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Former Arizona education leader Carolyn Warner dies at 88

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PHOENIX — Carolyn Warner, a former education leader in Arizona and one-time gubernatorial candidate, died on Tuesday. She was 88.

Warner died at her home. No information is immediately available on cause of death, according to Bethany Holder, Warner’s executive assistant at her education consulting business.

Warner, a Democrat, was memorialized by state leaders on Wednesday.

Gov. Doug Ducey said in a tweet that Warner will be “remembered as a dedicated advocate for education in our state, and we are thankful for her life of public service to our state.”

Diane Douglas, the current superintendent of public instruction, said in a statement that there Warner will be “sorely missed.”

Phoenix Mayor Thelda Williams called Warner a “trailblazer in her own right” in a statement.

“Carolyn Warner leaves a legacy of tireless dedication and advocacy for public education that will always be remembered,” Williams said.

“I’m saddened by Carolyn’s passing, and my thoughts and prayers are with her family in this difficult time.”

“As an activist, candidate, elected leader and mentor, Carolyn had a contagious love of politics, and conveyed her beliefs and Democratic values through her exceptional speeches,” Arizona Democratic Party Chair Felecia Rotellini said in a statement.

“Carolyn’s endless devotion to the principles of our Party and to the people of our state can never be replaced, but her inspiration and positive influence on all of us will remain forever.”

Warner, who was born in Oklahoma, became politically active as a teenager. At 13, she spoke at events for candidates, including former Oklahoma Gov. Roy Turner and Sens. Elmer Thomas and Robert Kerr.

She continued her political ambitions after she moved to Arizona, where she served as the state’s 15th superintendent of public instruction from 1975 to 1987.

She also ran for U.S. Senate in 1976 but lost the primary, and was a nominee for governor in 1986 but was defeated by then-state Sen. Evan Mecham.

Warner later was elected head of the state Democratic National Committee in 2004 and 2008. Once Warner left office, she ran a consulting firm called Corporate Education Consulting.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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