Flinn-Brown Fellow Edgar Soto: A veteran, coach, and educator with lifetime ties to Pima County 

April 30, 2024

By Jessica Vaile

Fellows Spotlight

Edgar Soto

(Tucson, 2022)

Vice President, Pima Community College
Pima County Board of Supervisors Candidate, District 3

“The experience I got from Flinn-Brown was a game changer for me, because I felt like I could talk about things at a new level. I had information and I knew where to get information. It really forced me to dig deeper into understanding major problems and challenges and where they’re rooted; it taught me how to be a better problem solver.” — Edgar Soto

Edgar Soto is a native Arizonan, born and raised in Tucson. His family has been in Pima County for generations, before it was even part of the United States. He likes to say, “We didn’t cross any borders, the borders crossed us.” 

Soto’s deep roots in his community, including serving the past 27 years at Pima Community College, have led him to run for the Pima County Board of Supervisors in District 3 this November. 

Soto served in the Marine Corps where he learned values that he still carries with him today. After serving time in the military, he went on to be an educator and a baseball coach, keeping his community ties close. 

When Soto was young, he was severely “pigeon-toed” which proved to be a thorn in his side as he tried to succeed in sports. As he got older, his father encouraged him to keep working. He would help young Soto do push-ups and workouts around the house. The experience led Soto to have a tenacity not everyone can find in themselves and a deep appreciation for those who supported him. 

Soto went on to coach with USA baseball for four years and was the head coach for the Junior National team in 2002.

“The people we come in contact with are so important. If I had little league coaches that made me hate the game of baseball, I probably wouldn’t have kept playing,” Soto says. “One of the things I’ve always tried to share with people is find what you love to do, and then keep doing it. You don’t have to be the best at it, but keep doing it.”

Soto has been with Pima Community College for 27 years, the last seven as vice president. Throughout his time with PCC, his favorite task has been overseeing the different grants that help underserved students succeed. 

“I think they’re the lifeline for first generational, low socioeconomic, and all students that might not have access to what they need to succeed,” Soto says. “We have achievement gaps; we have socioeconomic gaps and people want to just tell you to pull up your bootstraps and get it done. These gaps exist for a reason. We’ve had laws that have created some of these gaps and now we’re trying to create situations where we fill gaps.”

Soto first had the idea to run for office after he delivered the eulogy for his good friend, Rudy Gallego. Gallego was a Vietnam veteran and an esteemed community leader in Tucson. He realized that “compassion and serving the vulnerable” were pillars he had to uphold. 

Being a veteran, coach and educator has taught Soto a lot about how to be a strong leader and how to advocate for those in need. Soto believes good leadership comes from listening and trust. 

“People think you’ve got to know everything when you’re in a leadership position, but really, you’ve got to listen and give people what they need to be successful,” Soto says. “Sometimes the best thing you can do as a leader is get out of the way. People want to be seen, heard and valued. And it’s our job, as leaders, to let that voice be heard and be seen.”

Soto wants to focus on economic development and bringing good jobs to Arizona if he is elected. Working as an educator, he’s seen firsthand how talented and skilled students leave Arizona because they can’t find employment. 

Soto’s experience with Flinn-Brown helped him find his passion for addressing those issues. 

“We had some robust conversations with Flinn-Brown. People had some challenges with each other, and I loved it, because I feel like when we left there, we were different people,” Soto says. 

Book Recommendation:

“These books talk about big forecasts for the world, all these big problems. It makes you think about how we can potentially solve these problems as a society, by working together and being innovative using technology.” — Edgar Soto

The End of the World is Just the Beginning
by Peter Zeihan
Thank You for Being Late
by Thomas L. Friedman

View all Flinn-Brown Fellow profiles here.