Editor’s note: The following are excerpted from our endorsements published over the past several weeks. We did not endorse in every race, but focused on local competitive races for the Arizona Legislature, governor and federal offices. Find the full articles, along with a column explaining how and why the Star’s Editorial Board offers endorsements, at Tucson.com/2018endorsements
Governor: Doug Ducey (R)
Although we believe, as Democratic candidate David Garcia does, that education touches nearly every other challenge the state is facing, from economic development to public safety, the Garcia campaign stumbles in recognizing that the answer to every question can’t be “education.”
Gov. Doug Ducey, running for his second term, may not be the kind of firebrand on education that many believe is needed — but he has shepherded funding increases through the Republican Legislature.
To his credit, Ducey has visited our region much more often than his recent predecessors and recognizes that the connection with Mexico is vital to the state’s economy — particularly Southern Arizona’s.
We do not agree with Doug Ducey on every issue. On balance, however, we think Ducey’s performance as governor merits another term.
U.S. Senate: Kyrsten Sinema (D)
Kyrsten Sinema’s Arizona is more pragmatic than ideological, unafraid to change, concerned about health-care affordability and access, values veterans, supports local law enforcement assisting federal immigration authorities and is inclined to work together rather than draw battle lines.
She is running against Republican Martha McSally, who has abandoned any moderate leanings and attached herself to President Trump and his damaging policies on immigration, the middle class and health care.
Sinema, a Democrat, has had an interesting political track. She started as a progressive liberal in the Arizona Legislature and was known for opposing the war in Iraq. She has moved toward the center in Congress and angered Democrats by not supporting Rep. Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House, or Sen. Chuck Schumer as minority leader.
Sinema’s focus on the pragmatic shows in her legislative record in Congress: She’s put forward changes to the Affordable Care Act, such as delaying the health insurance tax and the medical-device tax, and tackled immigration and public safety with legislation to increase the number of Customs and Border Protection officers.
Congressional District 1: Tom O’Halleran (D)
Rep. Tom O’Halleran should be returned to Congress to continue his work of bringing people together and working for the constituents of the district, which reaches to the Utah border, but also dips into Oro Valley and Marana.
His priorities are common to all Americans: families’ futures, economics, health care and veterans.
He’s been part of the Problem Solvers Caucus of 24 Democrats and 24 Republicans who meet and try to hash out thorny issues together. He thinks House leadership needs to be revamped, no matter which political party is in charge. He supports changing how the House speaker is chosen and says that if a bill is bipartisan, it should get assigned to a committee, not simply languish on the speaker’s desk.
Congressional District 2: Ann Kirkpatrick (D)
Ann Kirkpatrick has served in Congress before, representing Congressional District 1, which includes Northern Arizona. She moved to Tucson to help with her grandchildren and is now running in Congressional District 2 against Lea Marquez Peterson, who was born and raised in Tucson.
Kirkpatrick’s prior three terms in Congress, even if it was representing CD 1, give her a track record. She has been excoriated for her vote on mining in Oak Flats in Western Arizona, but, as she explained it, “It was going to be mined, no question,” so she made sure she was at the negotiating table and added some limitations and environmental studies to the legislation.
More importantly, Kirkpatrick’s experience with the federal role in major needs in Arizona — water, infrastructure, homeland security, education — gives her a head start in effectiveness for CD 2.
Congressional District 3: Raúl Grijalva (D)
For over 15 years, Raúl Grijalva has ably represented Arizona Congressional District 3 as a strong progressive voice, speaking up on issues such as health care, the environment and immigration. He should return to Congress and continue to work for his constituents.
His opponent, Republican Nick Pierson, has erred in his attacks of Grijalva’s character and seemed misinformed on multiple points when speaking with the Star Editorial Board. He also does not reside in District 3.
Grijalva’s recent accomplishments include bipartisan legislation that would establish a restoration fund to address the multibillion-dollar national parks maintenance backlog, as well as efforts to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund. A ninth term in Congress would give him the opportunity to address what he sees as unfinished business: comprehensive immigration reform, removing the threat of uranium mining around the Grand Canyon, helping to revitalize education, and campaign finance reform. All are much-needed measures.
Residents of Legislative District 2, which includes South Tucson, Sahuarita, Green Valley, Santa Cruz County and runs south to the border with Mexico, face a complex set of challenges that include economic development, suburban expansion into rural areas and deficient infrastructure.
The district has been represented by Democrats Sen. Andrea Dalessandro, Rep. Rosanna Gabaldon and Rep. Daniel Hernandez, and all are campaigning for re-election. Republican Anthony Sizer is also running for the state House.
Based on the field of candidates, we believe LD 2 would be best served by retaining Hernandez and adding public school teacher Chris Ackerley in the House and business owner Shelley Kais, who are both Republicans, in the Senate.
This diverse district includes areas of central Tucson and the Catalina Foothills. While residents’ most pressing concerns may vary, they all have a strong group of candidates to choose from.
For the Nov. 6 election, the Star endorses Victoria Steele for Senate and incumbents Randy Friese and Pamela Powers Hannley for the House. Friese and Powers Hannley are incumbent Democrats running against Republican challenger Ana Henderson.
Steele, a Democrat and previous two-term representative for LD9, said public education in the state has not only been grossly underfunded, it has also been gutted by vouchers and the School Tuition Organizations set up to administer that money, which hurts all Arizonans.
She also advocates for a five-year sunset review on all corporate incentives, and says that water is her biggest priority.
Steele faces a solid opponent in Republican Randy Fleenor, who earned his place on the ballot as a write-in candidate; however, Steele’s experience gives her the edge in this race.
In Legislative District 10, the Star endorses David Bradley for Senate and Kirsten Engel and Domingo DeGrazia for the House.
Bradley, an incumbent Democrat, is running against Republican newcomer Marilyn Wiles; his deep institutional knowledge of child welfare, behavioral health and legislative process make him the much better candidate.
Engel and DeGrazia are both Democrats with much-needed professional experience that can help the Legislature. Engel, an incumbent, has a strong knowledge of environmental law, and DeGrazia is an attorney in the foster-care system. They face Republican Todd Clodfelter, who is also running for re-election.
We endorse Hollace Lyon and Ralph Atchue for the Legislature in District 11, which includes northern Pima County and SaddleBrooke.
Lyon, a Democrat, is running for the House against Republican incumbent Mark Finchem, Republican Brett Roberts and Democrat Marcela Quiroz. While voters will send two candidates to the Legislature, we are limiting our endorsement to Lyon.
For the Senate seat, Democrat Atchue is running against incumbent Republican Vince Leach.
We endorse Lyon and Atchue because they are impressive candidates and because we have watched Finchem and Leach operate as two of the most right-wing conservative ideologues in the Legislature, to the detriment of LD11 and the state.
Tucson Unified School District
The Star’s Editorial Board endorses Leila Counts and Adam Ragan for the Governing Board. It is time for a change on the fractious Governing Board. They are both educators with hands-on experience we think will be valuable.
They are running against two long-term incumbents, Adelita Grijalva and Michael Hicks. The fifth candidate, Doug Robson, owns a real estate management firm and does not present himself as well-versed in educational issues beyond generalities.
Pima Community College
The Star’s Editorial Board endorses Maria Garcia in District 3 and Debi Chess Mabie in District 5 for the Pima Community College Board of Governors. Both are newcomers who have done their homework on the PCC system. Garcia is facing Sherryn “Vikki” Marshal, who sat on the PCC board for 12 years before losing in 2012 after years of damaging dysfunction in the administration and on the board.
Chess Mabie, who has led nonprofit organizations, is facing Luis L. Gonzales (who is not the Luis Gonzales who is not running for re-election).