Legislative District 11 candidates in the General Election answered questions about their campaigns and why they want to serve Arizonans. Early voting begins Oct. 12. Election Day is Nov. 8.
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Family: Married with 3 children, 7 grandchildren
Professional background: 33 years U.S. Postal Service (Letter Carrier to Postmaster)
Political background: Campaign volunteer since 1980s; LD11 Democratic Precinct Committee Person and Arizona Democratic Party State Committee Member since 2014
Biggest political influence: John Kennedy
Why are you running for office? I believe Arizona working families are losing their access to opportunity and prosperity. They need a state government that ensures equal access to quality education and opportunity.
What do you believe you can accomplish in the Legislature during the next term of office? My goal is to prioritize families and children ahead of rigid ideology. From tax policy to investments in education and infrastructure, I will consider the citizens rather than lobbyists and campaign donors.
What mechanism would you like to see the state use for funding education? I support a full review of every tax loophole and break. They now total $12 billion per year. Those deemed ineffective in driving economic growth should be eliminated.
What is the single biggest challenge Arizona faces and why? Our state is facing a loss of political “checks and balance.” The Republican-dominated state government has lost touch with the needs of the citizens. They have become obsessed with consolidation of power and control of every level of government, choking off compromise and voter involvement, even threatening cities if they pass local ordinances.
What role should the state play in border security? Border Security is a National responsibility. State funding of redundant security is not fiscally responsible. Local and state law enforcement must coordinate and supplement but not lead on border security.
What should voters know about your opponent? Steve Smith broke his promise to not be a career politician. He has stated national security is his No. 1 priority proving he has lost touch with the citizens of our state. He has undermined public education and voted against KidsCare, turning his back on working and low income families.
Steve Smith (incumbent)
Political party: Republican
Hometown: Grosse Pointe, Michigan
Family: Married to my beautiful wife and we have 5 amazing children
Education: Graduated with honors from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and a Cognate in Business Law
Employment background: Current director of a Phoenix-based talent agency and current state senator
Political background: Current state senator and senator from 2010-2012, House of Representatives member from 2012-2014.
Biggest political influence: George Washington
1. Why are you running for office? To continue fighting for ‘God, Family and Country’ and continuing my work in bringing free market and conservative values and principles to Arizona.
2. What do you believe you can accomplish in the Legislature during the next term of office? I’ll continue defending the taxpayers as I’ve been named ‘Champion of the Taxpayer,’ I’ll continue to be the Legislature’s leading voice to secure our borders, I’ll continue to provide record level funding for K-12 education without raising taxes while promoting school choice, and continue to defend life and traditional marriage.
3. What mechanism would you like to see the state use for funding education? Arizona is currently at record spending levels for K-12 as over 50 percent of our $9.6 billion budget is spent on education alone and with the passage of Prop 123, an additional $3.5 billion over the next 10 years will be infused into K-12, so the current funding mechanism is adequate.
4. What is the single biggest challenge Arizona faces and why? The unsecure border, because whatever issue you care about (education, healthcare, the economy, jobs, public safety, terrorism threats, etc.), directly relates to the costs and consequences of the unsecure border. Reports show that Arizona spends approximately $2.4 billion per year just on healthcare, education, and imprisonment costs for illegal aliens, money that can be used for all of the items listed above. This does not take into account the crime, drugs, and other social and fiscal costs associated with this problem. I’ve never blamed the illegal for coming here; I blame our government for doing nothing to fix this problem.
5. What role should the state play in border security? States should play little to no role as border security is the responsibility of the federal government, HOWEVER, when the feds are derelict in their duty, states must protect themselves. That’s why I raised nearly $300,000 of private money to help build a virtual fence because of the feds inaction.
6. What should voters know about your opponent? I’m sure my opponent is well intentioned, but there is a clear difference. My opponent wants more government intervention in our lives, more taxes, more legalization of drugs, and more abortions whereas I fight for the opposite and support limited government, lower taxes, less drugs, and the sanctity of life.
Arizona House of Representatives
Mark Finchem (incumbent)
Residence: Oro Valley
Hometown: Kalamazoo, Michigan
Family: Married with 4 children
Education: AAS Criminal Justice
Professional background: 21 years a Firefighter/Law Enforcement Officer (Ret.), 7 years Manager with Intuit Small Business Division, 8 years Realtor
Political background: Supporter of pro-family, pro-life and pro-liberty causes and candidates, 1 term as an Arizona Representative
Biggest political influence: Thomas Jefferson and his work to frame a system of governance that the people would be able to control locally
Why are you running for office? I care deeply about the present state and future state of Arizona; I love my children, I want them to have the opportunities I’ve had.
What do you believe you can accomplish in the Legislature during the next term of office? Continue progress on paying down debt from past administrations, turning failing schools around, lifting more people out of poverty through personal freedom and economic freedom, and protecting our state lands from ever-increasing federal domination over our state sovereignty and guarding our civil rights from erosion by the federal bureaucracy.
What mechanism would you like to see the state use for funding education? Every dollar spent on education whether federal, state or local comes from the taxpayers. The layered local, state and federal approach we currently have helps to flatten differences between districts. Local districts want to have local control [overrides], a mechanism that provides maximum voter control over funding.
What is the single biggest challenge Arizona faces and why? Expanding our tax base, which ties back to the mechanism of public education funding. The use of federally controlled Arizona lands generates fees and taxes that are sent to Washington DC. Arizona doesn’t receive those tax base dollars; we experience an economic opportunity cost of $13.78 for every federal taxpayer dollar spent on land management. Transfer of the lands promised to Arizona at statehood were promised because they were intended to be used for generating viable, self sustaining tax base like all of the states east of the Mississippi River. This is a civil rights issue based on equal footing.
What role should the state play in border security? Enforce the law, catch and turn over to ICE. If an individual is violating an Arizona statute prosecute him/her under Arizona law. Since the federal government says it wants to own enforcement border security, then it should own its failure to get the job done as well.
What should voters know about your opponent? Her website, which is rife with erroneous assertions, is hammond4house.com.
Vince Leach (incumbent)
Residence: Unincorporated Pinal County
Hometown: Coloma, Wisconsin
Family: Married, one son
Education: BS Political Science/History
Professional background: 37 years sales/sales management/product development, current owner of small business
Political background: One term Arizona House of Representatives, many activities at state, county, school board and Central Arizona College
Biggest political influence: Constituents
Why are you running for office? I want to continue the successful results I’ve achieved at the state Legislature, county, Central Arizona College and school board levels representing constituents. Very honored.
What do you believe you can accomplish in the Legislature during the next term of office? Continue to balance the budget, reduce debt, set polices to foster business growth that will add additional revenues to those areas of government services that may need it as Arizona population continues to grow.
What mechanism would you like to see the state use for funding education? State land, federal land and natural resources that are plentiful in Arizona such as minerals and forests.
What is the single biggest challenge Arizona faces and why? Growing the economy, jobs and continuous growth are the fuels that drive the economic health of the State of Arizona.
What role should the state play in border security? Unfortunately, the federal government is simply not performing their duties. That said, the state will have to continue shoulder more responsibility to protect our residents and our economy as Arizona did this year with the Border Strike Force.
What should voters know about your opponent? For those wishing to ask questions of the candidate, please use this link to government published contact information: http://apps.azsos.gov/apps/election/cfs/search/CandidateSearch.aspx
Corin Michelle Hammond
Hometown: Corvallis, Oregon
Family: Husband David, daughter Summer, puppies Winston and Hazel
Education: Bachelor’s degree in chemistry, master’s degree in inorganic chemistry, Ph.D. candidate in soil and water chemistry
Professional background: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Louisiana State University, University of Arizona
Political background: I have been an active supporter of Democratic Party values for the past 13 years.
Biggest political influence: Elizabeth Warren. She is not afraid of speaking the truth and does so with class and professionalism.
Why are you running for office? I am a concerned citizen and mother challenging the lack of support for healthcare and education improvements for our Arizona children.
What do you believe you can accomplish in the Legislature during the next term of office? Adding one more seat in the Arizona Legislature toward an even party split guarantees that my vote will encourage bipartisan compromise in Arizona lawmaking to effectively serve Arizona taxpayers and voters. I will work hard against the leadership’s habit of violating voter-enacted laws.
What mechanism would you like to see the state use for funding education? Gov. Ducey promised Arizonans a Step 2 following the passing of Prop. 123 to improve Arizona’s national public education rankings. Arizona’s budget surplus (taxpayer money) should be used to increase public teacher salaries to match national averages and fill the growing number of teacher vacancies in our schools.
What is the single biggest challenge Arizona faces and why? Arizona legislators often work for wealthy special interest groups instead of working for the voters. I’m tired of these Big Brother-style legislators telling us what we can and can’t do rather than asking what they should do. Our state legislators boast fiscally conservative records as they waste taxpayer money to pay for lawsuits against voter-enacted laws. Arizona taxpayers pay double for these lawsuits because we pay to both fight and defend our laws. It makes no sense. This friction weakens the voting power of individual Arizonans and strengthens the power of wealthy special interest groups from outside Arizona.
What role should the state play in border security? The state Legislature must ensure that state law enforcement agencies have appropriate funding for safety equipment, technology and public outreach programs to effectively keep our communities safe and cooperate with federal, county and municipal law enforcement groups.
What should voters know about your opponent? My opponents voted against KidsCare, a federally-funded program with popular bipartisan support that now provides health insurance to 30,000 Arizona children of the working poor at no additional cost to Arizonans. If my opponents got their way, Arizona would be the only state to lose this financial opportunity.
This article appears in part in the October issue of InMaricopa.