Meet Our Candidates: Daniel Hernandez Jr. for Sunnyside Unified School Board

The Arizona general election will be held on November 4, 2014, and early voting is already underway! Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” Make your voice heard in 2014!

Daniel HernandezExtending from south Tucson to Sahuarita and from I-19 to Wilmot Road, Sunnyside Unified School District includes 14 elementary schools, five middle schools, and three high schools. Its student body, which totals 17,400, comprises an overwhelming majority of Hispanic students. In this year’s election cycle, three candidates are vying for two open spots on Sunnyside Unified’s school board. One of these candidates is Daniel Hernandez Jr., up for reelection for the first time since taking office in 2011.

Currently the acting president of the governing board, Hernandez was once a student in Sunnyside Unified School District. Although he is not even 25 years old, Hernandez already boasts incredible political experience. He has worked for numerous congressional campaigns, and he passed his first bill at 19 years old. After the shooting at U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ “Congress on Your Corner” event, where he was working as an intern, Hernandez felt compelled to give back to the public by running for office. Since 2011, he has been a passionate advocate for students as a member of Sunnyside’s board. He hopes to maintain his position so that he may continue to improve public education in Arizona.

On October 23, Mr. Hernandez took time out of his busy schedule to meet me for coffee and discuss the issues surrounding the upcoming election.


“I’m hoping to work with next year’s board members to make sure that comprehensive sex ed becomes solidified in policy.”


Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a Tucson native. I grew up on the south side in Sunnyside Unified School District, which is the district where I am now the president. I was born in the 1990s so I’m a little on the young side, but I’ve already had a lot of interesting experiences working in public policy and politics.

My first foray into politics was back in 2007 working on the Hillary for President campaign. I then worked on Gabby Gifford’s campaign for Congress, which led me to spend a lot of time thinking about the influence of policy. After her campaign ended in 2008, I became part of the Arizona Students’ Association, which works to make sure that students have all the resources they need to be successful. We have three public universities in Arizona (ASU, NAU, and U of A), and I was part of a team that represented all 150,000 students in the university system. I lobbied at the Legislature and got my first bill passed when I was 19. Continue reading

Superintendent of Public Instruction Candidate David Garcia on His Opponent

The Arizona general election will be held on November 4, 2014. Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” In order to vote in the general election, you must register to vote by October 6 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2014!

“I don’t understand why you’re interviewing David Garcia,” a friend of mine told me earlier this summer when she learned that I was doing so. “I mean — wait. I understand why you’re interviewing him and not someone else — but I don’t understand why you’re interviewing someone for superintendent of public instruction for Planned Parenthood.”

Though I didn’t have the words to express it in the moment, I have had a lot of time since the first interview to ponder the idea.


“We must end the dismantling of our public schools and instead reinvest and prioritize public education …”


Essentially, the conclusion I’ve come to is this: Planned Parenthood supports high quality education for everyone. When I go to a Planned Parenthood health center, knowledgeable professionals treat me with respect as a person, provide me with accurate and comprehensive information, and work with me to evaluate and apply that information to help me make the choices that are best for me.

Applied to students, teachers, and schools, that is basically David Garcia’s campaign platform in a nutshell. By getting away from our over-dependence on standardized testing — a setup where “teaching to the test” and leading students toward testing companies’ supposed “right answers” is heavily rewarded — educators can foster curiosity and critical thinking skills that give students a framework for seeking out and evaluating information in unfamiliar circumstances. While I hesitate to use “teacher clichés,” that really is a life skill that translates across multiple areas of life — from choosing a college (or other form of post-secondary pursuits) to re-evaluating a career move, from choosing a contraceptive method to evaluating whether an intimate partner relationship is showing signs of abuse. The skill is the same; it’s only the context that’s different.

And all of that is the antithesis of Diane Douglas’ positions.  Continue reading