Endorsements are becoming a thing of the past as more and more Editorial Boards decide they are too divisive, too condescending, too likely to upset half of the readership.
The Arizona Daily Star’s Editorial Board talked about all those things this year, but ultimately decided not to follow the crowd. We believe that our Tucson community is strong enough to have lively discussions about candidates and issues. We know that Tucsonans can agree, and disagree, and remain connected to each other and work together.
The Arizona Daily Star’s Editorial Board is comprised of President and Publisher John D’Orlando, our top newsroom leader Editor Jill Jorden Spitz, Opinion editor Sarah Garrecht Gassen and Opinion writer and producer Edward Celaya. Cartoonist and columnist David Fitzsimmons is part of the Opinion team, but is not part of the Editorial Board.
The Editorial Board and the Star’s news reporters and editors operate independently of each other.
We’ve held 25 candidate interviews since early September via Zoom, and many Star readers joined the conversations. You can find the recordings of those candidate chats here.
The Editorial Board discusses each candidate in each race, and comes to an agreement on who we think will do the job best. We research the candidates’ experience, track records, ideas. We do not pay attention to political party; over the years we have endorsed candidates across the political spectrum.
We share our endorsements because readers tell us they find them valuable, whether they are used to decide whom to vote for, or against. We take our public service mission to heart.
Let’s get this conversation going.
2020 Star Opinion: 'Yes' on Prop. 208 'Invest in Ed'
The following is the opinion and analysis of the Arizona Daily Star’s Editorial Board.
As you think about Prop. 208, known as “Invest in Ed,” ask yourself these financial questions:
Would you become a public school teacher in Arizona today? Would you pursue a career in education, taking on debt for a university degree and state certification, knowing that Arizona public school teachers are paid 31.8% less than their comparable college-educated peers?
Is an Arizona child worth less than a child living in another state? Is your child’s education worth less?
Of course not, we say. But basic economics tells us that what we pay for, we value — and what we value, we’re willing to pay for.
Prop. 208 answers both ends of the equation, increasing the pay for teachers and other classroom-connected educators while limiting the financial cost to those who make $250,000 in taxable income for individual, or $500,000 per couple.
The Arizona Daily Star’s Editorial Board endorses Prop. 208.
Prop. 208 would create a 3.5% income tax surcharge on those Arizona taxpayers — note that benchmark is for taxable income, what’s left after tax deductions have been taken. About 90,000 Arizonans make enough to qualify for the surcharge.
And then, Arizonans making between $250,000 to $499,999 in taxable income would pay an average of $120 more per year. Opponents of Prop. 208 contend the surcharge will push the wealthy out of Arizona, a dubious argument when most of the people affected would pay a mere $10 more per month.
Those making from $1 million to $5 million in taxable income would pay an average $40,287 more per year — which, coincidentally, is almost the same figure as the beginning teacher salary in the Tucson Unified School District.
Research shows, and we can recall from our own school experience or our child’s experience, that having an excellent teacher makes a tremendous difference — and that excellence has monetary value. And the potential that some of the teachers who would receive a pay raise are ineffective or bad at their jobs doesn’t overcome the upside of passing Prop. 208.
What’s more, Prop. 208 would help solve Arizona’s chronic teacher shortage. Hundreds of classrooms are headed up by people without a teaching certificate as schools scramble to find qualified teachers to hire. It makes sense to do what we can to make teaching a more attractive and sustainable profession.
The Joint Legislative Budget Committee predicts Prop. 208 could generate $827 million to be used in the following ways:
- 50% for hiring and raises for teachers and classroom support personnel.
25% for hiring and raises for student support services personnel.
- 10% for new teacher retention programs.
- 12% to the Career Training and Workforce Fund, also newly-established by the proposition.
- 3% to expand the Arizona Teacher’s Academy, which provides tuition and fee waivers for higher education students who commit to teaching in Arizona public schools after graduation.
We can’t keep expecting teachers and other educators, like school counselors, librarians and aides, to take a financial hit to teach our children.
When you are filling out your ballot, take a few moments to remember a favorite teacher and the impact that person had in your life. And then vote ‘Yes’ on Prop. 208.
2020 Star Opinion: 'Yes' on Prop. 481 for PCC
The following is the opinion and analysis of the Arizona Daily Star’s Editorial Board.
Pima Community College is asking voters to update the amount of money it can spend on students. The answer should be “Yes.”
Prop. 481 doesn’t ask voters for more dollars, but it asks for approval to increase what is known as the “base expenditure limit,” which sets the maximum amount of tax revenues PCC is allowed to spend on operations.
Prop. 481 would increase PCC’s base expenditure limit from roughly $19 million to about $30 million, which is in line with other community college districts in Arizona.
In simple terms, PCC already has the money but it needs Prop. 481 passed so it can be spent.
PCC’s base expenditure limit hasn’t been increased since it was set in fiscal year 1979-80. For perspective, that’s back when “Dallas,” “Dukes of Hazzard” and “M*A*S*H” were in the television Top 10.
The Arizona Daily Star’s Editorial Board supports Prop. 481.
Star Opinion: Prop. 207 would change Arizona forever. Vote 'yes'
The following column is the opinion of the Arizona Daily Star Editorial Board.
America has always had a complicated relationship with marijuana. Legally, the consequences for use and possession have been harsh, with severity of sentence varying on jurisdiction and state.
Cities and other small localities have occasionally decriminalized small amounts or enacted policies of benign neglect toward marijuana users. But nationally, federal prohibition has reigned supreme for decades.
The results have been disastrous, especially for people of color and poor communities. Here in Arizona, a Black person is three times as likely as a white person to be arrested for marijuana possession, according to the ACLU.
Arizonans can take change into their own hands and join six other Western states and 11 nationally by rejecting prohibition and its accompanying burdens. While a 2016 voter initiative failed, Proposition 207 is better, both policywise and for potential consumers.
Prop. 207 would make it legal for adults 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, with added guidelines for quantities of marijuana concentrates and derivatives, like brownies or syrups. Additionally, adults could also grow up to six plants in their home, with a max of 12 plants for a residence containing two or more persons.
If passed, Prop. 207 would direct the Arizona Department of Health Services to set rules and be the regulatory agency responsible for retail marijuana sales. Those rules would be in place for a mandated June 1, 2021, retail date. All marijuana products would be subject to applicable city and state taxes, as well as a 16% excise tax.
According to a fiscal analysis by the Arizona Legislature, the tax, along with licensing and fees, is expected to raise $166 million once the program is fully established in the next few years.
That money would go first to helping pay and fund the state agencies and contract personnel needed to make this new law work.
Then, anything left over for the excise tax and licensing fees would go to set up a fund, called the Smart and Safe Arizona Fund, which would be distributed like this: 33% to community college districts, 31.4% to local police and fire departments and 25.4 % to the Highway User Revenue Fund.
The remaining monies would be split among the state attorney general or local jurisdictions to help enforce the initiative, and a new “Justice Reinvestment Fund” administered by AZDHS and local health departments.
Perhaps the biggest impact of Prop. 207 would come in how marijuana offenses are handled. The initiative establishes that anyone of legal age found to possess between 1 and 2.5 ounces of marijuana would be charged with a misdemeanor felony offense instead of a felony. There are also additional enforcement provisions for minors.
Most importantly, the proposition opens a potential pathway to hope for those charged in the past for certain marijuana-related offenses by allowing a petition of expungement of their criminal records.
For Arizonans concerned about the prevalence of marijuana on the streets and in schools, a study out of Washington from the publication Preventative Medicine found that usage rate of younger teens in the state actually decreased, while the rate for older teens stayed nearly the same.
Prop. 207 also takes a preemptive approach to the concern, prohibiting the sale of common candy and gummy edibles that look like children’s vitamins or gummy bears.
Employers can also continue to insist on keeping their workplaces drug free by requiring drug tests as a barrier for employment, and Prop. 207 does not allow for use of marijuana in public spaces or as an excuse for beating a DUI. In other words, a yes vote won’t portend the fall of civilization.
Opponents of 207 say normalizing marijuana sends a terrible message to young people, ignores the damage the drug can do to developing brains and won’t be the tax revenue bonanza promised.
There are also concerns about the influence of industry insiders — the group leading the campaign for Prop. 207, Smart and Safe Arizona, is comprised of individuals connected to medical marijuana dispensaries already operating in the state — and the fact that enacted initiatives are nearly impossible to change legislatively.
These concerns do not outweigh the already stated positives, or the possible second order effects: Law enforcement, free of having to spend time policing small time, low-level marijuana crime, can focus on more pressing issues.
The Arizona Daily Star suggests Southern Arizonans vote “yes” on Prop. 207.
2020 Star Opinion: Biden for President
President: Donald J. Trump (R) vs. Joseph R. Biden (D)
Joseph R. Biden is, without a sliver of doubt, the best choice for President in this election.
As an Editorial Board we seek to find shared ground with candidates, to find in their actions or positions points with which we may disagree, but can understand. We know that people can in good faith share an ultimate goal but not agree on how to meet it. That is good governance.
We value thoughtfulness, strategic and clear thinking, common good instead of personal profit, empathy, wisdom, patience and a spirit of public service moved by belief in and adherence to the promise of the United States and our Constitution.
We have tried to find any evidence of these basic values in our current president. Again and again, we have found Donald J. Trump wanting. We could use a thesaurus full of synonyms for unfit, unfettered and unqualified to describe Trump’s actions while in office but we know that would not affect his hardcore supporters’ devotion.
The way to stop the damage Trump’s administration has wrought on our economy for working people, public health, the environment, public safety, education system and our credibility as a nation is to elect a responsible, respected and respectable president in Biden.
People sometimes knock Biden for being boring. In presidential terms boring translates to steady, experienced and working diligently for all Americans. We’ll take boring over Trump’s unchecked bravado any day.
A second Trump term is not inevitable. Biden’s lengthy career, the personal sacrifices and family tragedies he has endured with compassion for others, his efforts to improve Americans’ lives in concrete ways are all hallmarks of a leader who connects with the people for whom he’s working. Biden gets it.
Our hope is that Biden will prove to be the moderate centrist President that his record in Congress has been, rather than being pulled to the left of his party. He is a collaborative leader who we anticipate will surround himself with smart, qualified and strong advisers, as he has done with his choice of Kamala Harris for vice president.
There is no more obvious or urgent choice facing our nation than who will occupy the White House for the next four years.
Biden has described this election as a fight for the soul of our nation, and we agree — and we believe the United States as a country and Americans as individuals will be in far, far better hands with Joseph R. Biden than the alternative.
The Arizona Daily Star Editorial Board endorses Joseph R. Biden for president.
2020 Star Opinion: Mark Kelly for U.S. Senate
SENATE: Martha McSally (R) vs. Mark Kelly (D)
Mark Kelly is the best choice to serve Arizona in this election, which will decide who completes the remainder of the late John McCain’s Senate term thru 2022.
Martha McSally is running for election to the seat she was appointed to in 2018 after McCain’s death. Her decision to ally closely with President Trump hurt her in 2018 when she ran for Senate and lost, and her continued embrace of Trump doesn’t fit in a state more inclined toward independent thinkers.
Kelly understands two crucial issues from a gut-level perspective as the husband of Gabby Giffords, who survived being shot in 2011 and lives with the effects of a traumatic brain injury.
Kelly knows the stakes of having affordable, accessible medical care and knows what a firearm can do to the human body. He is a gun owner — he owns nine, he told the Star’s Editorial Board — who supports universal background checks and the Second Amendment, just like many Arizonans do.
McSally’s refrain that she wants to eliminate the Affordable Care Act but will make sure people with pre-existing health conditions can still get health insurance tells only half the story. The legislation she supports, the Protect Act, states insurance providers can’t exclude people with pre-existing conditions, which sounds good but doesn’t mean anything if the policies are too expensive to afford. Under the ACA, people with pre-existing conditions can’t be charged more than anyone else or declined coverage —and there are subsidies to help cover costs.
The fine print matters.
McSally is the slicker politician, sticking to her rehearsed talking points and refusing to answer specific questions with specific, on-point answers about current events. Campaigns might chalk that up as a win for “staying on message” in an interview, but from what we heard from Tucsonans who participated in our recent Editorial Board interview via Zoom, voters find it frustrating — and we agree.
Republicans ding Kelly for not having clarified his position on the filibuster, which, at this point is a hypothetical question about a possible situation down the road if Democrats gain a majority in the Senate.
Kelly and McSally each have an impressive history of service to our country. Both were fighter pilots in combat, and both describe their military background as a motivation to continue serving their country in elected office. Both describe themselves as bipartisan.
But within these similarities we find a difference:
McSally describes herself as being a fighter her whole life, a fighter now “deployed” to Congress, with Washington, D.C. as her “new battlefield.”
Kelly declines such comparisons. “I don’t look at it like that, not in the slightest. We are all on the same team as Americans. … I would never think of going to Washington in comparison to when I was a combat veteran. It’s a totally different thing. We’re all on the same team. We’re trying to solve some hard problems. You’ve got to do it together. I don’t think any one party, Democrat or Republican can figure all this stuff out.”
The Arizona Daily Star Editorial Board endorses Mark Kelly for U.S. Senate.
2020 Star Opinion: Congress Districts 1, 2, 3
Congressional District 1: Tom O’Halleran (D) vs. Tiffany Shedd (R)
Tom O’Halleran is the best choice for Congressional District 1, which stretches from northern Pima County to the Arizona-Utah border. It’s a mix of smaller towns, suburbs and rural areas and O’Halleran is running for a third term. O’Halleran is the epitome of bipartisan — he served in the state Legislature as a centrist Republican and in Congress as a centrist Democrat. The political parties’ platforms changed over the years but O’Halleran remained constant in his dedication to working for children and seniors, good jobs and a growing economy.
Congressional District 2: Ann Kirkpatrick (D) vs. Brandon Martin (R)
Ann Kirkpatrick is the best choice to represent Congressional District 2, which encompasses much of Tucson and southeastern Arizona to the borders with Mexico and New Mexico.
Kirkpatrick faces Brandon Martin, a Republican whose stated priorities include, among mainstay issues like veterans and constituent services, abolishing the 16 (federal income tax) and 17 (taking away citizens’ ability to vote for Senators directly) Amendments; and ending “social engineering” and all funding for “transgender programs” in the military.
Kirkpatrick reflects the political diversity of CD 2 — a mix of Democrats, Republicans and large number of registered Independents. She sits on the Agriculture and Appropriations House committees and supports the Affordable Care Act, much-needed COVID-19 financial assistance, Indigenous issues and voting rights.
Congressional District 3: Raúl Grijalva (D) vs. Daniel Wood (R)
Raúl Grijalva is the best choice for Congressional District 3, which runs from Tucson to Yuma along the U.S.—Mexico border and north to the Phoenix area.
Grijalva has chaired the House Natural Resources Committee since 2016 and is a leader on conservation, public lands and environmental issues. He’s also on the Education and Labor Committee and has long fought for high-quality and attainable education from pre-K through college.
He’s held educator roundtables on Zoom to find out what Arizona schools need during the COVID-19 pandemic, seeking information from the grass roots to better understand a challenge facing families and educators. Grijalva embodies the doggedness needed to be effective in Congress, especially during the years Democrats have been the minority party.
2020 Star Opinion: Arizona State Legislature
STATE LEGISLATIVE RACES: State Senator: Choose 1 and State Representative: Choose 2
Legislative District 2
Senate: Rosanna Gabaldon (D) vs. Mark Workman (R)
House: Andrea Dalessandro (D), Daniel Hernandez Jr. (D), Deborah McEwen (R)
This district encompasses parts of southern Tucson, Sahuarita, Green Valley, Rio Rico, Arivaca, the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge to the west and south to the U.S. border with Mexico.
House incumbent Rosanna Gabaldon is running for the Arizona Senate, and Senate incumbent Andrea Dalessandro is running for House. Both should be retained at the Legislature. We also endorse Daniel Hernandez Jr. in his bid for re-election to the state House.
The upcoming Legislative session will be difficult, given the economic, public health, educational and social challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. In such a varied district — which includes urban, rural, suburban, retirement communities and small towns — we believe that the incumbents’ hands-on knowledge of the region’s diverse and specific needs, and the nuts-and-bolts legislative process, will benefit LD2 residents.
Legislative District 9
Senate: Victoria Steele (D) running unopposed
House: Randall “Randy” Friese (D), Pamela Powers Hannley (D), Brendan Lyons (R)
This district encompasses the Catalina Foothills and the northwest neighborhoods of Casa Adobes, west to Interstate 10 and north toward Marana.
For the two House seats, the Arizona Daily Star Editorial Board endorses Randall “Randy” Friese and Pamela Powers Hannley. Both are incumbents with extensive backgrounds in public health, science and medicine — expertise definitely needed in the Arizona Legislature.
Political newcomer Brendan Lyons, also running for the state House, has a bright future in public service, and we hope he continues. Originally a firefighter, he has turned his experience surviving a life-changing vehicle crash caused by a distracted driver into a community safety mission.
Legislative District 10
Senate: Kirsten Engel (D) vs. Justine Wadsack (R)
House: Domingo DeGrazia (D), Stephanie Stahl Hamilton (D), Mabelle Gummere (R), Michael Hicks (R)
This district encompasses the central and east side portions of the metro Tucson area, stretches north to the Catalina mountains and southeast to Valencia Road.
Kirsten Engel has served in the Arizona House and is now running for the state Senate against challenger Justine Wadsack (R). Our endorsement is for Engel, in part for her experience with environmental law.
In the House race, we endorse incumbent Domingo DeGrazia and newcomer Stephanie Stahl Hamilton. Her advocacy for public education, fueled by involvement her children’s school site council and PTO, is needed at the Legislature.
Legislative District 11
Senate: JoAnna Mendoza (D) vs. Vince Leach (R)
House: Felipe R. Perez (D), Bret Roberts (R), Mark Finchem (R)
This district encompasses northern Pima County, some of Oro Valley along with Picture Rocks, Marana, Casa Grande and Maricopa.
We endorse JoAnna Mendoza for Senate against incumbent Vince Leach (R). For the Arizona House, we endorse Felipe R. Perez and incumbent Bret Roberts.
2020 Star Opinion: Pima County Sheriff
Chris Nanos (D) vs. Mark Napier (R)
In an often contentious and combative contest, the Arizona Daily Star endorses Sheriff Mark Napier to continue in the role of Pima County Sheriff.
While his opponent, former Sheriff Chris Nanos, is just as experienced, Napier sets himself apart with his demeanor and understanding of the issues facing both the department and the profession.
Although the administration of the law knows no party, the office of sheriff is partisan in Arizona. However, even running as the Republican candidate, Napier is the more progressive — and better — candidate.
Napier’s plan for securing funding for body cameras for officers, is both more nuanced than Nanos’ “day one” priority that he puts on the devices, and more realistic.
The incoming sheriff will have to work with an incoming, and totally new, county attorney to secure the federal grants and other monies needed to pay for the program, all things Napier acknowledged in our Editorial Board candidate discussion.
Policing, both as a singular calling and as a profession, has under a new level of scrutiny in America.
National movements like Black Lives Matter and smaller, local activist groups, have raised questions about funding, policing tactics and county priorities.
At the county level going forward, the sheriff’s office requires leadership that will display a steady hand of enforcement when needed, but also exhibit the willingness to listen, deescalate and even yield if the situation calls for it.
It will mean recognizing hard truths.
During our endorsement discussion, Napier did just that when acknowledged that the nation’s founding documents fell precipitously short on race.
“From the founding of this country, we have degraded Black lives,” he said. “In fact, our very founding documents were founded on and ignored the issue of slavery,” he continued, before mentioning the Three-Fifths Compromise and other historic indignities suffered by people of color.
Napier also said that the violence and rioting only serves to detract from the righteous argument BLM and many of their supporters make.
The answer stood in stark contrast to Nanos, who gave a rambling response that bordered on incoherent and included him saying that Blacks wanted to be treated the same as “whites, browns and yellows” before he clarified that he was just “throwing out colors.”
For all of Napier’s superlatives, there are issues that must be addressed: chronic low moral within the department, an all-too-packed jail system and funding for additional personnel and resources all need to be addressed, before they risk compounding upon each other.
2020 Star Opinion: Pima County Recorder
Gabriella Cázares-Kelly (D) vs. Benny White (R)
In the race to replace the retiring F. Ann Rodriguez, the Arizona Daily Star endorses Gabriella Cázares-Kelly to be Pima County’s next county recorder.
During normal times, the recorder’s office would be a nearly invisible force, but pressures from outside the county have suddenly turned the race for who is ultimately in charge of counting votes into a prime-time election. And Cázares-Kelly is ready for her close-up.
Although she has no experience within the office, Cázares-Kelly brings new ideas and energy to an already professionally staffed office. That solid staff will allow for Cázares-Kelly to better implement her campaign platform of reaching out to underserved and underrepresented communities.
With the future of voting and voter enfranchisement likely forever changed by the pandemic and the social unrest of this summer, Cázares-Kelly’s plan to include more voices isn’t just welcome, it’s part of the remedy for a divided nation.
Of course, Cázares-Kelly, who would be the first Tohono O’odham woman to hold county-wide office in Pima County, isn’t perfect. She’ll need to guard against advocating too much for any specific community.
But in a race between Cázares-Kelly and Benny White, a candidate who is not convinced some minority communities face higher barriers to vote, the choice is clear.
2020 Star Opinion: Pima County Assessor
Suzanne Droubie (D) vs. Jo Ann Sabbagh (R)
The good news: The candidates agree that, while Arizona makes County Assessor a partisan race, the Assessor’s Office duties shouldn’t be partisan. The Assessor determines tax levies on property and determines which properties should be exempt from taxes.
The bad news: Voters have to choose one person.
Both candidates have financial backgrounds: Droubie as a property appraiser, property tax agent and with experience in the current Assessor’s office. Sabbagh is a CPA and Enrolled Agent with the IRS who runs her own tax and accounting business.
We endorse Suzanne Droubie for Pima County Assessor. Her specific experience with appraisals, work as a real estate agent and representing property owners makes her the more qualified for this particular elected position.
2020 Star Opinion: Pima County Board of Supervisors
District 1: Rex Scott (D) vs. Steve Spain (R)
Rex Scott is the best choice to represent this northwest Pima County district that includes Marana and Oro Valley. Scott is a rational, reasonable centrist with a career of public service as a teacher and school principal — positions that require a cool head, smart ideas and the ability to problem solve amid competing interests.
Steve Spain, backed by retiring supervisor Ally Miller (R), has shown himself to be a science-denying flame-thrower whose ill-conceived positions and reliance on public personal attacks make him unsuitable to effectively represent a district that is ideologically, demographically and economically diverse.
Scott has demonstrated independence in his positions, a focus on District #1 in his priorities — including his plans on fighting COVID-19 — and his steady leadership is the right fit for a Pima County Supervisor.
District 2: Matt Heinz (D) vs. Anthony Sizer (R)
In the race for Pima County Supervisor, District 2, the Arizona Daily Star endorses former Arizona Representative and Congressional candidate Matt Heinz.
Seemingly always active on the Democratic side of the ballot this time of year, Heinz is in the position to represent the diverse district that stretches from Sahuarita to South Tucson after challenging and defeating incumbent supervisor, Ramon Valadez.
Heinz has smartly chosen to make his campaign focus the same as his everyday job: health. As a hospital physician at Tucson Medical Center, and as someone who has helped treat COVID-positive patients, Heinz offers a unique insight and perspective on an issue the county will face into the foreseeable future.
When it comes to the nitty-gritty of policy making, Heinz’ background in the state legislature will help him with the horse-trading and deal making that comes along with getting things done at the county level.
Ultimately, in perhaps the most uncertain time facing the county in recent memory, Heinz’ background in medicine, coupled with his prior legislative experience, makes him one of the most qualified supervisor candidates on the ballot.
District #3: Sharon Bronson (D) vs. Gabby Saucedo Mercer (R)
Sharon Bronson is the best choice to represent this vast district, which includes the Flowing Wells area of Tucson, small communities like Picture Rocks, Arivaca and Ajo, the Tohono O’Odham Nation, the U.S.—Mexico border and vast natural areas. Bronson is deservedly best known for her work on the County’s Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan and in on a board with at least three new Supervisors, her institutional knowledge will be essential.
District #4: Steve Diamond (D) vs. Steve Christy (R)
Steve Diamond is the better choice to represent this large district that includes the county’s east side, including Coronado National Forest and Saguaro National Park East, and southeast to the U.S.—Mexico border.
We value Steve Christy’s business perspective on the Board, but we find two of his positions so extreme as to be disqualifying: “Is climate change the fault of man? No, I don’t believe so. I don’t believe man has the capacity to affect Mother Nature in that regard;” and putting political philosophy over public health: “A mask mandate does not coincide with our ability to make our own decisions.”
Steve Diamond strikes us as a common-sense candidate who supports sustainability and science, but is mindful of businesses’ contributions and won’t be a rubber stamp for the Pima County administration.
District #5: Adelita Grijalva (D) vs. Fernando Gonzales (R)
Adelita Grijalva is the best choice for this district that encompasses Tucson’s west side, part of Saguaro National Park West and most of the Pascua Yaqui Nation.
Grijalva is a known quantity from her years on the Tucson Unified School District Governing Board, and her experience on that fractious board and dealing with strapped budgets, state mandates and an engaged public prepares her the broader Pima County Supervisor role.
Grijalva listens to constituents and centers her problem-solving perspective on those without institutional power, a needed and useful point of view especially when making decisions that affect more than 1 million people.
2020 Star Opinion: Arizona Corporation Commission
Bill Mundell (D), Shea Stanfield (D), Anna Tovar (D), Lea Márquez Peterson (R), James O’Connor (R), Eric Sloan (R)
The Arizona Corporation Commission, the five-member commission tasked with regulating the states’ utilities, setting rates and green energy guidelines, has three seats up for grabs this election cycle. Of the eight candidates running (three Democrats, three Republicans, two write-in candidates) the Arizona Daily Star is endorsing Democrats Shea Stanfield and Bill Mundell, along with incumbent Republican Lea Márquez Peterson.
Unlike most states, where the governor appoints utility commissioners, Arizona holds an open election, in the hopes of avoiding an industry-friendly regulatory committee. Unfortunately, that has still happened in the recent past, with scandals plaguing the commission.
Like county positions such as assessor, sheriff, recorder and treasurer, corporation commissioners should be as non-partisan as possible. All three of the candidates who have earned our endorsement hold that same commitment.
Márquez Peterson, the only incumbent running this year, not only has the past experience needed to help distinguish herself from the crowd, she also knows the committee’s reputation and has taken steps to combat it: She passed a new code of ethics as one of her first actions after being appointed to the board by Gov. Doug Ducey.
Stanfield, a former teacher and member of the Cave Creek Town Council, comes from an environmental preservation background. In a time where consideration to conservation and green practices is not just smart business but good for the environment, hers will be a needed voice.
Mundell, a savvy political veteran who served on the commission previously in the early 2000s, brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the table. His campaign focus, to make Arizona carbon neutral by 2050, is the sort of long-term policy making the state needs to help manage increased growth.
And make no mistake, Arizona is growing. In order to avoid the pitfalls so often cited by longtime locals and newly located transplants from Los Angeles, the Bay Area and other crowded locales, smart utility oversight and regulation will be needed going forward.
2020 Star Opinion: Pima County Treasurer
Beth Ford (R) vs. Brian Bickel (D)
Beth Ford is running for her sixth term as Pima County Treasurer and should retain the office. She has been a steady hand in a position that we think requires not only managerial skills but detailed public sector financial knowledge. Ford is a CPA and has 20 years experience in the office, which, in this kind of operational office — collecting tax payments and disbursing funds — is valuable.
Brian Bickel has some good ideas to improve customer service, but we don’t think that’s weighty enough to forgo Beth Ford’s accumulated expertise.
2020 Star Opinion: TUSD Governing Board
Sadie Shaw, Dr. Ravi Grivois-Shah, Nick Pierson, Cindy Winston, Adam Ragan, Natalie Luna Rose (non-partisan election)
The Arizona Daily Star endorses Adam Ragan, Dr. Ravi Grivois-Shah and Natalie Luna Rose to be the next Tucson Unified School District Governing Board members.
With no incumbent members running in this year’s election, new faces abound. All three candidates endorsed by the Star from the six-person field on the ballot would be first-time TUSD Board members, a trait shared by all the candidates.
However, all three bring a wealth of life experience and unique insight to the position that will be sorely needed on a board known for infighting and intransigence and that will be facing a pandemic and all of the ancillary issues that arise from it.
Ragan, a current ninth grade teacher, has been active in district, local and county politics for some time, and would fulfill the need for having an active educator on the board who knows how to lobby.
Grivois-Shah, in addition to being the medical director at Alvernon Family Medicine, is a TUSD parent and active local PTA member at one of his children’s schools. He brings medical expertise to a council that may need help parsing out the logistics and outcomes of policies both now and post-COVID.
Luna Rose, the current communications manager for the Arizona Center for Disability Law and a TUSD parent, will be an advocate for a community that is often left out of the decision-making process.
Together, these new additions to a board that had become staid and devoid of new ideas should help reinvigorate a district that always seems to find itself a step behind.
2020 Star Opinion: Pima Community College Board
Catherine “Cat” Ripley (D) vs. Ethan Orr (R)
The Arizona Daily Star endorses Catherine “Cat” Ripley to replace the retiring Mark Hanna as the representative for District 1 on the Pima Community College Governing Board.
The race pits the two candidates who most understand what the position they are running for is and why they want to fill it. Both the veteran Ripley and former state legislator Ethan Orr exhibit a genuine love for the college punctuated by different understandings of how to make it more inclusive to all Pima County residents.
Although Orr boasts more time spent in a legislative body and has served the Southern Arizona community for years, Ripley is used to being somewhere new and adapting quickly: She was one of the first women to be admitted and graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy.
Additionally, she held the position of assistant professor at some of the country’s most prestigious universities and is currently an adjunct professor at PCC in political science.
On top of an impressive résumé, Ripley promises a more community-inclusive plan to keep PCC competitive in a new era complicated by new, for-profit online universities and COVID-19.
“To recover economically after the pandemic, it’s going to take the city, the local population, the electricians, the plumbers, the welders, the nurses, the EMTs and auto-mechanics — it’s basically our work force — is going to need to be trained to be ready to go, ready to work,” she said during our candidate discussion.
It will be important that Ripley grow quickly in the job: a continued pandemic and looming financial and economic issues won’t wait. Considering her background and ability, that shouldn’t be an issue.
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