Read my answers to The Arizona Republic | azcentral.com voter guide.
Why are you the best person for the job? As an independent, I will take positions that may not fit either party's ideological framework, but make sense for Arizona. I will be a catalyst for legislation that puts problem-solving ahead of partisan and special interests. I will seek solutions that are informed by data as well as traditions.
The greatest threat to Arizona’s future is a government controlled by only two parties and a campaign finance system that is not transparent, allowing partisan and special interests to act without oversight. Electing independents who have a passion for good government and a fidelity to the common good is the first step to reclaiming government for the people.
Do you support the teacher pay-raise plan passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Doug Ducey? Why or why not? Without a party platform to guide me, I had a heart-to-heart with myself before beginning my campaign, which led to putting education at the top of my list, not only because I have three sons in public school, but because it is essential to representative democracy. At the top of my education list was a teacher pay increase of 20 percent. I advocated for a pay increase before the RedForEd movement began and before Gov. Ducey offered his plan. I am also calling for:
- Consolidating school districts
- Reducing the average class size
- Increasing teacher autonomy
- Increasing district funds spent in classrooms to 70 percent
- Controlled competition among educational institutions, not an unrestricted voucher system
I am eager to work with Gov. Ducey and the Legislature on education.
State funding for Arizona schools remains below pre-recession levels. How should the state address funding for its schools in next year’s budget? How would you pay for any increases? As an independent, without partisan and special interests to submit to, I would explore all funding options. I am partial to an excise tax where a win-win can be achieved by offering the industry an improved regulatory environment, which would reduce costs, in exchange for an excise tax that is not passed on to consumers – a win-win for the industry and consumers as well as providing a long-term funding source for education and other priorities.
Does Arizona do enough to require accountability and transparency for charter schools? The shutting down of charter schools that were not performing up to expectations has been part of the Legislatures activities and demonstrates that accountability and transparency are at work in the charter school arena – I commend the responsible legislators for making those decisions.
The charter school model is different than the public school model, and I would like to see it remain that way. It provides a needed challenge to an educational system that has become overly bureaucratic and at times appears to have lost its focus on providing a quality education to all students.
Good government is based on transparency and accountability, but I would not like to see unnecessary regulations put on charter schools. I will not, however, rule out changes in the future that would improve accountability and transparency of charter schools as well as public schools.
Would you support stricter gun laws, including raising the minimum age to 21 for all gun purchases, banning bump stocks and universal background checks on gun sales between private parties? I support smarter, more effective gun regulations that protect everyone, while not unduly burdening law-abiding gun owners. If elected I would welcome a review of our state gun laws with the aim to keep any gun – assault weapons, shotguns, or handguns – out of the hands of those who might use it to harm others.
As well, I would like to see gun owners held liable if their weapons are used to harm others. Storing weapons securely is part of responsible gun ownership – such legislation might have prevented the 10 deaths in the Santa Fe High School shooting in Texas by preventing a minor from having access to a shotgun and handgun that his father failed to store securely.
In particular, I would pursue expanding language under ARS 13-3102 – prohibited possessor – to include not only persons considered dangerous pursuant to a court order but persons who have demonstrated via police reports and other evidence a desire to harm others. This idea is included in Governor Ducey's Safe Arizona Schools Plan: Severe Threat Order of Protection (STOP). The Governor's plan includes other priorities that I agree with such as investing in mental and behavioral health resources at schools.
What should Arizona do to prevent mass shootings in schools? I would welcome an opportunity to explore this question in depth if elected. I am encouraged by Australia's 20 years of no mass shootings and would look to it as a starting point. I would include a look at Australia’s public school system in conjunction with a review of its gun regulations.
There is no simple answer to this serious social problem that has grown worse in the last 20 years. We need a comprehensive solution. Baby steps are fine at first, but we must set our sights on the goal of no mass shootings in our schools and not take our eyes off it.
As a legislator, would you be inclined to support additional tax cuts for individuals or businesses? If so, which taxes would you like to see reduced? I would not consider additional business and individual tax cuts at this time.
Should recreational marijuana use be legalized in Arizona? Why or why not? If consumed in a safe manner that does not impact the public, and if all transactions, financial and other, among industry participants, are legal and transparent, I would not work against a ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana. My wife and I do not approve of the recreational use of marijuana. We do support using marijuana for medical purposes.
Has Arizona taken the right approach by increasing restrictions on abortion providers and clinics? Why or why not? Improving the safety and oversight of abortion providers is a responsibility of government as it is with all medical procedures. Given the different motivations and circumstances that come into play when considering an abortion, especially for women in their teens, and the irreversible nature of abortion, it makes sense to require a short period of reflection on the decision and to ensure that race or sex is not a reason.
As an independent, I do not subscribe to the rhetoric that vilifies organizations and individuals for and against abortion. The real enemy is unwanted pregnancies, especially among teens and young adults.
If elected I will advocate to make adoption more transparent and accountable to all stakeholders and to reduce unwanted pregnancies through education and other proven strategies.
What should Arizona be doing to prepare for a possible water-shortage declaration on the Colorado River? The first thing the State Legislature can do is stop and then reverse the trend in groundwater basin depletion with sensible legislation that protects our environment without stifling growth and development. Independents, free of partisan and private interests, are best equipped to forge win-win solutions that safeguard groundwater levels while allowing for growth and development. I support actions to reduce and limit carbon emissions, which lead to a higher average mean temperature, which in turn makes our water-shortage worse. I support utility-scale renewable energy efforts and zero-energy design for commercial and residential buildings to minimize water usage. I am a LEED AP.
Would you support a statewide law that bans discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in public accommodations, such as restaurants and other businesses? Why or why not? I would like to see legislation that makes it illegal to fire someone from a job, deny them housing or refuse them service because they are LGBT. I commend Representative Hernandez and Senator Brophy McGee for introducing HB 2586. A U.S. citizen who is LGBT is entitled to all the rights and protections afforded under the U.S. Constitution.
Would you support a statewide law to allow business owners and others to deny services to customers based on religious beliefs? Why or why not? The First Amendment protects freedom of religion, and the Commerce Clause protects against discrimination in business. Making discrimination legal based on a person’s religious beliefs is antithetical to everything America stands for.
Concerning the economy, how can the Legislature best encourage sustainable growth that benefits people of all income levels? Arizona must continue to remain a stable and attractive place to invest, live, and start a business. The most important thing legislators can do now is to put into place a forward-looking, data-driven strategy for budgeting and legislation.
Opportunities and risks that seem small now will have a considerable impact, positively or negatively, a decade from now. Cultivating a forward-thinking community of public and private stakeholders is at the center of a sustainable vision of economic development that benefits everyone.
Access to quality public education as well as higher education and workforce training opportunities is also essential to developing a sustainable economy that can benefit Arizonans of all income levels who seek to make the most of themselves.
Do you support further expanding the Empowerment Scholarship Account program, which provides state funding for private-school education? I would like to see controlled competition among educational institutions, not an unrestricted voucher system, which will happen if Arizona keeps the Legislature's expansion of the state's school voucher-style program from 30,000 special needs students and students from poor-performing schools to all 1.1 million students. To be clear, I am against the expansion of Empowerment Scholarship Accounts to all 1.1 million Arizona students.
What is your position on Proposition 305, the ballot measure that would repeal the Legislature’s 2017 expansion of the voucher program? I would like to see controlled competition among educational institutions, not an unrestricted voucher system, which will happen if Arizona keeps the Legislature expansion of the state's school voucher-style program from 30,000 special needs students and students from poor-performing schools to all 1.1 million students. To be clear, I am against the expansion of Empowerment Scholarship Accounts to all 1.1 million Arizona students. I will be a "no" vote on Proposition 305 – I oppose upholding Senate Bill 1431, which was designed to phase in an expansion of the state's ESA program to make all public school students eligible to apply for an ESA.
What role should Arizona play in helping the federal government secure the border with Mexico? A secure border and an efficient immigration system are essential to public safety and are the responsibility of our federal government and federal agencies. State, county, and local law enforcement should cooperate with federal agents to prevent illegal immigration, humanely treat all who cross into Arizona illegally, and protect the lives and property of Arizona residents.
I would like to see Arizona work with the federal government and the Mexican government to address the refugee crisis south of Mexico.
Has the Legislature done enough to address concerns about sexual harassment among its membership? Sexual harassment is unacceptable. Ignoring the sexual harassment of a co-worker is also unacceptable. I believe the #MeToo movement has exposed a problem that has gone on far too long. The legislature can do more to educate men and women legislators to sexual harassment as well as to inappropriate remarks regarding another legislator's appearance.
Is there an issue not mentioned about that you feel hasn’t received enough attention at the Capitol? How would you address it? We have abdicated our responsibility as sovereigns of this nation to a two-party system that has not put the public interest first but instead has elevated partisan and special interests above the common good. Both parties have conspired to make it extremely difficult for average citizens to run for public office.
The difficulty for average citizens, unaffiliated with a party, to run for public office should be given more attention. Our most pressing issues, which become more intractable with each passing year, like education, healthcare, social security, and public safety, will not get resolved until we elect independents, ones who are committed to finding solutions that maximize the public interest with the least public expenditure. Ideology can be a starting point, not an ending point. Independents are free from loyalty to a party so they can be loyal to the public interest.
What is the greatest threat to Arizona’s future, and how would you address it? The most significant threat to representative democracy is a government controlled by only two parties and an opaque campaign finance system that allows partisan and special interests to act without oversight. Electing a few independents to our state legislature so that neither party has a majority, the fulcrum strategy, is the catalyst we need to start seeing legislation that puts the public interest first and is long lasting.