Republican Arizona teacher running for state Senate seat

Jun 11, 2018, 1:48 PM | Updated: 3:22 pm

(Kristina Kelly)...

(Kristina Kelly)

(Kristina Kelly)

PHOENIX — When schools closed down for the statewide teacher walkout last month, second-grade teacher Kristina Kelly took her four children to the Arizona Capitol on day one of the six-day work stoppage.

“I thought it was important that they witness democracy in action, as well as history,” she said.

Kelly is one of a few active Arizona teachers running for legislative seats. She’s running as a Republican for state Senate in Legislative District 23, which covers Scottsdale and Fountain Hills.

State Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita is among Kelly’s three primary opponents.

More than 40 former teachers, mostly Democrats, also are running for legislative seats in Arizona.

For most of the educators running, the Red for Ed movement inspired them to try unseating lawmakers they believe are failing to provide adequate funding for public schools.

Kelly said she had already decided to run prior to the walkout. However, she said it inspired her as a teacher and that “we can learn from the Red for Ed movement.”

“None of the teachers wanted to walk out, but they felt they had no other option,” she said. “We need to be willing to solve problems before they get out of control and keep an open dialogue,” she said.

The walkout ended when the Legislature approved Gov. Doug Ducey’s plan to give teachers a 20 percent pay raise by 2020, as well as $371 million in flexible spending to public schools over the next five years.

Kelly said the governor’s plan is a “great first step” in providing much-needed funding for public schools.

“But I feel that we can do more,” she said. “I feel that we need to find sustainable funding for education.”

A teacher on and off for several years, Kelly said she has seen the effects of education funding cuts. She said at Scottsdale’s Laguna Elementary School, where she teaches, funding cuts have led to a shortage of counselors, who she said are key to helping students deal with mental health issues.

She said teachers have also had to take on a bigger role in the lives of students.

“You’re not just a teacher, you’re also a counselor and a caregiver,” she said.

In addition to teaching, Kelly operated a small business for seven years and has experience in education policy. She moved to Arizona from California 14 years ago.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Follow @suelenrivera...

SuElen Rivera

City of Goodyear unveils state-of-the-art Fire Station 188

The city of Goodyear held a grand opening ceremony on Thursday for the addition of its latest fire station.

1 hour ago

(Facebook Photo/Tucson Police Department)...

Associated Press

Man already serving life sentence convicted of killing Tucson girl who vanished from parents’ home

A man already serving a life sentence was convicted Thursday of first-degree murder in the killing of another Tucson girl years earlier.

4 hours ago

A suspect who accidentally shot and killed a fellow IRS agent at a federal gun range in Phoenix was...

Danny Shapiro

Suspect indicted on manslaughter charge in death of fellow IRS agent in Phoenix

A suspect who accidentally shot and killed a fellow IRS agent at a federal gun range in Phoenix was indicted on a manslaughter charge, authorities announced Friday.

5 hours ago

Arizona will not approve new housing construction on the fast-growing edges of metro Phoenix that r...

Associated Press

Arizona Senate passes plan to manage rural groundwater, but final success is uncertain

A plan to manage rural groundwater passed the Arizona Senate amid concerns about the availability of sufficient water for future generations.

6 hours ago


KTAR Video

Video: A closer look at the alleged cover-up of Preston Lord’s fatal beating

Arizona Republic investigative reporters Robert Anglen and Elena Santa Cruz join guest host Kristin Bentz to further explain the latest developments in the Preston Lord investigation. Video: Jeremy Schnell and Felisa Cárdenas/KTAR News

7 hours ago

A sign in front of a building identifies Valleywise Behavioral Health Center – Maryvale in Phoeni...

Kevin Stone

Valleywise Health replenishing mental health care capacity after staffing setback

Valleywise Health is working to replenish its mental health care capacity after cutting back because of staffing shortages in 2022.

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

Republican Arizona teacher running for state Senate seat