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ELECTION 2018: Arizona Legislative District 2 candidates Q&A

This has been updated with responses from two candidates, and has dropped the state Senate candidate who lost in the primary. It also drops the question about Invest In Ed after it failed to make the ballot.

Candidates who are running for state Senate and House seats in Legislative District 2 weigh in on Arizona’s pressing issues. House candidates: Democrats Rosanna Gabaldon and Daniel Hernandez, both incumbents; and Republicans challengers Anthony Sizer and Chris Ackerley (John Christopher Ackerley on the ballot). Senate: Democratic incumbent  Andrea Dalessandro, and GOP challenger Shelley Kais.

Q: Republicans have controlled the state Legislature for decades; Democrats claim they’ve been frozen out of major decisions on budgets and legislation. What’s your plan to ensure that all voices are heard at the Legislature?

Chris Ackerley: As a member of the majority caucus, I will not be shut out of these discussions. While serving in 2015 and 2016, I was able to pass 6 bills to address local issues in southern Arizona, more than all the other current and past representatives of this district combined. I also had a seat at the negotiating table during budget discussions. While the incumbents might claim it is their party affiliation that prevents them from advancing legislation, in truth it is their own partisanship that generally prevents them from working with the majority on important issues.

Andrea Dalessandro: Currently, there are 17 Republicans and 13 Democrats in the Senate. My plan is to have a Democratic majority to guarantee that ALL voices are heard. With the Red for Ed and March for Our Lives movements there was a civics lesson at the Capitol. They saw Democrats offer sensible amendments on a variety of issues and then see them be rejected. Twice in past sessions I had bipartisan support for my fight to restore Cherrybell Mail Processing to full operational status. This session I offered my SCM 1012 which urges Congress to pass the Nogales Wastewater Fairness Act. It had 27 sponsors in the Senate and not a single no vote in committee nor floor in both the House and Senate. There was a “friendly” amendment from a Republican Senator to address a wastewater issue in Naco. It may be the only “friendly” amendment that I have seen in my six years in the legislature. It should be the rule rather than the exception.

Rosanna Gabaldón: We won’t get anywhere if we don’t listen to each other. Over the past six years, I have worked on a variety of legislation with my colleagues across the aisle, and that will continue. The incredible Red for Ed movement has shown us that when the community is engaged and paying close attention, the Legislature dials down the partisanship and becomes more responsive to what every-day Arizonans want. I encourage everyone to ‘be engaged, hold us accountable. It works!’

Daniel Hernandez: It is not a claim that Democrats have been locked out it is a fact. It is also the case that rank and file Republicans are also locked out of budget negotiations. But while the budget is generally guided by legislative leadership and governor’s office, I am committed to continuing to bring LD 2’s perspective to the capitol in committee and on the house floor. I had 3 bills pass in committee and two pass the house this year that I was the prime sponsor I also had many others in which I was a cosponsor. Using my relationships with people on both sides of the aisle I will work to hold the legislative leadership accountable and to represent our residents. I’m able to work with diverse groups and I’m the only candidate in this race that is endorsed by groups as diverse as The Arizona Chamber of Commerce, Planned Parenthood and Arizona Education Association.

Shelley Kais: I have spent 30 years in business and I know how important it is to bring everyone to the table to get things done. As a Republican member of the Senate, I will be in the majority and commit to working to make sure that all members of the Senate have opportunities to represent their constituents. I will work with EVERYONE to serve the people of Legislative District 2. On November 7 I will ask to meet with the LD2 House-elected Representatives and begin working on legislation that supports Southern Arizona for R’s and D’s.

Anthony Sizer: When it comes to representation, every concern or issue should be looked at and how such issue or problem can be resolved. As a representative, it would be my responsibility to lead the problem solving.

Q: Maricopa County is among the fastest-growing counties in the nation. How can we take what’s happening there and make it work across the state, particularly for Pima County?

Chris Ackerley: One of the biggest issues facing economic growth and development for Southern Arizona is the lack of cooperation between city, county and state governments. I have a track record of being effective in state government and will work to bring together key players in the region to facilitate growth.

Andrea Dalessandro: I must question if we want to try to be like Maricopa County with its status as the fastest growing county. Smart and healthy growth should be the norm for Pima County. Phoenix has had serous Air Quality issues with frequent alerts. http://ktar.com/story/2122977/phoenix-area-among-worst-in-nation-for-air-pollution-study-finds/. Since we are in the midst of a long-term drought, any growth must be planned to insure a safe and adequate water supply.

Rosanna Gabaldón: We must continue to communicate our needs and work to find ways to encourage those in Maricopa County that the investment in the economic development of Southern Arizona benefits them. I will continue to address the funding needs for our roads and infrastructure. I will encourage the legislature to take advantage of the opportunity to capitalize on the improvements invested in the infrastructure of the State Route 189 Mariposa Rd. Finally, I will continue to advocate for public education; our students and educators depend on our support and encouragement.

Daniel Hernandez: There are many of us that represent Rural and non-Maricopa county districts. I have and will continue to work with my colleagues to take positions that will be important for our constituents across Arizona. When we hold strong our parties matter less than what our communities need outside of Maricopa. I’ve worked on several issues with lawmakers from our counties that impact our residents in LD2. It is also vital that we fight for program to encourage economic development in out counties and not merely in Maricopa. The two most important areas are infrastructure and workforce development.

Shelley Kais: As a State Senator, I will work for Pima and Santa Cruz County to have a “we’re open for business sign.” This means we must fix the IOI to ensure safe water; we must repair our roads; we must secure our infrastructure; we must work to ensure we have a talent pipeline that meets the needs of business; we must have high quality, high performing schools; we must attract healthcare providers to ensure quality healthcare; and, we must work with the businesses that are already here to grow and prosper in our community.

Anthony Sizer: Pima County problems are associated to the lack of accountable board of supervisors. Pima BOS continue to invest with our taxes without accountability. Basic services are an immediate priority and Pima BOS puts important basic services last and puts nice to have investment related ventures first. Because Pima County has substantial more tax base than Maricopa County, the problem in Pima County is more associated to the mismanagement by the Pima BOS.

Q: SB1147 failed to clear the Legislature last session. It would have allowed the Pima County Board of Supervisors to impose a sales tax for transportation with a majority vote instead of the required unanimous vote. Would you support this?

Chris Ackerley: This issue pits a principle against history in southern Arizona. The principle that government should be controlled at the local level is at odds with Pima County’s management issues. Unfortunately, no amount of state intervention can compensate for the dysfunction of local boards. By trying to solve a local problem at the state level, over 350 other jurisdictions are also affected. In the end I would side with principle and support giving local governments the power to ask their voters for more resources to deal with critical infrastructure needs. I would not support giving the Board of Supervisors the ability to impose a tax directly.

Andrea Dalessandro: Sales tax is my least favorite tax because it negatively impacts those who can afford it the least. I would prefer a mechanism that more closely reflects road use. This country is based on the concept of majority rules. The requirement that a County Board of Supervisor have a unanimous vote gives the absolute power to the minority on this issue and that goes against American values on both sides of the aisle.

Rosanna Gabaldón: I was initially supportive of the Bill until I reviewed the amendments added in the House Ways and Means Committee which essentially gutted the bill; rendering it ineffective and counter-productive. I did not get an opportunity to vote on this bill. I certainly support addressing the more significant concern that the original bill targeted, which is finding revenue for much-needed road infrastructure, especially in rural communities like those in Southern Arizona. I look forward to having a conversation about infrastructure in the next session.

Daniel Hernandez: The larger problem is that the current legislature is hostile towards local government. They impose mandates and pre-empt their measures but turn around and shift the burden to counties and municipalities. We often hear that the legislature has cut taxes but what we don’t hear is that we are shifting the burden of infrastructure to localities. For that reason I support counties taking appropriate steps to fund vital projects.

Shelley Kais: I support governing at the local level. While I oppose allowing the Board of Supervisors (BOS) to impose a sales tax directly on the taxpayers, I do not oppose the BOS asking the voters to support additional resources in support of community needs. While the majority vote rather than unanimous vote would serve local governments with strong opinions at both ends of the discussion, I would continue to support the unanimous vote and welcome the dialog it requires to get things done.

Anthony Sizer: I do not and did not support SB1147. SB1147 would have given Pima County BOS access to even more tax to mismanage. Thank goodness!

 Q: In a rare display of bipartisanship, the entire Legislature backed Gov. Ducey’s Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act earlier this year, which included improving access to treatment, cracking down on pill-mill fraud and limiting opioid prescriptions. Given all the aspects of the Act, how will we gauge success?

Chris Ackerley: The best way to gauge success in this case will be looking for decreasing rates of opioid deaths, decreasing addictions, and a slowing in the rate of growth of opioids as a drug being sold on the black market.

Andrea Dalessandro: It may take some more time to assess the full impact of the Opioid Bill. Doctors and health care providers have had to change their approach to this matter. Some of my constituents who have chronic pain and serious illnesses have reduced their opioid consumption with medical marijuana products. Others have asked for non-opioid anesthesia. We will have to look at deaths, emergency calls and hospitalizations related to opioid abuse. As soon I get a report I will submit it to the Green Valley News.

Rosanna Gabaldón: We fought for $10 million in funding to treat Arizonans who are under-insured, to expand the Angel Initiative statewide, and improved our Good Samaritan law. How do I measure success? When lives are saved, and when members of our communities in Southern Arizona can get life-saving Narcan kits or get connected to services, and when somebody calls 911 for an overdose rather than running away. Nobody believes that the bipartisan legislation we passed to address the opioid epidemic will solve the problem, but we know that it will save lives.

Daniel Hernandez: We will need to make fixes along the way but I think our success will be measured in how many people receive treatment and get on a pathway to recovery. I also see the decline of unnecessary prescriptions being given as a potential marker for success

Shelley Kais: Measuring success of the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act is important to ensure appropriate funding, performance, and accountability for a bipartisan initiative which means so much to so many people in Arizona. There are many metrics that can be used: decrease in deaths associated with overdose, increase in access to treatment, convictions of pill-mill fraud activity, reduction in use of opioid prescriptions, reduced arrests and convictions for sale of opioids, and reduced ER visits due to overdose. The key is that the data must be collected, verified, analyzed and reported to Arizonans.

Anthony Sizer: From my household view, not sure how this is so called an epidemic? From speaking many others, not sure if statistics can be generated due to a sol called epidemic requiring an “Act” not there are no clear quantitative measure. So we need to validate epidemic and its severity but how it’s going to be done will require more study.

Q: The Stop Political Dirty Money Amendment to the state Constitution would require a person who spends over $10,000 in an election in Arizona disclose where that money came from and to identify the original source of all contributions over $2,500. This will be on the November ballot, pending a challenge to signatures. Do you support it?

Chris Ackerley: I am all for transparency in our political process, and have run several campaigns as a Clean Elections candidate. I am currently running against a candidate who benefits from out of state political contributions. Unlimited and unaccountable spending has corrosive consequences on our democracy. However, the language of the Outlaw Dirty Money Initiative goes beyond just requiring disclosure. It grants an unelected commission jurisdiction for enforcement that should properly be in the courts. Because of this flaw, I am hesitant to support the measure.

Andrea Dalessandro: Candidates and initiative committees should be required to be fully transparent and accountable in reporting contributions received. As a Clean Elections candidate, every dime that I receive is accounted for.

Rosanna Gabaldón: Yes, I support the Outlaw Dirty Money initiative. Voters have the right to know who is trying to influence our elections and why. Transparency is the best way to restore faith in our political system. I'm crossing my fingers that the initiative qualifies for the ballot, and confident that Arizona voters will support it.

Daniel Hernandez: I’ve always disclosed my donors and believe it is unfortunate that we have lack of transparency with dark money groups. I support the public knowing where money spent to influence our elections is coming from.

Shelley Kais: I support transparency in all government and political spending. However, the language of this initiative turns a bureaucratic commission into a regulatory and enforcing agency—that I do not support.

Anthony Sizer: I support this. I see no reason why this should not be available to the public.

Q: What are the top three issues you hope will be addressed in the next Legislature?

Chris Ackerley: Education, infrastructure and healthcare.

Andrea Dalessandro: Support for public education from pre-K to university, accessible and affordable health care and clean air and adequate and safe water supply.

Rosanna Gabaldón: Public education, infrastructure, and sustainable water supplies. We must make sure that the gains we have made for our public schools are expanded and secured for the long haul. There is a fundamental need to improve our infrastructure; including rehabilitation of our roads and highways. Finally, we must all come together — Republicans and Democrats — and find a long-term solution to Arizona's water needs. We have a great history of making smart, bipartisan water policy, and our future depends on it.

Daniel Hernandez: 1. Shoring up our public education system is my top priority. We should stop trying to be average. Our students and educators deserve a state that strives to be the best. Instead of moving one or two spots from the bottom.

2. Creating economic development opportunities for lower Pima County and Santa Cruz county is paramount. By working with my supporters in the business communities and bringing in Career and Technical Education programs along with Community College programs we can help train the workforce of the future.

3. Gun Violence prevention is still in important topic that has not been addressed. The governor tried and failed to put through a watered down program called STOP Orders. We need to bring Democrats and Republicans back together to work on strengthening laws.

Shelley Kais: Jobs ▪ Education ▪ Public Safety

Anthony Sizer:

1. Update ARS 41-1034 to state all Arizona Counties not just Maricopa.

2. Constitution enforcement laws and oversight.

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