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State Rep. Vince Leach (left) and Democrat opponent Ralph Atchue at a feisty debate in August, are scheduled to appear in an Oct. 6 InMaricopa.com Town Hall for the General Election. Photo by Angelica Ramis.

 

The InMaricopa.com General Election Town Hall is set for Oct. 6 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Maricopa High School’s Performing Arts Center.

State and local candidates will discuss the issues with their opponents and take questions from the public ahead of the Nov. 6 election. The event is free to attend. RSVP at MaricopaEvents.com.

In a survey of attendees after the Primary Election Town Hall, more than 90 percent said the event affected the way they would vote.

“The opportunity for political candidates to engage with prospective voters about issues the voters care about is a priceless element of our democracy,” InMaricopa Editor Raquel Hendrickson said. “So, we encourage voters and candidates to bring thoughtful discussion points to help highlight the differences between the campaigns.”

The morning block starting at 10 a.m. will have candidates for state house and senate for Legislative District 11. The afternoon block starting at noon will have candidates for Arizona Corporation Commission, constable and more offices.

The rules for candidates and audience alike are simple: Be respectful, be succinct and stay on topic.

The town hall is in partnership with Maricopa High School and Be Awesome Youth Coalition.

Doors open at 9:45 a.m. A LEGO pool supervised by Be Awesome Youth Coalition volunteers will be available for children whose parents wish to attend.

520-568-0040
Raquel@InMaricopa.com, MaricopaEvents.com.

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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.

Nearly 40 candidates are lined up to participate in a Primary Election town hall Saturday in Maricopa.

InMaricopa.com Town Hall features federal, state and local races in three time-blocks at the Maricopa High School Performing Arts Center. The candidates will take questions directly from the audience. The event will be shown on Facebook Live starting at 10 a.m. on Facebook.com/InMaricopa, where viewers can also ask questions that may be relayed to the candidates as time permits. Viewers can also follow on Twitter and Instragram @InMaricopa.

The Town Hall begins at 10 a.m. All are invited to watch, listen and participate.

Facilitators include Mayor Christian Price, state Sen. Frank Pratt, Judge Lyle Riggs, educator Rick Abel and government relations specialist Janeen Rohovit of SRP.

Those in attendance who wish to question candidates will be asked to line up at a stationary microphone.

The facilitators will hold candidates and audience members to the same rules: 1. Be polite. 2. Stay on topic. 3. Be concise (don’t repeat yourself). Because this is a primary debate, candidates are encouraged to engage conversationally with primary opponents on the issues but not with candidates from other parties who may also be on stage.

Students from high school organizations including Student Council, Air Force Junior ROTC, Junior State of America, National Honor Society and the MHS Marching Band will play important roles in running the event. Also participating are members of the Be Awesome Youth Coalition, which will be selling water and hot dogs in the lobby.

The lobby will also be the place to meet many of the candidates as several have prepared campaign tables to share their message.

Block 1 involves candidates running for Congress. All three Republicans on the ballot for U.S. House of Representatives – Wendy Rogers, Tiffany Shedd and Steve Smith – have indicated their participation. Kelli Ward, a Republican, is the only U.S. Senate candidate to sign up and will take questions on her own.

Block 2, scheduled to start no sooner than 11 a.m., features state races.

Six of eight candidates seeking two seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission are scheduled to appear – Democrats Sandra Kennedy, Bill Mundell and Kiana Sears, and Republicans Justin Olson (an incumbent), Jim O’Connor and Eric Sloan.

They will be followed by all six candidates running for state representative in Legislative District 11 – Democrats Hollace Lyon, Barry McCain and Marcela Quiroz, and Republicans Mark Finchem (an incumbent), Howell Jones and Bret Roberts. Three of the candidates are Maricopa residents.

Though they have no primary competition, LD 11 Senate candidates Vince Leach, a Republican, and Ralph Atchue, a Democrat, will take audience questions.

Two governor candidates have agreed to appear – Republican Ken Bennett and Democrat Kelly Fryer. They will be followed by state treasurer candidate Jo Ann Sabbagh.

Five of seven candidates for state superintendent of public instruction are scheduled next. They are Republicans Bob Branch, Jonathan Gelbart and Frank Riggs, and Democrats Kathy Hoffman and David Shapira.

Block 3 includes county and city races and is expected to start after 2 p.m.

Republicans Scott McKee and Amanda Stanford (an incumbent) are the only candidates vying for the position of clerk of Pinal County Superior Court.

All three candidates for constable of the Maricopa/Stanfield Justice Court are expected to participate – Republicans Bill Griffin and Glenn Morrison and Democrat Andre LaFond.

To wind up the day of politics, seven city council candidates will take the stage – Linette Caroselli, Vincent Manfredi (an incumbent who is minority owner of InMaricopa), Bob Marsh, Cynthia Morgan, Paige Richie, Rich Vitiello and Henry Wade (an incumbent). They are running for three seats in a nonpartisan election.

The schedule is tentative. Learn about the Town Hall at MaricopaEvents.com.

Former legislator Cloves Campbell Jr. talks to a Maricopa town hall on African American Affairs May 11. Photo by Mason Callejas

Local and state leaders met at Copper Sky Thursday to discuss African-American affairs in Maricopa, the state and across the country.

“As a black person, I’ve never felt safer than here [in Maricopa].”

The crowd of mostly African-American Arizonans came from as far away as Florence and north Phoenix to attend the town-hall style meeting hosted by former state representative Cloves Campbell Jr. and the Arizona Commission on African-American Affairs.

Topics of discussion ranged from concerns about youth poverty and education to police brutality.

Maricopa Police Chief Steve Stahl asked Campbell how the state defines youth homelessness. Stahl said when he arrived in Maricopa several years ago, he said, it was such a problem kids were sleeping on the roof of the high school.

Campbell was unable to provide the legal definition of the term, though he acknowledged homelessness is “not solely an African-American problem, it’s a work problem.”

The former legislator emphasized a need for proper education and workforce development, two things he believes will help bring about change.

Chief Stahl further indicated many young homeless people in Maricopa are “couch surfing” as a result of parents who leave the area to follow work. His hope is the state will broaden its interpretation of youth homelessness and eventually provide the city with funding and resources to help curb the issue.

On the education topic, Maricopa Unified School District Student Development Advocate Jim Irving raised concerns about the new U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos and his fears that she may begin to “chip away” at the Elementary-Secondary Education Act.

Irving’s fear is exacerbated, he said, by the fact that for the past two years the state has threatened to reel in desegregation funding which MUSD and other similar districts receive. He added the state has always withdrawn the legislation before a vote could be held, thus making it unlikely those funds will be withdrawn anytime soon.

Campbell said he can help put concerned citizens in contact with relevant parties at the Department of Education, though it will likely not be Devos.

The education discussion continued around public schools versus charter schools and the apparent lack of transparency and accountability charter schools have despite receiving tax-payer funding.

Maricopa Vice-Mayor Marvin Brown said a lack of accountability and the right charter schools reserve to refuse students at their discretion could potential create a strain on public schools.

“Charter schools can cherry-pick students,” Brown said. “Public schools can’t turn them away, and that’s a problem.”

In response to the vice-mayor, Irving said “that’s OK,” and welcomed the challenge. To him, the charter schools have helped raise the bar for MUSD and other public schools, allowing those institutions to improve at great benefit to the students.

Police Chief Steve Stahl discusses police/community relations at the town hall. Photo by Mason Callejas

The last, and possibly most divisive, topic of discussion was that of the relationship between police and the African-American community. To that, Chief Stahl said the shooting of unarmed suspects is often the result of tactical errors made by the officer.

“Officers put themselves in that spot,” Stahl said. “We’re human, we aren’t perfect”

Officers, Stahl added, are rarely criminally liable when shooting an unarmed person, as most officers are justified if they feel the person is a threat to someone else. Civil charges, however, are quite different, meaning that even if an officer is found to not have violated the law, they can be found to have violated civil rights and the department and officer themselves can be financially liable.

One solution offered in response was to ensure that police, and all city officials, are residents of the city so they not only live among those they work for, but also must suffer the consequences of their actions. “That’s ownership” one attendee said.

Another remedy was to put an emphasis on community policing.

While ideal and preferred, Stahl said it can be difficult in fiscally conservative communities like Maricopa, with limited resources.

“Cities now realize you can get by with less,” Stahl said. “I can’t do quite as well, or as good as the good ole days when you knew your ‘beat cop,’ because I don’t have enough police officers to walk the street.”

By comparison, New York City has 4.3 officers per 1,000 residents, Maricopa has less than 1.3 officers per 1,000 residents.

Many of the attendees praised Stahl and his officers. One went so far as to say, “as a black person, I’ve never felt safer than here [in Maricopa].”

For those who expressed concern over the safety of their teenage and young adult children who may encounter police officers, Stahl said, “I encourage them to come do a ride along.”

This, Stahl said, is important to helping the African-American community and the law enforcement community rebuild trust.