Sheriff’s race now includes five candidates

Five people have now filed official paperwork to run for Santa Cruz County sheriff in 2020, according to the County Elections Office.

Meanwhile, incumbent Antonio Estrada says he still hasn’t decided whether to throw his hat into the ring.

The NI previously reported that former Justice of the Peace Keith Barth (Jan. 30) retired DEA official James David Hathaway (June 4) and retired U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer Jose “Joe” Agosttini (July 9) had filed their Statement of Organization to run for sheriff.

According to information provided this week by the County Elections Office, they have since been joined by former Sheriff’s Deputy Rafael Corrales, who formally organized his campaign on Sept. 26, meaning that he intends to receive and/or spend at least $1,200 on his campaign.

David Ruiz, whose background is in federal law enforcement, filed a Statement of Interest on Aug. 28, which allows him to begin collecting signatures to get on the ballot. He had not yet filed a Statement of Organization.

Agosttini is registered as an Independent, meaning his name will first appear on the ballot in the November 2020 general election. The other four are Democrats, meaning they will compete for their party’s nomination durning the Aug. 4, 2020 primary.

Two other county government candidates have also taken steps to run in 2020.

Incumbent District 3 Supervisor Bruce Bracker filed his Statement of Interest on Aug. 7 and his Statement of Organization on Aug. 29. Liz Gutfahr, the incumbent county treasurer, filed her intent to seek re-election on Sept. 30. Both are Democrats.

In addition to sheriff, treasurer and all three supervisor positions, county offices up for election in 2020 include assessor, attorney, recorder, superintendent of schools and one of two Superior Court judges.

Audit finds shortcomings at school district

A state auditor’s report found that while student performance at Little Red School was higher than peer districts’ averages in fiscal year 2017, and while the Santa Cruz Elementary School District’s operations were “reasonably efficient” that year, a lack of district oversight led to insufficient recordkeeping and an increased risk of errors and fraud.

A summary of the Arizona Auditor General’s Office performance audit report, released to the public last week, said auditors found that the district did not maintain appropriate records related to its food service program.

“Additionally, the district did not sufficiently ensure school bus passengers’ safety and welfare because it did not have a policy or systematic procedures for ensuring its school buses were properly maintained,” the summary said, adding: “Lastly, the district needs to improve some accounting controls.”

In a response dated Sept. 18, the district agreed with the auditor’s findings and laid out its plans for addressing the shortcomings.

For example, the district said it had a new contract with its food service provider for the 2019-2020 school year that would be “used to ensure that amounts are billed in accordance to contract terms.” It also said it would develop and follow a policy for preventative school bus maintenance in accordance with current Arizona Department of Public Safety guidelines. And it promised to classify all transactions in accordance with uniform standards to ensure the accurate reporting of expenditures.

The Santa Cruz Elementary School District operates one school, the K-8 Little Red School.

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