The three candidates running for the two open seats in the newly created state House District 11 – Republicans Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, Adam Kwasman and lone Democrat Dave Joseph – disagree on what the state Legislature’s top priority should be.
Smith said he will continue to focus on illegal immigration, the state budget and education in his move from the Senate to the House.
As a first-term senator for District 23, Smith introduced SB 1406, a bill that proposed a border fence built by prisoners and funded through a website.
The bill was signed by Gov. Jan Brewer.
As a member of the House, Smith said he would focus on other aspects of illegal immigration, which he said is “so much more than fences or officers and anything you can physically do to secure the border.”
Although Arizona’s economy has improved over the last year, rising in the ranks to the fourth-highest state for job creation and one of the few states with a budget surplus, Smith said there’s still work to be done “protecting taxpayer dollars.”
“This session I want to move us from fourth to first (in job creation),” Smith said.
For education, Smith said he is working on bill to pay teachers based on performance and district-based standards.
Kwasman, who was born and raised in Southern Arizona, said his priorities are “tax reform, regulatory reform and ensuring Obamacare is blocked at the state level.”
“Obamacare” is a term used by politicians to describe the Affordable Care Act, President Barak Obama’s health-care reform bill.
Kwasman said he also would focus on job creation as part of his economic platform.
“This is the time to do whatever it takes to get Arizonans back to work,” Kwasman said.
Kwasman has a master’s degree in economics and described himself as “a wonky conservative in the vein of Paul Ryan.”
He said if elected he was willing to work collaboratively to continue focus on the economy.
“I’m willing to work with anyone to create jobs in Arizona,” Kwasman said.
Joseph’s priorities run directly counter to those of his Republican opponents.
He said he was “frustrated” with the state Legislature’s focus on “ideology and not issues.”
“There’s been too much time focusing on women, immigration and things like that,” Joseph said.
Joseph also is focusing on the economy but wants to do so using an “innovative and creative vision for raising the economy and creating jobs in Arizona.”He wants to address the economy by creating infrastructure for the proposed Interstate 11 highway.
“Southern Arizona should be a gateway for commerce and we need to build the roads and infrastructure,” Joseph said.
He also wants to work on “more smartly investing in education,” a move he said would begin with changing the per-pupil funding allocation.
Despite his non-ideological outlook on legislating, Joseph said if elected he would be “collaborative.”