The lone finalist for superintendent is a good fit for the Tucson Unified School District, if a survey of people attending a Wednesday forum is any gauge.

But that response was limited. The survey was handed out to about 100 people at the forum, but only 54 were returned.

Of those, 30 were in support of hiring H.T. Sanchez, currently the interim superintendent of an Odessa, Texas, school district. Five said Sanchez was not a good fit for the district and nearly two dozen others were undecided.

The survey asked the public to list strengths and weaknesses for Sanchez, the sole finalist for the job - a situation community members voiced disappointment in, saying they would have liked to have seen two or three finalists.

The surveys were completed after the two-hour forum in which Sanchez discussed topics across a broad spectrum: guns in school, evolution, common core standards, academic achievement and partnering with the community.

A recurring weakness, according to survey respondents, was Sanchez's frequent references to religion.

"Please inform him about the separation of church and state," one respondent wrote. Another wrote, "The God stuff is totally inappropriate and should be enough grounds for a resounding 'no.' "

Sanchez acknowledged he is a religious man but promised that he would not infuse religion into public education.

Other concerns were about Sanchez's history of hopping from job to job - most of the positions he's held have lasted less than two years before he's moved on.

"He's not going to be here in five years," one person wrote. "Someone will come along and 'invite' him to some other position. Or God will 'need' him somewhere else."

The feedback was far from all bad, however.

Sanchez received great praise for his willingness to listen, an emphasis on collaboration, the fact that he is bilingual, goal oriented and open to innovation.

A number of respondents called Sanchez "personable," "humble" and "straightforward."

Some community members resoundingly said "This is the one!" while others thanked the Governing Board for bringing forward a strong candidate.

"I have high hopes for Dr. Sanchez as TUSD's leader," one person wrote. "I hope he'll stay long enough to make a difference."

At 38, Sanchez's youth was viewed both as a strength and a weakness, as was his response to whether Mexican American Studies should be included in the curriculum - he said yes, but only if everyone else's story is also told.

The fact that Sanchez has never been a superintendent, aside from his current stint as an interim over the last three months, also came up as a weakness.

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what they said

Two examples of responses to the survey on H.T. Sanchez:

"The God stuff is totally inappropriate and should be enough grounds for a resounding 'no.' "

"I have high hopes for Dr. Sanchez as TUSD's leader. I hope he'll stay long enough to make a difference."

Contact reporter Alexis Huicochea at or 573-4175. On Twitter @AlexisHuicochea