Art on the issues impacting District 6:
If the Arizona Legislature understood the economic and social impact of high quality K-12 education, they would certainly have returned education funding to at least 2008 pre-recession levels by now. Strong educational systems teach critical thinking, allow us to retain and attract businesses, and build safe and strong neighborhoods. Excellence in education is built with outstanding teachers and strategic investment of resources that develop well-educated adults. It builds passion for learning, cultivates student's personal responsibility, and prepares our children for the social, economic and technological challenges of the future.
We are naive to think we can achieve excellence in education without strengthening our investments. Core to my educational investment strategy is allocation of savings from reforming ineffective and wasteful tax giveaways and directing those towards K-12, community colleges and universities. Furthermore, long-term returns in early childhood, quality pre-school and kindergarten investments yield significant social and economic benefits to taxpayers.
Educational competition and innovation must be matched by transparency and accountability. All our schools - whether public or charter - should be held to the same set of standards and be provided equal opportunities for innovation and modernization. If schools do not provide similar services to students, they should not receive the same level of taxpayer funds. The Legislature should stop trying to pick the winners and losers in our educational system.
Although government is not a business, Arizona should utilize common sense business approaches to how we fiscally manage taxpayer money, deliver services, and engage in strategic long-term fiscal forecasting. As a small business owner, it is amazing to me that our state legislature and executive branch do not plan for recessions in their budgeting process. Fiscal management strategies must be based on the real world, not wishful thinking. With decades of business ownership, I am committed to implementing no-gimmick fiscal policies that use sound financial strategies to manage your tax money.
Government should not pick the winners and losers in our economy but rather create the conditions for a playing field where all business and taxpayers play by the same set of rules. I will bring leadership to legislation that sunsets corporate tax breaks and giveaways unless their economic value can be clearly demonstrated. What business would ever put something on sale and then never takes it off sale or asks if it accomplished what it intended? This reform alone could bring hundreds of millions of dollars for priorities like education and job creation.
We live in a society and an economy that is based on the marketplace of ideas, yet too often competition and meaningful debate is absent from our elections and democracy. Good ideas don't come from just one person, party or perspective. Our electoral system should engender participation dialogue across all parties and perspective. - Independent, Republican, Green, Libertarian, and, Democratic. I will speak strongly for an electoral systems which serves civil discourse and putting the politics of problem solving above the politics of hyper partisan ideology.
The health of our watersheds -- from the Verde River to Oak Creek to East Clear Creek -- are dependent on the healthy forested lands which feed our surface and groundwater resources. The threat of catastrophic wildfire and post-fire flooding is the number one public health and safety issue facing forested counties in northern Arizona. It is not a question of if we are going to pay for decades of unhealthy forest management policies, it is a question of when and how much.
Northern Arizona economies, communities, and quality of life are dependent on healthy forests, public lands recreation, hunting/fishing and tourism. I will continue to play a leadership role in advocating for strategies that reform antiquated and ineffective forest management policies, create forest industry jobs, and support resilient public lands. Given the increasing intensity of climate change and drought, northern Arizona needs an experienced and competent advocate in the Legislature to strategically advance healthy forest and watershed initiatives.
However, the tools of 40 years ago must be updated to serve the issues and realities of the new century. Given two decades of drought and the increasing intensity of climate change, there is an urgent need for a new set of water conservation and management tools.
Ground and surface water decisions must be made regionally..A “one size fits all” approach to water management may have been acceptable in the 1960s but is inadequate in 2020. I will be supportive of responsible ideas like Regional Water Authorities that allow local communities and water planning areas management tools to reflect the hydrological realities of our different watersheds and basins.
Healthy and restored forests create healthy and productive watersheds by improving groundwater recharge and mitigating the negative hydrological impacts of catastrophic wildfire. I have played leadership roles in forest restoration and watershed management in rural Arizona.
It is also imperative that we act conservatively and judiciously around mining and gas exploration relative to our surface and groundwater resources. We can not afford to be reckless with our future water resources. As a County Supervisor, I have opposed uranium mining operations that risk our long term groundwater resources at the expense of short term profits. I will take that same conservative approach with respect to gas exploration in the Holbrook basin.
Without good data and science, we cannot make informed water policy decisions. The Arizona Department of Water Resource needs the professional capacity to effectively plan and manage our water resources. We need legislative leadership to recognize and act on this.
With two decades to go in the 20th century, Arizona politicians put aside their partisan posturing and tackled the state’s water adequacy crisis. Thanks to their efforts to protect groundwater, we have largely been able to meet our human, agricultural and industrial needs.
Two decades into the 21st century we are again in crisis. Our streams and rivers run more slowly or not at all, our reservoirs continue to lower, and the Colorado River has turned out to be a limited resource. Catastrophic wildfire continues to rage through our unrestored forests, diminishing their role in protecting our watershed and basins.
State law still prohibits local governments from including water supply adequacy in their decision-making. In many parts of rural and Native Arizona, residents still haul their water.
It’s time for Arizona’s politicians to once again put aside their unrelenting partisanship and come up with a Water Resources Management Act that includes regional water authority for the next 40 years.
The Arizona legislature should stop dictating to counties, cities and towns how to manage their communities. One size does not fit all, nor should it.
A prime example is the legislature and governor preventing local governments from managing short term rentals. They failed to foresee the unintended consequences of their actions.
There is broad agreement that short term vacation rentals by owners who want to rent a bedroom or second home when they are not using it is exactly the kind of sharing economy that should be supported.
But in some communities, investor-owned commercial real estate ventures have jumped in, buying up local properties and turning them into commercial hotel-like operations.
Neighborhoods have had their character fundamentally changed, workforce housing has been negatively impacted, and local control around appropriate and predictable zoning has been seriously eroded.
And thanks to the state of Arizona, there is absolutely nothing people can do about it.
We have heard from voters across LD 6 that they are tired of legislators who rail against the overreach of the politicians in Washington, DC and then turn around and do the exact same thing to local communities.
I will fight for the rights of towns, cities, and counties to make decisions -- like how to manage vacation rentals -- that reflect the wishes of their communities.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit Coconino County, our Public Health Services District responded. It played a front line role in mobilizing Arizona’s first drive-up testing facility. It was the first to open a facility for housing insecure and homeless people who needed to quarantine and self-isolate. It coordinated the distribution of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline healthcare workers. Local government did its job.
The Arizona Legislature, at the most critical time of the pandemic and when leadership was most required, went into recess for over a month. There were “no objections” to this recess in the House of Representatives.
The Legislature could have met digitally, or it could have easily figured out how to meet while socially distancing. But they chose to simply not show up for work.
Instead of moving key initiatives forward like providing greater flexibility and waiving fees and penalties for late property tax payments, they went home.
Instead of waiving interest and penalty payments for late sales tax payments for struggling small businesses, they turned out the lights.
Instead of taking action to allow a full vote by mail for the August and November elections, they went on recess.
Instead of engaging in policy discussions about using the “rainy day” fund to help businesses, laid off workers and taxpayers who are literally struggling to stay alive, they decided to stop working.
In difficult times, citizens look to elected officials to provide leadership. The taxpayers and small business owners who pay legislators’ salaries rightfully expect that when the going gets tough, you show up for work and do your job.
Emergency preparedness and public health are core functions of government. When significant public safety issues confront us -- whether catastrophic wildfire or a public health emergency -- we need to be prepared and to clearly understand our roles.
I believe in the politics of problem solving, not the politics of rigid, hyper-partisan ideology. Good ideas don’t come from just one party… they can come from a variety of perspectives and beliefs.
Perhaps no issue is more entangled in emotion than immigration and border security. After 15 years in public service, I have learned one thing over and over again. We cannot solve really tough and complicated problems with simple solutions. Simplistic slogans only serve to obscure opportunities to make real progress.
A comprehensive approach to immigration reform and border security must begin with a set of shared values. I propose the following:
- Border security is integral to safe communities and a safe nation. Every country, including the United States of America, has the right to control who is coming across its borders, with what intentions, and for how long.
- Controlled immigration is vital to Arizona’s economic vitality. A vibrant, growing Arizona economy requires a recognition of the critical role immigration plays in our agricultural, tourism and related economic sectors.
- Families and children do not deserve to be victims. Keeping families together and protecting children must be priorities in our immigration enforcement and policies.
- Comprehensive immigration reform is the federal government’s responsibility. As a border state whose largest trading partner is Mexico, we can play a constructive and productive role in advocating for comprehensive reform at the federal level.
- Divisive and mean spirited rhetoric serve no useful purpose.
How do these values translate into policy? Any serious conversation must include enhanced border security, a focus on criminal and drug interdiction, stability and predictability for those who contribute and follow rules, and support for a reliable workforce.
A strong Arizona economy requires not only new workers but also new consumers. In the Legislature, I will be a voice that recognizes that we are both a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. That our actions must be rooted in the rule of law but also guided by compassion and caring for children and families. That a path to stability and predictability is in the interests of our businesses and those who contribute to our communities -- regardless of immigration status.
Balancing fairness, opportunity, respect for law, and economics will not be easy. I do not pretend to have all the answers. I will be a voice to move the conversation away from the extremes and be an advocate for true border security and comprehensive immigration reform.