every day. Three of my children have graduated through Vail and two are currently attending. We love our Vail schools and are here because of the community we are a part of.”

Ed Buster

A1) “I have a diversified personal and professional background. I’ve been a successful lifeguard, soldier, avionics test & development engineer, IT networker, university instructor, financial investigator, municipal project manager, etc. I’ve served in positions including chairman on a litany of local to federal boards that focused on environmental management and restoration, youth outreach, fire district governance, regional bonds, elder services, municipal contracts, provincial libraries, environmental sustainment, community action and improvement, historical preservation, and more. Each provided opportunities to understand the complexities of school district governance, demonstrate technical know-how, and generate sustainable long-term performance for each stakeholder of VUSD.”

A2) “On each of the boards where I’ve served, boardroom capital was built on five different types of intelligence: financial, strategic, relational, role, and cultural. I’ve owned the budget, P&Ls, scrutinized assets and investments, and leveraged to drive free cash flows and challenge earnings. I’ve reviewed organizational business models, understood how it relates to strategy and operations, and how changes potentially put at risk or destroy goodwill and perceived economic value. I’ve made it my business to value others, develop trust, and improve the backgrounds and experiences of others through engaging in cross-functional, cross-industry, and cross-culture groups. If elected, I will bring those same focuses to the VUSD Governing Board.”

A3) “My wife and I were fortunate to raise our five boys in this community. Each of our sons graduated high school, some notably achieved to highest expectations and graduated secondary education and now are making huge contributions in the professional world. We have the greatest appreciation for our community and the Vail School District for providing the finest education and experiences to our young men during their formative years. I desire to lead VUSD to enable and perpetuate similar incredible outcomes for the benefit of each parent, student, and educator.”

Angelica Hemme

A1-A3) No Answers Provided.

Geraldine Kleber

A1) “I have been active in all of the schools my children have attended. I have been a school volunteer, PTO President, PTSA vice president, and President of VOICES. I managed a student team that went to Global Finals twice. I was also part of Area Council for five years. I was asked by the Vail School District to be a parent voice for the district at the Capitol. I have attended over 50 board meetings and study sessions, two years of budgeting meetings, so I would be able to just jump into the role of board member on day one.”

A2) “As a governing board member, I will play an important role in the success of the Vail School District. I will be an independent voice with a fresh perspective as I have lived in other districts. I will do independent research on everything that is presented to me. I will work along with the other four board members to come to a solution that will be the best for the district. One thing I would like to focus on once on the board, will be to make the district the best it can ever be for our children. OUR CHILDREN. THEIR FUTURE.”

A3) “I have two children currently enrolled in the district, one in OVMS and the other at Cienega. We love the community, and we chose to move to Vail a bit over two years ago because we heard it had an incredible SpEd department, and also many choices in advanced placement courses in high school. Both my children have benefited from this. I believe that the district would benefit most from board members that are parents of current district students, that are actually involved in the day to day of school.”

Jayme Morris

A1) “My experience volunteering in the Vail schools including holding a position on the PTO board for RVMS and serving 4 years on site council have taught me how to actively listen and participate in discussions in an open, honest manner, while encouraging and respecting the expression of opinions by colleagues.
I have also served on my community HOA board which has taught me to have a temperament to respond accordingly and appropriately through challenging events with public actions, while maintaining integrity.”

A2) “My responsibility first is to our children, to assure they are in a safe learning environment and help them reach their full potential as the grow and develop into young adults. I also believe the role and responsibility of a board member is to represent the entire community, including those without a direct relationship to the schools, and not special interest or partisan political groups. It is important the board members communicate and build a relationship with the community, understanding the decisions the board votes on have a tremendous impact on the community. I am ready to have tough conversations, and make decisive actions that affect or students and schools in a positive way. It is my responsibility to ensure VUSD is responsive to the values, beliefs and priorities of our community.”

A3) “My children have been in Vail schools since kindergarten and are now attending Mica Mountain High School. Vail Schools have focused on each of my child’s differences, offering them the tools they require to succeed as young adults. The innovative training offered with the JTED program has given them a head start to discover which career path they are most passionate about.”

Leroy Smith

A1) “I am Leroy Smith; candidate for VUSD Governing Board. I believe, my experience prepared me to serve the Vail community as your next Governing Board Member. I am a former Marine, Associate Warden with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Security Officer at Cienega High School, and Arizona Department of Corrections. I volunteer in the community mentoring Boy Scouts, assisting Knights of Columbus community food drives, and Marine Corp Toys for Tots.

In my professional capacities, I created, implemented, and balanced large budgets, managed staff, oversaw disciplinary actions, and created policy driven rules. I have OSHA and EPA certifications enabling me to provide guidance on future contagions and outbreaks.”

A2) “Utilizing my experience in safety protocol as an expert crisis management administrator, I intend to build a team formulating rapid response plans to assess future potential security risks and provide the community confidence that our Governing Board will be prepared to comprehensively tackle school safety issues.

I will develop results driven policies, uphold district by-laws, and ensure procedures developed and approved by vote comply with federal, state, and local laws. Board meetings and town hall forums provide necessary transparency for budgetary issues, lesson plans, teacher curriculum, reading materials, and to address the Vail community concerns.

To ensure the implementation of the boards vision for the VUSD community, I look forward to assisting with the selection of superintendent/assistant superintendent. As expected of a board member who believes in accountability, I will monitor school performance and measure against the district performance requirements, and report when a school or staff fails to adhere to district policies.”

A3) “Two of my children graduated from Vail schools, and my granddaughter just graduated from Cienega High School. Vail- where education is a community effort, our future not only relies heavily on parents’ involvement but in partnership with our community.”

Anastasia Tsatsakis

A1) “My name is Anastasia Tsatsakis, and I am a candidate for the Vail Governing Board. I am a local REALTOR and a District Partner for an insurance agency. Both careers have been 19 years of challenge and I love what I do! I’ve been working since the age of 16. In my house, my parents raised us with the words, “You earn everything you get! No one will hand it to you!” That is what I’ve lived by and will continue to do as a Governing Board member. My university degree is in Communications with a minor in Psychology, with an emphasis on media and public relations. Attention to detail, drive, honesty, integrity, reading contracts, knowing my business…. all of that requires constant training, continuing education, keeping up to date on laws, rules and understanding them. Research is a necessity. These are all important pieces to pass rules, budgets and curriculum for the students and staff.”

A2) “I have volunteered for many organizations and done much service work in my life during my upbringing. I ran Greek festivals in my hometown of Omaha for over 10 years and here in Tucson for 4 years. During those times I coordinated media, entertainment, volunteer staff and taught our dancers. My role as a Governing Board member is very much like heading a business and needs to be handled as such, because a school district is a business entity. The responsibilities are setting the course for our future success, establish proper structure for students and staff to follow, provide support to help students meet their goals to establish excellence and to ensure accountability on every level! I look forward to earning your vote on November 8, 2022, and I will be vigilant and diligent during my tenure in working with our community, students and staff!”

A3) No response.

Justin Walker

A1) “I have spent the last 9 years, working as an Associate Dean at the University of Arizona. As the administrative lead for a major College, I have a deep understanding of public education financing, state appropriations and so forth. I have served on numerous University level policy committees and understand how to build consensus in large organizations. I was part of a local team of vail parents that mobilized to help advocate for Vail’s District Sponsored Charters Schools when they were facing severe state budget cuts. I have also served time on non-profit boards.”

A2) “Legally, the Board has three primary governance functions in the district. 1) To approve the district level budget, 2) hire a new superintended when needed and 3) set policy for the district in accordance with state law. On a personal level, I see the Board is a small delegation of peers, elected by their neighbors to ensure the needs of parents are represented and heard. To join the Board as an elected official is to become part of a team; working with parents, the superintendent and other elected members as stewards of the district.”

A3) “Yes, my children are currently enrolled in the district. Over a decade ago, as my wife and I started a family, we made the move into Vail because of the school district and never looked back. As a graduate of Amphitheater High School and long time Tucsonan, I was always acutely aware of VUSD’s independent culture; putting the needs of its students above any partisan political agenda. Looking back, I can recall some of the heavily partisan and politically charged Board agendas in other districts and could see that Vail’s Board was different. Vail’s culture was one of focused and pragmatic leadership. VUSD is the vail community’s brand and identity.”

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