In Arizona, there are 30 legislative districts across the state. In every district, one senator and two representatives are elected, for a total of 90 members of the State Legislature. In only some districts are there competitive contests in the primary election, for which early voting begins Aug. 3. Primary Election Day is Aug. 30.
Three competitive state Senate primary races stand out in legislative districts important to Jewish News readers. Legislative Districts 18, 26 and 27 feature some surprises about the candidates.
In District 18 in south Tempe and Ahwatukee, incumbent state Sen. Jeff Dial, a Republican, is running against an Arizona Precinct Committeeman with an eyebrow-raising last name. But instead of trying to downplay his name, Frank Schmuck embraces it. His website address is teamschmuck.com. Democrat Sean Bowie is running unopposed in this district.
In District 26 in north Tempe and parts of Scottsdale, incumbent state Sen. Andrew Sherwood is not running for re-election. Instead, state Rep. Juan Mendez, a Democrat, is running in the primary against David Lucier. No Republicans are on the ballot in this overwhelmingly Democratic district.
In District 27, near South Mountain and at the edge of Ahwatukee, Democratic incumbent Catherine Miranda is being challenged in the primary by her stepdaughter, Maritza Miranda Saenz.
Sen. Jeff Dial’s priorities for District 18, according to jeffdial.org, are growing the state’s economy and creating jobs. Frank Schmuck’s priorities are creating a business-friendly environment through fewer taxes and government regulations and defending the Second Amendment.
Juan Mendez’s priorities in District 26 include bringing sanity and purpose back to the state budget “by recognizing that private success is dependent on public investment,” according to his website (mendezforaz.com). David Lucier’s priorities include improving economic and educational opportunities for veterans. Learn more at davidforaz26.com.
Catherine Miranda was married to well-known Democratic lawmaker and Latino community leader Ben Miranda, who died in November 2013. Catherine Miranda’s priorities (learn more at mirandaforarizona.com) for another term as the state senator from District 27 include supporting investment in state infrastructure for public transportation and roads and supporting legislation that would create jobs by eliminating unnecessary regulations and providing small businesses with tax incentives. That may not sound like a traditionally Democratic position to take with regard to job creation. She was criticized by her party for endorsing Doug Ducey for governor in 2014.
Her stepdaughter, Maritza Miranda Saenz, whose father was Ben Miranda, is running against her in the primary. Her priorities include supporting a community schools model, where public schools are a central part of the community and, in addition to academic services, provide youth, adult and community development, and health and social services; and finding ways to support small, local businesses. Learn more at maritza4az.nationbuilder.com.
In District 25 in Mesa, Republican Rusty Bowers is an incumbent running for re-election to the state House. According to bowersforaz.com, his priorities include ensuring long-term economic strength and establishing high academic standards for students.
Bowers is being challenged by Ross Groen and Michelle Udall. Groen is most concerned with protecting economic opportunity, individual rights and all human life. Find out more at ross4az.com. Udall’s priorities include setting high academic standards and creating a business-friendly environment in Arizona. (On Facebook, find her campaign page by searching for Michelle Udall.)
In District 26, Democratic incumbent Celeste Plumlee (celesteplumlee.com) is running for re-election. The other state representative in the district, Juan Mendez, is running for the State Senate from this district. Mendez and two Democratic House candidates from this district, Isela Blanc (iselablanc4az.com) and Athena Salman (salmanforhouse.com), are running as a slate for the Legislature.
Plumlee has been in office since December of last year. She was appointed to fill the vacancy created when Rep. Andrew Sherwood was tapped to fill the remainder of the State Senate term of Ed Ableser. Her priorities include ensuring that public support networks are available to all individuals and families in need and fighting for adequate funding for public education.
Blanc is most concerned with investing in programs and public education policies that help ensure access to excellent education and improving health and economic benefits for the state’s vulnerable populations. Salman’s priorities include improving the state’s educational system and upgrading Arizona’s aging infrastructure while expanding clean energy and technology jobs.
In District 27, four Democratic candidates, including incumbents Reginald Bolding (reginaldbolding.com) and Rebecca Rios (rebeccarios.com), are running for the State House. Edward Blackwell and Dave Braun (braunforaz.com) are the other two candidates. Bolding wants to increase educational opportunities in his district. Rios wants to focus on innovative policies to fund job training and targeted incentives to businesses to allow for job creation. Braun wants to increase the minimum wage to $10 an hour. Blackwell has no public contact information and his positions on issues were not available at press time.
In District 28, which includes North and Central Phoenix, parts of North Scottsdale and the Town of Paradise Valley, five Republicans are vying to replace Republican Rep. Kate Brophy McGee and Democrat Eric Meyer, both of whom are running unopposed in the primary for State Senate. The five candidates are: Kenneth Bowers (kenbowers2016.com); Mary Hamway (maryhamway.com); Matt Morales (morales4az.com); Alberto Gutier III and Maria Syms (symsforaz.com). Democrat Kelli Butler is running unopposed in the primary.
Bowers indicates on his website that his priorities include support for “expulsion of illegal aliens and drastic reduction of legal entries to those persons.” Hamway supports diversifying the economy by expanding new opportunities in bioscience and biotechnology, manufacturing and renewable energy, while continuing to support aerospace industries and military installations. Morales wants to minimize government regulations’ impact on small businesses. Gutier proposes reducing taxes to create a more commerce-friendly environment, downsizing government and eliminating unnecessary regulations to encourage business growth for Arizona. Syms supports business-friendly policies that “decrease burdensome regulations and taxes,” according to her website.