Voters in District 14 have four candidates to choose from for two open state House seats.
Of the four candidates — Mike Holmes, Drew John, Jason Lindstrom, and Becky Ann Nutt — only Holmes lives in the Tucson metro part of the district. About a quarter of voters in the large district live in Pima County.
The two House seats are open, with incumbent Republicans David Gowan and David Stevens stepping down.
John has raised about $34,300 for his campaign, including major donations from Arizona Cardinals President Michael Bidwill and Tucson auto dealer Jim Click. The other candidates are participating in the clean elections system, meaning they do not accept donations from special-interest groups.
Here’s where the candidates stand on a few key issues:
Republicans John and Nutt supported Proposition 123, the voter-approved measure meant to increase teacher pay and end a years-long legal dispute between schools and the state. Democrats Holmes and Lindstrom opposed it.
Holmes said the Legislature should stop shifting money away from education and focus on funding for teachers, buildings and buses. He opposes the expansion of the state’s school voucher programs and the Empowerment Scholarship Account program, saying those programs would hurt small and rural school districts.
John said Prop. 123 was not the ultimate answer to school funding, but lawmakers can get serious about finding solutions now that the courts and politics are out of it. He said legislators need to do more listening to outside ideas.
Lindstrom called Arizona’s low ranking among states in education spending “embarrassing.” He opposed Prop. 123 because he thought it unwise to spend the state land trust funds more quickly. He said the state should look for more efficiencies to shift funds to education.
Lindstrom also said he wants government to be more transparent, and to promote that he’d wear a camera on the job if elected.
Nutt said she supported Prop. 123 because education leaders supported it. On the campaign trail, she’s met with as many school superintendents as possible to learn about the different needs of different school districts. The Legislature should focus on updating the school-funding system to better meet districts’ needs, she said.
She supports shifting some federally controlled lands to state control, excluding park lands, to put more money in the land trust that helps fund education.
Holmes said Cochise County is losing population largely because of Defense Department cutbacks at Fort Huachuca, and the area needs to diversity its economy. He supports Sierra Vista’s plans to create a tech education hub.
Holmes and Lindstrom support plans to add an industrial port of entry in Douglas, like the one in Nogales, and an inland port in Willcox. More investment in infrastructure is needed to make it happen, Holmes said.
Holmes also supports a procurement preference for veteran-owned businesses in state contracting, which he said would help more veterans get jobs and start or grow businesses.
John said rural Arizona has always struggled in economic development because it doesn’t have spare money to spend. He said he’d focusing on helping to create an educated workforce and encouraging community colleges to work with businesses to align curriculum to workforce needs. John also would work to help small businesses in rural areas get better access to capital and training for applying for government loan programs.
John also said it’s important to change the negative rhetoric about border towns and focus on area assets.
Nutt said she started a chamber of commerce and a tourism council in Greenlee County to help stabilize local economies there. She said she wants to help preserve the rural way of life by strengthening local economies and maintaining workforce training programs. “It does the state no good to have areas that are floundering,” she said.
Each candidate said enforcing immigration law is a federal responsibility, but consideration should be given to crime that comes across the border.
Holmes said the Legislature should empower county sheriffs and stop sweeping funding from sheriff’s departments. Nutt agreed that the state should address the needs of border sheriffs.
John and Lindstrom said the state should push harder on the federal government to address illegal immigration and border-area crime. John said the state should get involved when the federal government won’t.