Arizona Corporation Commission candidates Justin Olson, Jim O'Connor and Bill Mundell congratulate each other after taking audience questions Aug. 4. Photo by Victor Moreno

Candidates running for state and legislative seats answered questions from the public at the InMaricopa.com Town Hall Saturday. From Arizona Corporation Commission to treasurer, they address a wide range of issues.

Maricopa resident Tena Dugan asked candidates campaigning for seats on the Corporation Commission what they would do for Global Water Customers.

Candidates largely referenced claims of corruption on the current commission and their promises to act in consumers’ best interests on how they would protect local water customers.

Former Commissioner Sandra Kennedy, who is fighting to return to the commission, said she has experience with the company.

“I worked very hard during my tenure, and I fought tooth and nail with Global Water,” Kennedy said. “I came down here during their rate case hearing and I listened to the people and I heard every word you said and everything you said to me, I put it in writing and I made Global Water do everything that the community down here wanted.”

Six State Representatives candidates for LD 11 discussed SR 347 funding, taxes and higher education funding.

Maricopa Councilmember Nancy Smith took the microphone to confront one incumbent and the other five hopefuls on how they would stop “passing the buck” to cities and counties while balancing the state budget.

“I am a protector of our city budget, I take it very seriously,” Smith said. “I have a big concern with the common practice that our legislatures have of balancing the budget on the backs of cities and counties.”

Smith said in the past, state budgets have cause Pinal County to increase taxes and the city to forego helpful programs to residents.

Democratic candidate Hollace Lyon said the state should “collaborate, not dictate” with cities and towns.

In the LD11 Senate race, in which there is no primary election, Republican Vince Leach, in his second term in the state house, and Democrat Ralph Atchue tackled public education funding and charter schools.

Talitha Martin, MHS English teacher, asked Leach if he supports transparency in public dollars spent by charter schools.
Leach said he does, as outlined through state statute.

“(Charter schools) have their own rules. You may not like that, I get that. You may not like that, but that was set up in 1998 and that’s how it is,” Leach said.

Leach referenced an article from U.S. News and World Report that he said showed Legislative District 11 boasts nine of the top 29 schools in Arizona.

“Charters are filling up overnight. Why are they filling up? Because they are getting a better education,” Leach said.

Atchue challenged Leach’s claims.

“If things are so great in Arizona why are we losing teachers every day to other states?” Atchue asked.

Maricopa/Stanfield Justice Court Judge Lyle Riggs facilitated the non-primary governor debate between Kelly Fryer (D) and Ken Bennett (R), as well as the treasurer race featuring Republican Jo Ann Sabbagh, the first accountant to run for the position.

MHS Educator Rick Abel moderated candidates campaigning to be Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The race includes candidates with public and charter school backgrounds. The debate predictably touched on education funding and school safety, as well as improving services for gifted students.

The eight-hour marathon town hall event at Maricopa High School featured debates from 11 Arizona races. The event was organized by InMaricopa.com and broadcast live on Facebook. To view the full debates, visit the InMaricopa Facebook page.

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