Dist. 11 Senate candidates agree on problems, diverge on solutions
By Christina Sampson
Incumbent state Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson, and Democratic hopeful Jo Holt agree education, the economy and immigration are some of Arizona’s most pressing problems.
However, there the consensus stops there for the two running in the newly created state Senate District 11.
When it comes to the economy, Melvin said, “The No. 1 job is to help the private sector create as many jobs as possible,” and for the state Legislature to continue to “not spend more than we bring in.”
On education, Melvin is a staunch supporter of charter schools and giving parents “maximum choice” in what schools their children can attend.
Holt, on the other hand, said she “supports traditional K-12 education” and wants to restore the 20 percent she said has been cut from the state’s education budget.
For Holt, improving the education system and fixing the economy are intertwined issues.
“Education is connected to jobs and the economy,” Holt said.
Holt said an improved public-education system, supported by state funding, would ultimately draw more businesses to Arizona and help improve the economy.
Melvin pointed to the sale of the capitol complex buildings as an indication of how the Legislature has protected education funding of $9,300 per pupil.
Holt consistently has contested that figure, saying it’s not a true picture of the state’s funding commitment to education because it includes federal funding.
The bottom line, for her, is the 20 percent of state funding cut from the education budget.
The two disagree on immigration.
Holt said the state’s obligation is to maintain public safety for residents who live near the border.
Melvin said Arizona should be more pro-active in securing the border, backing a border-fence bill forwarded by state Sen. Steve Smith, R- Maricopa, and signed by the governor.Both candidates acknowledged the importance of bipartisanship for an effective state Legislature.
In the past, he said, he had support from Democrats for several bills he supported.
“I needed a lot of Democrat votes to make up for the Republican votes I lost,” Melvin said.
Holt said if elected she would work with both parties.
“It is the political polarization in the state Legislature that keeps them from working collaboratively,” Holt said.
To learn more about the candidates’ respective views, watch them debate at the Oct. 13 forum co-hosted by InMaricopa.com by clicking here.