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Jun 13, 2013 2:11 AM by Rebecca Taylor

Meet and greet with H.T. Sanchez, candidate for TUSD Superintendent

TUCSON - The community got their first look at the lone candidate to replace TUSD Superintendent John Pedicone.

38-year-old Heliodoro Torres (H.T.) Sanchez is currently interim Superintendent of a school district in Odessa, Texas.

He started as a teacher in 1998, working up to administrator and earned a doctorate in educational leadership on the way.

The district held a public meet and greet for Sanchez, inviting Tucsonans to attend.

Considering it's summer break, it was pretty good turnout.

Those with questions were asked to fill out a prepared question card for a moderator to ask the candidate.

Dr. Sanchez addressed topics ranging from special education, desegregation, to how he plans to compete with charter schools.

In a one-on-one interview with Rebecca Taylor, he said communication is the biggest strength he'd bring to TUSD.

"I think there has to be good communication about the work that's going on, but there also has to be a deep desire to involve the community in the work," Sanchez said.

At least two board members expressed concern that the search was narrowed too quickly. But by a vote of three to two, Sanchez was named the lone finalist.

Board Member Mark Stegeman said, "I think the process went a little too fast, I think the community expected us to get more input."

While Sanchez has worked in public education for 15 years, Stegeman says Sanchez changed jobs frequently and has only about three months of Superintendent experience.

Some community members feel they too should have had more input.

Cesar Aguirre has two kids in TUSD schools.

"We have not had a voice, and we still do not have a voice, we've been censored even on our questions," he says.

Other audience members seemed to enjoy Dr. Sanchez is bilingual, at times they clapped during his answers.

Sanchez said he could imagine his family living here, he flew them out to see what Tucson has to offer.

"I'll have to say this, the people in Odessa are some of the friendliest I've met and the people in Tucson are equally as friendly, so it felt like home," Sanchez said.

Used to Mexican food already, living in Texas he branched out and enjoy a T-bone steak for lunch.

"I stumbled upon a place called the Silver Saddle, it was amazing," said Sanchez with a smile, "I know I'm probably not supposed to put a plug in, for them, but it was an amazing place to eat. It was just by luck."

Time will tell if Sanchez is offered the job, will accept it, or if the Governing Board will keep looking.

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