At the Scottsdale Public Library's Mustang Branch Monday evening, the Arizona We Want Institute held a forum, moderated by former ASU president Lattie Coor, for LD23 candidates to tell citizens how they intend to bring us closer to the Arizona We Want, especially on the subject of education. The candidates then fielded questions from the audience.
In the picture above, from Left to Right, Republican House candidate Jay Lawrence, a former radio talk show host; Republican House candidate Bob Littlefield, currently a member of the Scottsdale City Council; Democratic Senate candidate Paula Pennypacker, president of Just for Redheads International; and Republican Senate candidate Jeff Schwartz, a local real estate professional who is challenging state Rep. John Kavanagh in the LD23 GOP primary. Not pictured, Republican House candidate Effie Carlson and Kavanagh also were on the panel. Incumbent state Rep. Michelle Ugenti, running for re-election, did not bother to attend.
The highlight of the evening, in my view, was... well, there were a couple of them. Six candidates, only one of whom was a Democrat. That was Paula. Speaking confidently, Paula grabbed the audience's attention with her opening remarks.
I have been a citizen politician for over 30 years -- fighting for good government, protecting taxpayers, and weeding out waste and corruption in government.
I am running today to be your state senator because I believe that the voice of “we the people” has been missing from the debate.
After all, when did it become acceptable to make decisions that benefit just a few and not what is in the best interest for our children, our families and our neighborhoods?
If Republican lawmakers think our educational system is great -- then why are we last?
If they believe that our child and family protection services are great -- then why did they let happen what happened?
If they believe that cutting taxes for 24 of the las 25 years is great -- then where are the jobs? Where is the recovery? Where is the “trickle down?”
Let’s face it -- we need to stop the divisive partisan politics and start to work together so we can restore an effective working government at the Capitol and put Arizona back on track to being a leading state in the great nation.
Together we can make a difference -- I’m Paula Pennypacker and I would love to be your voice in the Arizona State Senate.The fact of the matter is that in order to restore sanitytm it's going to take a break from the Republican party at the Arizona Capitol. This is one Senate seat that will make a HUGE difference and Paula is independent enough to make a strong and necessary stand against the Republican tyranny Arizona that has been locked in at the legislature for the last two decades. Paula is running as a traditionally funded candidate and needs your support.
Anyway, other highlights include that during audience Q & A, the issue of private prisons came up and Kavanagh had his standard rhetoric (private prisons save Arizona money) stuffed back in his face both by the audience (loud and clear) and in an unequivocal response from Bob Littlefield that Arizona should not be doing business with private prisons.
As gracious and easy to listen to as Jay Lawrence is, his main idea for restoring school funding is to consolidate school districts. Conceptually speaking, considering ONLY the matter of economies of scale, consolidation can make sense. But economies of scale are not even close to being the only consideration. Jay acknowledged that the idea has been considered and voted down by Arizona citizens before.
However, he thinks that if he's elected, he will be able to put schools districts on notice to come up with a plan for consolidation in 90 days and if they don't then the legislature will shove it down their throats. Now, he didn't use those words, but that was his meaning. Again, as nice a guy as he is, there's no mistaking where he stands politically. And it is NOT for the people having the say over what goes on either in the schools or at the legislature.
Because there are no Democratic candidates running for the House in LD23, I feel somewhat comfortable expressing my support for Bob Littlefield and Effie Carlson in the primary against Jay Lawrence and Michelle Ugenti. Ugenti has personal issues she's having to deal with and sort out, being in the middle of divorce litigation and having school age children. That and the fact that she's not highly respected even within her own caucus raise enough doubt about her that it's time for new blood, so to speak.
The other key issue that was communicated tonight, both by the two candidates and their opponents, is that John Kavanagh and Jay Lawrence represent INERTIA at the legislature. If they are elected, chances increase that nothing will improve as far as the tone of cooperation and public policy determination.
Carlson cited the social contract that is government and paying taxes to maintain civil society. I don't know enough about her to judge her sincerity or determination, but she understands important underlying principles necessary for someone to whom voters may decide to delegate their authority for lawmaking.
Littlefield has been on the Scottsdale City Council for three terms. Not everyone in Scottsdale loves him. Some people (I don't know who they are) have even put up political signs claiming the Littlefield is bad for Scottsdale. Bob, however, seems completely unfazed by things like that. He has a strong vision of being a pragmatic elected official and not being run by narrow, parochial, special interests... like the Tea Party.
During the forum, I received an email message with news that state Sen. Chester Crandell (R-LD6) died earlier in the day. It's tragic news for his family and for people who worked with him at the Capitol. He was respected as a gentleman by colleagues from both sides of the aisle.
However, coming as it did this close to the primary election, with early ballots already having been mailed out, Crandell's passing complicates matters. The Republican Party would name a replacement for the primary election if there was time to correct ballots, but there isn't. Watch for more news about the situation to get the technical specifics. He was running unopposed in the Republican primary and there is no Democratic Party candidate for that seat.
Former Republican state Sen. Tom O'Halleran is running as an independent and will be on the November ballot for the LD6 Senate seat. O'Halleran had a reputation, when he served in the legislature, of not necessarily toeing the party line. Crandell's passing has to increase O'Halleran's chances, but it's still not going to be easy for him because there will be an as yet undetermined Republican on the general election ballot.