Three candidates are battling for two seats in the Arizona House of Representatives in Legislative District 9.

Democrats Randall Friese and Pamela Powers Hannley have a lot of ideas in common while Republican Ana Henderson is offering voters a different choice. The three have different priorities, with incumbent Friese focusing on safety, Henderson on education, and Powers Hannley on the economy.

District 9 will have at least one new representative next year. Victoria Steele left the job in January to run for U.S. Congress but lost in the August primary. Matt Kopec is doing the job as an appointee, but he also lost in the primary.

Henderson and Powers Hannley are both first-time candidates.

Each of the candidates voted against Prop. 123, the controversial voter-approved measure meant to increase teacher pay, saying it was a dangerous move that would hurt the education system in the long run. But they all have different ideas about how to solve the education-funding problem.

Henderson wants to host an education committee to represent each of the five school districts in District 9 and talk to parents.

The Democrats support legislation to address teachers’ pensions and reduce college tuition. Friese said he would look for Republican collaboration.


Henderson said the moment she realized she wanted to be involved in politics was when she watched a trial with an unjust outcome.

Her husband encouraged her to run for office after he saw how much education issues meant to her, she said.

Henderson hopes to “bring the voice of the community to the capitol.”

Friese said he had a slow process of becoming involved in politics but wanted another way to serve the community. He took a three-month candidate training course before he ran the first time.

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He was encouraged to run when U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords resigned after the 2011 shootings. He was asked to run for Congress but decided not to because he “still has a lot to learn.”

Friese said he wants to address access to health care and public safety issues and to help create jobs.

As a physician who has treated patients who were injured in shootings, he said he supports new legislation related to background checks before buying firearms. He said 40 percent of Arizonans purchase a gun without a background check.

More background checks would make it harder for criminals to get guns and make it harder for someone to sell a firearm to someone who would do harm with it, he said.

Powers Hannley, a self-described progressive Democrat, said she has been involved in politics since she was a kid watching her dad run for president of a local labor union.

She knew she wanted to run for office once Steele ran for Congress and told her husband, “This is it.”

Powers Hannley has been a political blogger for 10 years and said a win would show her message is popular. Some of her top issues are economic reform, economic equality and refocusing the war on drugs.

Gabriella Vukelic is a University of Arizona journalism student who is an apprentice at the Star. Contact her at