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General Election

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Kyrsten Sinema (left) and Martha McSally

Pinal County Elections Department estimates it has 20,000 early ballots and 6,800 provisional ballots left to count.

Statewide there are an estimated 400,000 outstanding ballots. As the U.S. Senate race is thisclose, the methodical count and inconsistent policies on “curing” mail-in ballots have political party leadership on edge. The Republican Party in four counties sued Wednesday night and took particular aim at the recorders in Maricopa and Pima counties for allegedly not following a uniform standard by allowing voters extra days to fix or “cure” the ballots when signatures did not seem to match registration records.

Friday, they reached a settlement that allows rural counties to “cure” their early ballots in the same way until Nov. 14.

At issue is the battle for Jeff Flake’s senate seat between Democrat Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Martha McSally. McSally had been slightly ahead of Sinema since early counts began to be announced Tuesday night until late Thursday afternoon. As of 3:45 p.m. Friday, Sinema had a 9,097-vote lead.

The only other race that flipped in such a manner was for superintendent of public instruction. Democrat Kathy Hoffman had trailed Republican Frank Riggs in the early count but overtook him Thursday and now leads by more than 20,000 votes.

Meanwhile Democrat Sandra Kennedy quietly has edged closer to Republican Rodney Glassman in the election for Corporation Commissioner. There are two seats available. Though Republican Justin Olson is the top vote-getter so far, the top three candidates are separated by less than a percentage point. Kennedy is behind Glassman by 6,733 votes.

U.S. Senate
Kyrsten Sinema 943,099 votes 49.8%
Martha McSally 934,002 votes 48.6%

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Facilitator AnnaMarie Knorr (left) chats with State House candidates Hollace Lyon and Bret Roberts. Photo by Jeff Kronenfeld.

Two of the four candidates running for the two Arizona House of Representatives seats for Legislative District 11 squared off at the InMaricopa.com General Election Town Hall on Saturday. Present at the event were Col. Hollace Lyon (ret.), a Democrat, and Constable Bret Roberts, a Republican.

Not present were incumbent Rep. Mark Finchem, a Republican, and candidate Marcela Quiroz, a Democrat.

Several of the questions asked in the debate related to energy policy and Proposition 127, which would require private Arizona power utilities to produce 50 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2030.

It was a hot-button issue throughout the day, and Lyon acknowledged it was a tough one for her. Though she supports the proposition, she expressed some concerns about the inflexibility of the measure. She said that Arizona Public Service Electric Company (APS), makes roughly $400 million in profits annually and the CEO has an annual salary of $15 million. She advocated for the Arizona Corporate Commission to ensure that some of the increased costs of compliance will come out of the company’s profits, rather than passed entirely to ratepayers.

Roberts opposes Proposition 127, stating he believed it would increase individual ratepayers costs by $1,000 a year. He said other countries, such as Canada, China and Japan, were divesting from renewable energy.

“The solar industry is kind of becoming a fossil,” Roberts said.

Lyon expressed doubt over these claims. If what Roberts said about the shift in energy policy in other countries is accurate, she saw it as an opportunity to fill the void.

The candidates sparred over a number of issues, such as whether Arizona should take over more federal lands within the state. Roberts was for this and Lyon opposed. Roberts said that only 16 to 17 percent of lands within the state were taxable, while states such as New Jersey are able to tax 97 percent of their land.

“We’re at a deficit before we even start,” Roberts said.

Lyon strongly disagreed, sarcastically asking what could go wrong if the state did take over federal lands, noting the Wallow Fire in 2011 cost the federal government $109 million, while the entire budget for firefighting and suppression in Arizona was only between $5 million and $10 million annually.

“One good fire and we would just wipe out the Arizona budget,” Lyon said.

The two candidates also disagreed over tax policy. Lyon attacked what she described as $13.7 billion in tax loopholes, which she believed should be reexamined to see if they generate a sufficient return on investment to offset the loss in revenue. She also said that 74 percent of corporations in Arizona paid $50 or less annually in taxes to the state. Roberts disagreed with both points.

“This tax loophole thing is just a fallacy,” he said.

Roberts preferred the term tax policy to tax loopholes. He also argued that corporations paying such low taxes generated revenue for the state by bringing new jobs and increased economic activity.

Both candidates agreed they had strong differences in opinion and approaches.

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Ralph Atchue (center) and Vince Leach debated the issues in a Town Hall session facilitated by AnnaMarie Knorr. Photo by Jeff Kronenfeld

Democrat Ralph Atchue came out swinging against Republican Rep. Vince Leach in the first debate of the day for the InMaricopa.com General Election Town Hall on Saturday.

The two candidates for the state Senate seat for Legislative District 11 offered strongly contrasting views on important issues for Maricopa residents such as education, taxes, prisons, water policy and new development in desert areas.

Atchue went on the offensive in his opening remarks, stating that Arizona was facing “tough problems” and his opponent was not only “part of the problem” but was the “main obstacle standing in the way of coming up with common sense solutions.”

In contrast, Leach avoided personal remarks, offering a more optimistic view of the state’s current condition, though he did dispute Atchue’s claims a number of times. The positions of each candidate generally corresponded to that of their party.

Education funding levels were front and center throughout the debate. Leach argued only slight increases in state revenue would be needed to fully fund Gov. Doug Ducey’s planned 20 percent increase to Arizona public school teachers’ salaries by 2020.

“We’ve put $2.7 billion back in the school system since I came in 2015,” Leach said.

Atchue rebutted this with a scathing criticism of Leach and Gov. Ducey’s education policy, stating the Republicans initially offered teachers only a 1 percent increase in pay, relenting to the greater increase only after tens of thousands of teachers walked out of schools in April.

AnnaMarie Knorr, president of the Maricopa Unified School District governing board, served as the moderator and opened the debate by asking whether current taxes in the state were too high, too low or just about right. Atchue said taxes were “out of balance.” He proposed an audit of the state’s current tax scheme, attacking what he described as tax loopholes and tax credits, which he claimed offered little return on investment.

“Because the state has abdicated it’s responsibility for funding things like public education, infrastructure, juvenile detention, many things, the tax burden has been pushed onto counties and cities who have no recourse but to raise sales taxes and property taxes,” Atchue said.

Leach acknowledged the state had experienced “tough times” in the past, mentioning a one-time budget shortfall of $3 billion, but said Arizona was now experiencing increasing revenue.

“Our overall tax system is very, very good in the state of Arizona,” Leach said. “In fact, we’re a tax haven.”

Leach cited lowering taxes and other pro-business policies as responsible for attracting new residents and businesses to the state. Atchue disputed this last claim, arguing the state’s climate was more responsible for attracting new residents than its tax policy.

The two candidates also differed on infrastructure issues, though both agreed on the need to improve dangerous intersections and to expand road capacity.

A question about the use of private prisons demonstrated a strong difference of opinion between the candidates. Leach supports the use of private prisons when cost-effective and claimed prison populations in the state were declining. Atchue disputed that prison populations are decreasing and did not support increasing the use of private prisons.

As both candidates’ forceful closing remarks made clear, residents of Maricopa have two very different options available in the senate race for Legislative District 11 this November.

Unofficial results show Mark Lamb will be the next sheriff of Pinal County after his defeat of Kaye Dickson.

Mark Lamb may have had an R after his name on the campaign trail, but he does not expect his tenure as Pinal County sheriff to be a replica of Paul Babeu’s.

Lamb, 43, defeated Democrat Kaye Dickson in a tough contest. Unofficial numbers from Tuesday’s General Election gave him 58 percent of the vote.

“We were confident when we went into it,” he said of election night. “But it’s like a jury trial; you never know what’s going to happen.”

Lamb wants to boost morale in the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office. That includes better pay, but is not limited to that.

“When people leave a job, 75 percent leave because of management,” he said. “We’ve got to create a good work environment.”

Lamb also wants to smooth feathers that were more than ruffled in Babeu’s battle with the county’s Board of Supervisors. Babeu was so upset with budget decisions he sought out candidates to endorse against some of the sitting members.

Some supervisors were at the election party with Lamb to watch results.

“They’re very excited. They see what we would like to fix,” Lamb said. “I don’t anticipate having issues with the board.”

Babeu has been arguably the second most-known sheriff in Arizona because of his tough talk on border issues. Lamb wants to take a different approach.

“I want to focus on Pinal County,” he said. “If it doesn’t benefit Pinal County, I don’t need to be on the news. If Fox [News] calls, what are they going to do for me?”

Lamb said he does not want to give the county a black eye and scare off possible new businesses or residents with over-emphasis on drugs and smuggling crimes in interviews and public statements. It is an echo of his statement during the campaign: “We need to be unpredictable for the cartels without broadcasting our tactics for political gain.”

While Lamb eschews much of Babeu’s style as sheriff, he has welcomed outreach from his fellow Republican as the transition period begins.

“I’ve been texting with him daily,” Lamb said. “They’re setting up an office for us at the sheriff’s office. He wants to help in the transition.”

As for Dickson, Lamb was impressed with her effort in a Republican-heavy county.

“Everywhere we went, we saw her getting support. Kaye worked very hard,” Lamb said. “We had to work hard to keep pace.”

From his own supporters, Lamb discovered there was a variety of reasons they voted for him but a common theme.

“They told me, ‘You stand for what I believe.’ I just want to get back to the basics,” he said.

Lamb will take the oath of office in January.

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(From left) Mark Finchem, Corin Hammond and Vince Leach are running for two seats in the state House of Representatives. Ralph Atchue is running for state senator against incumbent Steve Smith.

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.

Arizona Senate

Ralph Atchue    
Party: Democrat
Age: 68
Residence: Eloy
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Family: Married with 3 children, 7 grandchildren
Education: BA
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)

State Sen. Steve Smith
State Sen. Steve Smith

Political party: Republican
Age: 40
Residence: Maricopa
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)
Party: Republican
Age: 59
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)
Party: Republican
Age: 68
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
Party: Democrat
Age: 31
Residence: Marana
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.

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Republican Paul Babeu mocks rival Democrat Tom O'Halleran, who again did not participate in a debate for Congressional District 1 candidates at a forum in Maricopa Sept. 17.

Here are some highlights of Saturday’s debate among candidates for five races in the General Election. The debate was sponsored by InMaricopa, Maricopa Monitor and Maricopa Chamber of Commerce at UltraStar Multi-tainment Center.