Legislative District 9 is a diverse district that 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.
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.
“This is not just hurting parents and teachers and students, this is hurting our economy, this is hurting our state,” Steele said.
Part of the solution, she said, lies in revisiting corporate tax breaks to make sure they are stimulating the economy as they are supposed to and, if not, doing away with them.
She also advocates for a five-year sunset review on all corporate incentives.
But even more than education, her biggest priority is water, she said, and how the state needs to redouble its drought plan efforts.
Steele faces a solid opponent in Republican Randy Fleenor, who earned his place on the ballot as a write-in candidate. A manager at IBM and a small business owner, Fleenor is well-versed on the issues and his focus on education and poverty line up well with the concerns of his district.
In this election, Steele’s experience gives her the edge, but Fleenor should continue to pursue public service.
Incumbents Friese and Powers Hannley, both Democrats, share many of the same concerns, including education funding, tax reform, environmental protection and gun safety.
Friese supports restoring District Additional Assistance, an education funding source curtailed for almost a decade, and protecting it from the hands of legislators by giving it a dedicated funding stream. Powers Hannley backs establishing a bipartisan tax force that would go over corporate tax cuts and special interest giveaways to determine their effectiveness.
Along with education and water, Powers Hannley said her priorities include making sure that the bipartisan Opioid Epidemic Bill is working as intended; passing the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — which guarantees equal rights regardless of sex — and focusing on poverty in LD9 and in the state.
Poor working families can benefit from improving the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, she said, and making sure something like the Legislature leaving unused $56 million in federal child-care funds doesn’t happen again.
For Friese, his priorities also include protecting cities’ and towns’ ability to use tools to create incentives to draw companies in, such as the Angel Investment Tax Credit and the Government Property Lease Excise Tax.
“We need to put aside the ‘D’ and the ‘R’ thing and recognize it’s important to think about what we’re doing for the state, and not what we’re doing for our team and your team,” Friese said.
The Star endorses Victoria Steele for state Senate and Randy Friese and Pamela Powers Hannley for state House in Legislative District 9.