The political aspirations of all three current members of state Legislative District 11 have led to three empty seats, with four Republicans and two Democrats battling to fill them.

LD 11 Rep. Steve Smith is looking to fill the seat left by the current LD11 Senator Al Melvin. Melvin is one of seven candidates vying to be the state’s next governor. 

Smith will face a primary fight against Scott Bartle, a governing board member in the Maricopa Unified School District. The winner of the August 26 primary will face retired scientist Jo Holt, a Democrat, in November. 

With Smith running for a seat in the Senate and fellow LD11 Adam Kwaman running to replace Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick in U.S. Congressional District 1, there are three Republicans and a Democrat running for the seats. 

Realtor Mark Finchem, small business owner Vince Leach and a former legislative coordinator for the Arizona legislature, Jo Grant — all Republicans — will square off in the August primary with the two with the most votes facing off against retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Holly Lyon, a Democrat, in the general election. 


Scott Bartle



Age: 42

Employer and position: Publisher,; President, Outside the Box Marketing

Education: Bachelor’s, Indiana University

Political experience: Governing Board Member, Maricopa Unified School District

Top priorities: Jobs/economy

Steve Smith



Age: 37

Employer and Position: State Senator and Director of Phoenix-based Talent Agency

Education: Bachelor’s degree in marketing and cognate in business law, Michigan State University

Political Experience: Current State Representative, LD11

Top priorities: Securing the border, providing a friendly business climate

Jo Holt

Party: Democrat

Age: 61

Employer and position: Retired scientist

Education: Bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Texas A&M University, Ph.D. in biochemistry from Colorado State University

Political experience: Ran for state Senate in 2012; precinct committee person; past chair of LD11 Democratic committee

Top priorities: Funding for public education for locally controlled neighborhood schools; public education supports local businesses

House of Representatives

Mark Finchem



Age: 57

Employer and position: Realtor, Long Realty

Education: Associate’s degree in Criminal Justice, Kalamazoo Valley Community College in Michigan

Political experience: Never held elected office

Top priorities: Education reform

Jo Grant



Age: 62

Employer and position: Retired. Former legislative coordinator for the southern Arizona office of the Arizona State Senate and House of Representatives.

Education: Graduate, Mesa High School

Political experience: Governing board member, Amphitheater School District

Top priorities: Education and economic development/jobs

Vince Leach



Age: 65

Employer and position: Owner, Diversified Options LLC

Education: Bachelor’s degree in political science/history from the University of Wisconsin

Political experience: Never held elected office

Top priorities: Jobs

Holly Lyon

Party: Democrat

Age: 57

Employer and position: Retired, USAF Colonel

Education: Bachelors of Arts, College of Idaho; Masters of Arts, Webster University; Masters in Strategic Studies, Air War College/Air University

Political experience: Never held elected office, chair of the SaddleBrooke Democratic Club

Top priorities: Infrastructure, including public education

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at or 573-4346.


Reporter with the Arizona Daily Star. I cover politics as well as the city of Tucson and other municipalities in Southern Arizona.