Candidate’s Rivals for College Post had More Experience

PHOENIX

Laura Pastor, the daughter of U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor, D-Phoenix, has started a political career of her own in pursuit of a hotly contested seat on the Phoenix City Council.

As part of her campaign, Pastor is touting her leadership in a Maricopa Community College outreach program.

But The Arizona Republic reported Sunday that resumes and applications of the top three candidates for the job show that Pastor had the least experience in working with colleges or with outreach and scholarship programs.

The college district denies Pastor got the position because her father has funneled millions of taxpayer dollars into the outreach program, including $1 million in federal grants at the time his daughter was being interviewed in 2005.

Dr. Ken Atwater, South Mountain College’s president, has said Pastor was “by far” the best candidate for the job.

Laura Pastor says that she has never used her father’s connections to get ahead. “I wouldn’t have applied for the job if I wasn’t qualified,” she said. “My qualifications speak for themselves.”

Pastor has taken an unpaid leave of absence while she runs for office. The election will be on Nov. 6.

The scholarship program at South Mountain College gives at-risk high school students a chance to earn a college degree by taking college classes prior to graduating.

Unlike the other two finalists, Pastor’s resume shows no experience with at-risk high school students or any college-related work history.

Pastor has a master’s degree in public administration and worked as a middle-school teacher in low-income districts. In the two years before taking the college job, she worked in two midlevel state jobs with the Department of Economic Security and the Department of Insurance.

In her resume, Pastor highlighted a three-year stint managing a project with Chicago Public Schools to create partnerships with museums in the city.

Meanwhile, finalist Jennifer Steele spent three years directing a scholarship program at Maricopa Community Colleges.

Steele, who has a master’s degree in education leadership, focused on experience working with at-risk populations, including seven years as executive director of Safe Haven Children’s Services.

“I have been involved in designing programs that meet the needs of at-risk populations for the last 15 years,” she wrote.

The other finalist, Richard Daniel, has a doctorate in education leadership and policy studies and worked for three years as a researcher for a national student lender.

Before that, he was director of alumni relations at the University of Nevada at Reno and director of student affairs at Arizona State University.

Daniel noted that he once developed a program that linked ASU with four of Maricopa Community Colleges’ 10 campuses and 10 area high schools. He had also supervised as many as 35 employees and managed a $3 million budget.

Records show that two phone calls and a letter were lodged with the college over Pastor’s selection, calling it favoritism. The college Equal Employment Opportunity officer dismissed the grievances as unfounded, saying there were no violations of laws or regulations.

Rep. Pastor, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, has denied that he pulled strings to get his daughter the job. He also said that he would have continued supporting the scholarship program whether or not she was hired.

Information from: The Arizona Republic, http://www.azcentral.com

The Associated Press



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