Arizona Election Signs

Election campaign signs at the corner of 48th Street and Warner Road in Ahwatukee. 10/4/2016

Arizona's Legislative District 18 comprises Ahwatukee, south Tempe, west Chandler and part of northwest Mesa. The current LD18 State Senator, Jeff Dial (R), was defeated in the primary elections by Frank Schmuck (R) who now faces off against Sean Bowie (D) in the general election. In the House of Representatives, LD18 incumbents Jill Norgaard (R) and Bob Robson (R) square off with Mitzi Epstein (D) and Linda Macias (Green).

To help you make an informed choice, we sent each candidate a questionnaire and collected the responses below. Linda Macias declined to participate. 

State Senate

Sean Bowie

+5 
Sean Bowie

Educational Background: BS and BA, Arizona State University; Master’s, Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University

Employment Background: Senior Planning Analyst, Office of the University Provost, Arizona State University

Past Community involvement: School bond and override campaigns; St. James Episcopal Church in Tempe

Current Community Involvement: Kyrene Resource Center

What are two major issues confronting LD 18 specifically that you believe state involvement can resolve, either through your mediation or possibly legislative action? Please explain how you would approach the problem.

We can make some significant progress on restoring education funding if I win this race. I want to bring bipartisan government back to the state capitol, where all voices have a seat at the table. Winning this race gets us closer to that goal. New leadership, paired with the experience and the commitment to advocating for our community, will go a long way at the capitol. Second, my collaborative approach to governance can help resolve the Loop 202 issue and the Lakes golf course battle. My leadership approach is to sit down with all stakeholders and work together to advocate for what’s best for our community here in Ahwatukee. At the end of the day, it’s not about what my party wants or special interests ask for; it’s about what’s best for the people of Ahwatukee.

What issue affecting Ahwatukee directly concerns you most and how do you think you can help?

The most important issue is protecting our local public schools, and restoring education funding. As a product of our local public schools, this issue is personal for me. When our schools are strong, we attract better jobs and build stronger communities.

Many officials said that Prop 123 was the first step toward resolving the funding problems involving K-12 schools. What do you think are the NEXT TWO steps specifically and what specific actions will you take to advance them?

The first step is to increase the baseline appropriation for student funding. We have the resources now, the only thing missing is legislators willing to advocate for it. It will be my top priority in the state senate. The second step is to make sure that those dollars are going into the classroom where they are needed, not on more administration. We need to hire more teachers to help lower class sizes, and give our teachers the resources they need to be successful.

Do you favor state funding for vocational training programs? Why or why not? What specific programs would you support (i.e. high-school level, post high school, specialized vocational schools)

Yes, I think vocational training programs are important, and they deserve our support. We must do a better job of training our students for the jobs in a 21st century economy, and these programs are crucial to doing that. When JTEDs and CTEs were cut in 2015, I know it was devastating to so many families in this district. These programs give students a chance to learn a trade that will lead directly to a high paying job after graduation. Across the state you saw parents, students, and educators coming together to advocate at the capitol to have their funding restored. I was delighted to see them successful.

How specifically would you seek to improve the funding issues facing community colleges and the three state universities? If not, why not?

This issue is personal for me. My work at ASU is dedicated to financial aid and trying to make higher education more affordable for working families. It’s harder than ever today, when tuition at our state universities has tripled in just the last eight years. Our state has the resources to invest in our community colleges and state universities, and I believe that targeted investments in critical areas like job training and workforce development can help grow our economy and move our state forward. In return, the universities should expand financial aid to help students pay for their college education. Together, we can train our students for the rest of their careers while also limiting the amount of student loans they need to pay for their education.

Should you as a legislator become involved in the community concerns about the South Mountain Freeway, particularly its design? How could you impact the process with ADOT anticipating a final design before you take office? Is this freeway a sensible idea?

Yes, legislators should be involved as a voice for the community. As it stands now, I do not support the current route that ADOT has proposed. If we have to live with this freeway, we must make it livable. I am concerned about the elevated structure of the freeway, and the potential noise problems that it will create for Ahwatukee residents. I am also concerned about the development of the extension of Chandler Blvd. I support going back to the drawing board and coming up with a route that incorporates the needs and concerns of Ahwatukee residents, and makes it livable for our community. A model here would be State Route 51, which was designed with the community in mind and resulted in a freeway that serves as a testament to urban freeway design and construction.

Do you see any need or opportunity for state involvement in the turmoil surrounding the future of Ahwatukee’s four golf communities? If you see a way, what would it specifically be?

Yes, this is an important issue for Ahwatukee, and as an Ahwatukee resident, one I take personally. The Lakes golf course should not become a development property for more homes, and the home owners in the community have a right to be upset. I would work with the city of Phoenix and recommend one of two solutions: either the city purchases the golf course and turns the area into a public park, or we look at undertaking a land swap with the owner of the golf course with land elsewhere in the city of Phoenix. The goal of both of these solutions is to maintain the open space nature of the golf course. If a golf course is not economically feasible, we should work towards a solution that is.

What will your top three priorities be in the next legislative session?

My top priority will be to restore education funding for our local public schools. Second, I want to audit our state budget to ensure that our tax dollars are being spent wisely and judiciously. Third, I want to work with local, federal, and state officials to develop long term infrastructure plans for our water, energy, and transportation sectors. In short, my priority is to look forward to build a strong Arizona for generations to come.


Frank Schmuck

+5 
Frank Schmuck

Educational Background: United States Air Force Academy, Bachelors of Science Engineering, Minor French, Graduated Military Honors; Attended American Graduate School of International Management, aka Thunderbird. 

Employment Background: US Air Force 1988 – 1993; Southwest Airlines 1994 - Present

Past Community involvement:

ALS Association Arizona Chapter, Past Board Member

America United in Memory, Co-Creator of Emblem Donated to American Red Cross after 9-11

American Motorcycle Association, Member

Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame, Inducted 2004  

Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame Society, Inaugural President

Dallastown Area High School Alumni Association, Past Chair

Home Owner Association, Past Vice-President and Board Member

Kiwanis International, Past Club President, Life Member, Hixson Fellow

Military Officers Association of America, Life Member

Military Order of the World Wars, Life Member

National Rifle Association, Life Member

Republican National Committee, Life Member

U.S. Congressional Military Service Academy Selection Board, Member

Service Academy Alumni Association, Member

Southwest Airlines Adopt-A-Pilot, Past Member

Southwest Autism Resource and Research Center (SAARC), Past Member

SSN-702 Society, Past Fleet Admiral

Tempe Historical Museum Advisory Board, Past Member

U.S. Air Force Academy Association of Graduates, Life Member and Past Board Member

U.S. Air Force Academy - Ecole de l'Air Echange Association, Member  

U.S. Air Force Academy Sabre Society, Member

U.S.S. Phoenix Commission, Past Board Member

Veterans Medical Leadership Council, Past Board Member

Voices Take Flight, Founder, Past President and Past Chair

Current Community Involvement:

American Legion, Member

Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame Society Foundation, Chair

Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), Member

Legislative District 18 Republicans, Elected Precinct Committeeman

St. Andrew the Apostle, Member, Cantor, Lector

Tempe Dollars for Scholars, Founder and Board Member

Tempe Sister Cities, Life Member

U.S. Senatorial Military Service Academy Selection Board, Member

Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Life Member

What are two major issues confronting LD 18 specifically that you believe state involvement can resolve, either through your mediation or possibly legislative action? Please explain how you would approach the problem.

Taxes and education are two important issues for our District. It’s time for growth, and as the federal government keeps more of our hard earned dollars the states tend to follow. I propose we let the people of Arizona keep their money. It is possible to write responsible legislation that eliminates our Arizona state income tax over several years.

Seven other states do not have a state income tax. North Carolina is on a 10-year plan to eliminate theirs; we can beat them! By drawing down our state income tax by 1% per year and replacing it with a consumption fee of ¼% per year on items EXCEPT basic food and clothing we protect those on fixed incomes, yet inspire people to be productive. 

The average resident could save $1,650 a year.[1]  Current income tax credits could be transitioned to the property tax, which I’ll work to protect against increases. Collecting consumption revenue from estimated millions who pay no Arizona income taxes every year just makes sense as they too use our services.

Once accomplished, we create a positive environment for both business and residents to compete and prosper, where all are treated fairly and equally.  No more playing favorites and hurting those who are hard working, productive citizens. This creates a state that encourages work over welfare entitlements.[2]

Education indirectly drives our local economies. Prop 123 was a step in the right direction, yet it didn’t go far enough to ensure funds go directly to the classroom and teachers. Our public schools in the district enjoy a great reputation, as do our many charter schools in the area.

In order to serve the residents of our district, I plan on investigating how money is allocated to the schools, and the restrictions of the tax credit program, which gives parents the freedom to chose the best educational situation for their own children. Great teachers help create great students, but it is up to us to make sure that we put our money where our mouth is to attract and keep qualified and innovative teachers in our classes [emphasis from candidate]. People choose our district to live, work and raise their families.  Let’s keep it that way 

What issue affecting Ahwatukee directly concerns you most and how do you think you can help?

Ahwatukee is concerned about the proposed 202-freeway expansion. While the development of it is still in litigation, it is imperative to hold the state and other interested parties accountable.

I have spent my career in transportation and when the Arizona Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration wanted to widen the US60 and build the Loop 101, I stepped up with a team to address the noise issue for residents.

We proposed ways to reduce noise using rubberized asphalt and demonstrated its mitigating effects for adjacent neighborhoods.[3] So whatever this outcome, I plan on supporting residents while ensuring the state and other parties fulfill their obligations to the highest standards possible.

Many officials said that Prop 123 was the first step toward resolving the funding problems involving K-12 schools. What do you think are the NEXT TWO steps specifically and what specific actions will you take to advance them.

The next two steps are ensuring we curb the cost of higher education getting back to Article XI, Section 6, of the Arizona Constitution provides for a “university” at which “the instruction furnished shall be as nearly free as possible.”

 Additionally we need to ensure that budget dollars are getting to our teachers and students – those who need it the most. Arizona has more than 230 schools districts, while Nevada less than two-dozen districts. We are comparably the same in ratings nationally, so doesn’t that tells us that more bureaucracy doesn’t make the teachers any better or the students any smarter?

It’s time to study, and consider effective ways to make our educational system more effective and more productive without adding more administration but rather reducing the number of students per classroom and giving our beloved teachers the pay and tools they need to be great. 

Do you favor state funding for vocational training programs? Why or why not? What specific programs would you support (i.e. high-school level, post high school, specialized vocational schools)

When elected I will propose the establishment of matching Employment Scholarship Accounts (ESA) as a viable way for students desiring to continue to technical and/or the state university systems. Individuals and employers could donate into individual student accounts for further education. Students would produce either equal scholarship or earned income that year to withdraw.

It’s important for the student to have “skin in the game,” otherwise this becomes an opportunity for the funds to be spent without a serious commitment. That should not be the intent of any educational funds especially when they come from hard working residents and taxpayers.

It is imperative that we explore this option and more, and that we promote vocational education as much as secondary education. Through inventive and strict use of funds, we could support those individuals who will become Arizona's future in ways that will benefit them and us as a state.  

How specifically would you seek to improve the funding issues facing community colleges and the three state universities? If not, why not?

By staying focused on eliminating the Arizona state income tax, studies show we will eventually generate more revenue than our current income tax. When we do we can direct that income to our teachers and students – those who need it most.

To do that we plan to steadily replace the income tax with a much smaller consumption fee using a proven plan from Arizona State University.  This will inspire People to work, and small businesses to compete and grow ultimately giving more freedom to our residents. 

Should you as a legislator become involved in the community concerns about the South Mountain Freeway, particularly its design? How could you impact the process with ADOT anticipating a final design before you take office? Is this freeway a sensible idea?

I have spent my career in transportation and when the Arizona Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration wanted to widen the US60 and build the Loop 101, I stepped up with a team to address the noise issue for residents. We proposed ways to reduce noise using rubberized asphalt and demonstrated its mitigating effects for adjacent neighborhoods.[4] I plan on supporting residents while ensuring the state and other parties fulfill their obligations to the highest standards possible. As your next State Senator that is how I will serve you.

Do you see any need or opportunity for state involvement in the turmoil surrounding the future of Ahwatukee’s four golf communities? If you see a way, what would it specifically be?

Ultimately the future of Ahwatukee’s four golf communities rests in the hands of the People and the City of Phoenix. As a State Senator there is limited direct influence that can affect its outcome; however, facilitating cooperation between parties involved can be beneficial to the People of Ahwatukee and the City of Phoenix. 

What will your top three priorities be in the next legislative session?

Taxes, education and the Loop 202 freeway are three important issues for our District. It’s time for growth, and as the federal government keeps more of our hard earned dollars the states tend to follow. I propose we let the people of Arizona keep their money. It is possible to write responsible legislation that eliminates our Arizona State Income Tax over several years.

Seven other states do not have a state income tax. North Carolina is on a 10-year plan to eliminate theirs; we can beat them! By drawing down our state income tax by 1% per year and replacing it with a consumption fee of ¼% per year on items EXCEPT basic food and clothing we protect those on fixed incomes, yet inspire people to be productive. 

The average resident could save $1,650 a year.[5]  Current income tax credits could be transitioned to the property tax, which I’ll work to protect against increases. Collecting consumption revenue from millions who visit our Arizona each year and pay no taxes, just makes sense as they too use our services. 

Once accomplished, we create a positive environment for both business and residents to compete and prosper, where all are treated fairly and equally.  No more playing favorites and hurting those who are hard working, productive citizens. This creates a state that encourages work over welfare entitlements.[6] We will produce more revenue this way and when we do we can direct that to those who need it the most - our teachers and students.

What is your proudest accomplishment for your community or a community group? 

I think the proudest accomplishment came anytime I was able to serve along with others in a cause greater than ourselves. Whether it was successfully fighting for treatment and benefits for veterans diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, or successfully fighting for People in neighborhoods affected by freeway implementation and expansion or successfully implementing scholarship organizations that have literally helped hundreds of students continue their education, all of these efforts involved People who needed and deserved help.  

Servant based leadership is something this country and my company taught me. I am offering that to you to become your next State Senator.  I humbly ask for your support in bringing integrity, service and leadership to the Arizona State Senate.

[1] https://www.azdor.gov/Portals/0/Reports/2012-Arizona-Individual-Income-Tas-Statistics.pdf

[2] http://research.wpcarey.asu.edu/economic-liberty/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/CSEL-Policy-Report-2015-01-Income-Tax.pdf

[3] US60 Noise Study; Loop 101 to McClintock, www.TeamSCHMUCK.com/clubexpress.com Documents for copy

[4] US60 Noise Study; Loop 101 to McClintock, www.TeamSCHMUCK.com/clubexpress.com Documents for copy 

[5] https://www.azdor.gov/Portals/0/Reports/2012-Arizona-Individual-Income-Tas-Statistics.pdf

[6] http://research.wpcarey.asu.edu/economic-liberty/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/CSEL-Policy-Report-2015-01-Income-Tax.pdf


House of Representatives

Mitzi (Denise) Epstein

+5 
Denise "Mitzi" Epstein

Educational Background:

Bachelors in Computer Science, Bradley University in Peoria, Il

Courses toward a Masters of Business Administration, Washington University in St. Louis, MO

Employment Background:

Computer Systems Analyst for Olin Brass, Inc., Citicorp Mortgage, Inc., and Aerovox Corporation

Owner of Custom Language Training, LLC Past

Community involvement:

Kyrene Elementary School District Governing Board, Arizona Parent Teacher Association, Vice President/Legislative Chair; AZ Parents for Public Education (APPLE) Coalition, co-founder; Yes Public Ed, co-founder; AYSO, American Youth Soccer Organization, coach, coach trainer, board member various PTOs and PTAs, president, treasurer, secretary, and chair of the Wheel O Rama  Co-founder of Kyrene Area Youth Coalition – after school youth expo Current Community Involvement: Volunteer for Kyrene de Los Ninos PTA

What are two major issues confronting LD 18 specifically that you believe state involvement can resolve, either through your mediation or possibly legislative action? Please explain how you would approach the problem.

The most urgent issues are jobs and schools.

Far too many Arizonans are unemployed, or more often, under-employed. They have a job and they are getting by, but they want to get ahead!

Our community is a hotbed of innovation. From Intel and GoDaddy to Tech Shop and Carvana, we have some good jobs and great innovation startups here. Arizona can be proud of our low tax climate, but that is not enough to attract, grow, and expand businesses here. We can support our business environment with a reliable infrastructure and collaborative partnerships among private industry, academics, and government. The Bioscience Roadmap is such a partnership and it has worked and is working to grow businesses like T-Gen here. As Jeffry Trent, T-Gen President likes to say, “Local research benefits local patients and local economies first.” We should continue progressing along the Bioscience Roadmap to support top-notch healthcare here, in Arizona.

Small business owners need working capital, a well-educated workforce, and more customers. They get more customers by getting people back to work. We get them back to work with technical training, and strong schools.

Our schools are hurting. Some legislators are trying to convince us that funding for schools is done, and students and teachers should get used to doing without. That is the wrong direction.

We need to Fully Restore Education Funding to keep our best teachers here [emphasis from candidate]. How do we do it? We can fund our schools by using the revenue we have, but we must stop making new tax loopholes that don’t make better jobs. The legislature has made new loopholes for special interests nearly every year for over 24 years. We can also look to parts of government where we can reduce waste and avoid potential corrupt deal-making by turning on the audits and actively considering the results. Our prison system and charter schools are two areas where we should use audits to improve efficiencies, as the audits for district schools continuously press for improvements. When I was on the Kyrene School Board, we were one of the leanest in administration spending in the state.

I’ve been advocating for strong public schools for over 25 years. With others, I’ve co-founded coalitions of parents, teachers, retirees, and business leaders to forge solutions for our future.

The innovation economy demands a well-educated workforce. In the 2016 Alliance Bank Survey, CEOs responded that investing in K-12 public education was the number one action state government could take to improve the business climate.

What issue affecting Ahwatukee directly concerns you most and how do you think you can help?

I have always been dedicated to local control and keeping communities safe. As a representative of Ahwatukee, I will speak up for our community to have the resources necessary to keep us safe. The legislature’s bad habit of sweeping funds away from cities must stop. In the last legislative session, the state usurped control from cities in a series of bills that became laws. I believe that taking control away from cities is detrimental to our quality of life. Cities should be centers of innovation, making new ways to make our lives better. Instead, the incumbent legislators created a series of laws that banned Phoenix from making solutions differently from Mesa or Tempe or Chandler. Each city is unique and wonderful. These laws were a terrible example of suppressing local control. I will fight for local control in our cities and in our schools.

Many officials said that Prop 123 was the first step toward resolving the funding problems involving K- 12 schools. What do you think are the NEXT TWO steps specifically and what specific actions will you take to advance them?

Since the Great Recession, our schools have suffered from cuts in the ballpark of $1200 per pupil. Prop 123 will fill that hole for about $300 per pupil. We certainly have more steps to take!

First, I believe children are our future and public education is an investment we must make to assure a bright future.

The next step is to use the revenue we have, without creating new taxes, and also without creating new tax loopholes that do not make better jobs. Last session, Arizona had a budget surplus. Instead of using it for schools, the incumbents gave it away in more unfair loopholes. For most of the past 24 years, the legislature has added loophole after loophole, making Swiss cheese out of our tax policy. It’s unfair to you because it means ordinary Arizonans have to pay more, or our schools suffer. In this case, the loophole avalanche means both: your taxes have gone up, and your schools are not achieving as they could be.

The funds provided by Prop 123 end after ten years so we need to acknowledge that this is a temporary patch that only gets us a fraction of where we need to be. Yet, Prop 123 appears to be the only thing the incumbents will provide for schools.

I will put the brakes on these special interest loopholes my opponents have supported and prioritize our revenue for funding education.

I will also call for turning on the audits to our prisons. Prison funding is out of control. In the past 30 years, funding for prisons has increased twice as much as population increases. Meanwhile, education funding has not even increased enough to keep up with population. Other states are reducing the number of inmates, saving money, and keeping their states safer with reforms. That is the kind of change we need. The incumbent legislators have backwards priorities. I believe education is the way to a brighter future.

In a nutshell, here are my 3 steps:

1- Care about education enough to want to invest in it.

2- No more new tax loopholes that don’t make better jobs.

3- Stop out of control spending on prisons with audits and analyze them for cost savings.

Do you favor state funding for vocational training programs? Why or why not? What specific programs would you support (i.e. high-school level, post high school, specialized vocational schools)

Yes, I favor state funding for vocational training programs. The Joint Technical Education Districts (JTEDs) have proven to be a great source of skilled workers for Arizona businesses. My opponents supported a massive cut to these schools in 2015 that nearly forced the closure of them across the state.

Career and Technical Education allows students to graduate with trade certifications and ready to work in their fields. Businesses work with JTEDs to provide guidance on what they need from workers and to provide instruction to students. Whenever I tour the classes at EVIT, our East Valley JTED, I find the students’ level of engagement in the classwork to be remarkable. They are excited to learn and they find the work to be relevant to their lives. This is a worthwhile program that should be continued and expanded to more middle schools and junior high schools, as well as the courses taught in high schools and in JTED schools. However, it should be expanded with caution, to assure that further investment produces genuine career and technical education, not classes that are CTE in name only.

How specifically would you seek to improve the funding issues facing community colleges and the three state universities? If not, why not?

We need to stop slashing their budgets. Period. It’s deplorable that we had an $800 million surplus and still cut funding to education so we could provide tax breaks for corporations. It is wrong to provide special interests a handout while burdening our future doctors, engineers and teachers with tuition that makes terrible debt, or puts college out of reach.

Should you as a legislator become involved in the community concerns about the South Mountain Freeway, particularly its design? How could you impact the process with ADOT anticipating a final design before you take office? Is this freeway a sensible idea?

I have heard many homeowners and residents of Ahwatukee, and many are angry about this issue. They do not want an eyesore, noise, traffic, and pollution from the highway. The Department of Transportation has done a terrible job of communicating with the community about their plans.

Recently at an Ahwatukee Village Planning committee meeting, ADOT did not provide a plan to the community. It’s been over 30 years! They have a lot of content on their website so it is inexcusable for ADOT to do that at a community meeting.

If the freeway is to be built, we need to make it an asset to our community rather than an eye sore. If we have to live with it, make it livable. We should look to the way that SR51 was built as an example. It is depressed, and it has walls with art added, to be effective barriers to noise. I will work with all stakeholders to come to a solution that protects the integrity of our neighborhoods and the property values of residents.

Do you see any need or opportunity for state involvement in the turmoil surrounding the future of Ahwatukee’s four golf communities? If you see a way, what would it specifically be?

Local control is very important to keeping our neighborhoods strong and our voices heard in our community. The concerns of homeowners – our neighbors – must be heard and attended. Residents were promised green spaces when they bought their homes. Neighbors have told me about their concerns about the potential for con artists or frauds to misrepresent their proposed plans for the area. They have concerns about the management of runoff water. Our laws in Arizona should protect homeowners from fraud and misrepresentations. Our laws should not always favor the biggest corporations with the most expensive lawyers . Our laws should honor the agreements that residents had when they bought their homes. Those agreements included open spaces and I will work with residents and officials to make solutions that might include parks, or greenbelts, or other options for managing water runoff, and providing open spaces.

What will your top three priorities be in the next legislative session?

My top three priorities in the next legislative session will be restoring education funding, growing Arizona’s high-wage jobs, and stopping dark money from corrupting our elections and our laws. Both of my opponents are heavily financed by lobbyists and special interest groups. That is alarming. I will work for less money in politics.

What is your proudest accomplishment for your community or a community group?

My proudest accomplishment for my community is my advocacy for our public schools. For over twodecades, I have fought to improve our public school system. During that time, I have been a co-founder of multiple organizations that actively support public education throughout the state by helping with local school bonds and overrides and advocating at the Capitol.

Our coalitions have successfully stopped cuts to the federal school lunch program in Arizona. Children cannot learn if they are hungry. I have testified in legislative committees for numerous bills that became law including authorizing schools to provide epi-pens on campus for highly allergic students, and making school buses safer by requiring full stops on private roadways.

As the legislative Issues Chair and Vice President of the Arizona PTA, I have lobbied members of Congress in Washington DC to strengthen the family requirements in the ESSA – Every Student Succeeds Act. Children achieve better academically when their families are actively engaged in school activities and in school decisions.

As an elected member of the Kyrene Elementary School District Governing Board, I frequently met with parents to help them advocate for their children in the school system. During my term, Kyrene had one of the lowest rates of administrative costs in the state, and our test scores have always been tops.

We are fortunate to live in a community of many great schools, district and charter. As a state legislator, I will work every day for strong public education – not the status quo, but the best our schools can be -- by listening to teachers, parents, retirees, people working in local businesses, and the whole school community.


Jill Norgaard

+5 
Jill Norgaard

Educational Background:

Bachelors of Science in Engineering Management

Masters of Business Administration

AZ Real Estate License (currently inactive)

Employment Background:

Current State Representative

President/Small Business Owner, MSA

Former Vice President McKechnie Plastics

Project Engineer Honeywell International

National Sales Manager HEICO Corporation

Past Community involvement:

Charity and Development Phoenix Diocese-Appeal Chairman

Corpus Christi Church Volunteer Teacher

HOA representative

VP Ahwatukee Republican Women

Alternate at Large, NFRW Biennial Convention

Graduate of Dodie Londen Excellence in Public Service Series

Congressional Delegate AZ  - RNC Convention Cleveland 2016

Child Crisis Center Volunteer

PTO Fundraiser, Kyrene Sierra

Child Help Volunteer

Current Community Involvement:

100 Women Who Care, Member

Tempe Union High School, Volunteer Guest Teacher

Early literacy/Dyslexia Awareness Initiative

Andre House volunteer

Precinct Committeewoman

State Committeewomen

Corpus Christi Lector, EM

Ahwatukee Republican Women’s Club, Member

AZ Fed of Republican Women, Member

Child Help Volunteer

What are two major issues confronting LD 18 specifically that you believe state involvement can resolve, either through your mediation or possibly legislative action? Please explain how you would approach the problem.

Closing the early literacy achievement gap and implementing full day kindergarten.  While visiting our schools, I met with the parents and educators of students who have dyslexia.  Approximately 18% of all students have some form of dyslexia, many of which go undetected.  Intervention is somewhat inconsistent, especially when some schools have all day K and some do not.   I initiated a stake holders group which presented a comprehensive plan at the State Board of Education in May.  The plan includes the following elements: a consistent diagnostics approach; handbook; teacher resources; required teacher training.  Additionally I hosted a two-day dyslexia awareness campaign at the “First Things First” summit and spoke on the panel with regards to early literacy. These are legislative bills I have scheduled for next session.

Promoting and protecting our business community.  As the Vice Chairman of Commerce, I worked to reduce the government overreach to our businesses.  My primary sponsored bills such as HB2337 allows business the opportunity to correct infractions prior to fines, and HB2652 enables technical digital platforms for use of contracting. As an engineer and small business owner, I can relate to the overreach and will continue to identify policy improvements to keep our businesses healthy and prosperous.

What issue affecting Ahwatukee directly concerns you most and how do you think you can help?

Navigating through the proposed 202 freeway process.  In meeting with ADOT the past year, it has been a challenge to provide the community with updates on the plans for the freeway.  Through persistence, I initiated a freeway forum, which is attended by over 200 residents. There were stations available that highlighted the current plans for Lakewood water wells, aesthetics, rubberized asphalt, noise, and traffic congestion.  It was a great opportunity to give the residents access to the ADOT personnel and provide input into the ongoing proposed designs.  I continue to facilitate these meetings.

Many officials said that Prop 123 was the first step toward resolving the funding problems involving K-12 schools. What do you think are the NEXT TWO steps specifically and what specific actions will you take to advance them?

Step one: Continued reduction of the complexity in the education finance formulas. I introduced a bill, HB2476, that had bi-partisan support that provides each school greater flexibility on how they spend their Maintenance and Operations funding, which includes teachers’ salaries. We have over $70 million in this line item now, yet its multi-page instruction makes it extremely difficult to navigate.  Given the opportunity, I will author an increase in this line item during the next session, and reconcile funding formulas so schools can more easily access existing funds.

Step two: Teacher retention and recruitment.   Volunteer teaching and initiating the “Take your Teacher to the Legislator Day,” gave me great opportunities to have constructive exchanges first hand with educators. Salaries, teaching to the test and paying for their own supplies are issues that consistently came up.  My priority list - Prop 123 dollars allocated for the teacher’s salaries will be accounted for, ensuring that our teachers salaries are commensurate with the national average (AZ Middle school median is $41,200 compared to national average of $55,860  - Bureau of Labor Statistics) and credit cards for teaching supplies. 

Do you favor state funding for vocational training programs? Why or why not? What specific programs would you support (i.e. high-school level, post high school, specialized vocational schools)

Yes I do favor state funding for vocational training programs. I was one of the primary sponsors of the restoration of the Joint Technical Education District bill (JTED).   Graduation rates for these programs are typically over 95%.  I recently presented at the AZ Manufacturing Partnership, with the objective of pairing high school students with trade skills that need jobs with associated job-share programs.

How specifically would you seek to improve the funding issues facing community colleges and the three state universities?

University funding went from $660 million to $698 million in 2016/17 and represents 7% of our general fund.  Other competing appropriations are as follows:

Gen Fund Appropriations       2016                2017

K-12 (42%)                              3,889               4,069

AHCCS/DHS (19%)                   1,205                1,837

Dept Corrections (11%)             1,029                1,046

Other Agencies (11%)                  934                1,087

University (7%)                           660                   698

D Econ Sec (5%)                         496                    530     

Dept Child Safety (4%)                356                    379

Revenue: Sales and Use tax (45%), Individual  Income tax (40%) Corp Inc (5%) Other

The % allocations have remained relatively consistent.  It is difficult to change the percents, so therefore, how do we increase the entire revenue?

The Federal government owns approximately 40% of our state.  State income is derived from property taxes, sales tax, of which we are not receiving 40% more of revenue, due to us not owning our land.  We have been working with our federal counterparts to seek ways of additional ownership and therefore that income stream.

An opportunity for increased revenue that I have pursued is identifying University research and development opportunities to keep dollars in our state, making it beneficial for both the company investing and the University who received the funding.  I have facilitated meetings to this end. 

Should you as a legislator become involved in the community concerns about the South Mountain Freeway, particularly its design? How could you impact the process with ADOT anticipating a final design before you take office? Is this freeway a sensible idea?

Absolutely, legislators should be involved with the concerns that the community may have with state projects.  That is why I organized the May meeting at Pecos Community Center with the AZ Department of Transportation and our residents.   A contractor was selected in January and I wanted the public to be in the loop of what the proposed plans were related to their issues with noise, aesthetics, freeway height, intersections, and water availability.  There were many concerned residents at the meeting’s six stations, providing ample opportunity for residents to discuss their concerns with ADOT personal and their contractors.   Follow on discussions and community input is an ongoing process.

Do you see any need or opportunity for state involvement in the turmoil surrounding the future of Ahwatukee’s four golf communities? If you see a way, what would it specifically be?

The golf course issues are more related to the city and the residents.  I am available to our city council representatives if they need me to weigh in at the state level and have been in communication with the HOA members.

What will your top three priorities be in the next legislative session?

1) Continuing development of the early literacy program with dyslexia and completing the pilot program we started at the pre-school level. The handbook will be complete by the end of the year.  2) This will be coupled with a full day kindergarten effort. 3) Expand my HB 2476 School Finance bill to increase the dollar amount that schools can use from revenue from rentals/sales of small items on maintenance and overhead.  This bill was in collaboration with our school CFO and constituents.  As such, I believe we need more participation and education of our constituents on government.  I have hosted many businesses, chambers, and student groups at the capital.  Any constituent can affect change and provide input for me when I have bills related to their industry.  Better communication and accessibility to our voters yield great ideas for policy change.

What are the three legislative accomplishments you are most proud of in the most recent term? Why?

The legislation I created on with the HB bill that reduced the red tape for schools relative to access of school plant funds.  This gives them more flexibility in spending maintenance and operations funds, which can be used for teacher’s salaries.  I was happy to work on the team with our district’s CFO. 

Small business bill (HB2455) that give s them an ‘opportunity to correct’ in lieu of an initial fine.  It protects them from government intrusion and protects independent contractors.

Initiating a statewide dyslexia campaign to address early literacy issues, and hosting the dyslexia summit this summer. 


Bob Robson

+5 
Bob Robson

Educational Background: Master of Arts Degree and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

Employment Background: Bob is a Professor of Practice in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University.

Past Community involvement: Bob served on the Chandler City Council from 1992-2000 and was elected by his peers as the Vice Mayor. Bob Robson's desire to develop a sustained and healthy economy led to his membership on the Greater Phoenix Economic Council Strategic Policy Committee. Robson has also served on the Planning and Zoning Commission and on the Neighborhood Preservation and Revitalization Study Committee.

Current Community Involvement: Bob has been deeply involved with Kiwanis for over 34 years and also has been of service to the Salvation Army, is founding Member of the Chandler Boys & Girls Club, Past President of the Chandler Kiwanis Club, a member of the Chandler Airport Commission, Chairman of the Maricopa County Sports Commission, Chairman of the Arizona Auto Theft Authority and a Maricopa Community College Teacher.

What are two major issues confronting LD 18 specifically that you believe state involvement can resolve, either through your mediation or possibly legislative action? Please explain how you would approach the problem.

The first issue is quality of life. This is a concern for every resident of the district and something that can be easily improved if we continue to focus on education, economy, and public safety. Ensuring that our workforce receives a quality education leads to a strong economy. In our district we should continue to make sure that our school districts remain among the top in the state. To do so they must be funded properly. By supporting police and fire, we ensure that our community is safe.

The second issue would be to ensure that we promote a business friendly environment. This can be done through both mediation and legislative action. By reducing regulations on small businesses and supporting job creation policies, we ensure that all residents of the district are able to gain employment. 

What issue affecting Ahwatukee directly concerns you most and how do you think you can help?

As I’ve previously mentioned, quality of life is always an issue. This means having excellent schools, great jobs, and safety through great police and fire services. At the state level, it’s important support these goals so that quality companies, such as Honeywell, Apple, Intel, and Google, come here and stay here. This is why our state universities should be properly funded second to none.  

Many officials said that Prop 123 was the first step toward resolving the funding problems involving K-12 schools. What do you think are the NEXT TWO steps specifically and what specific actions will you take to advance them?

First, we should look to renew Prop 301 (Arizona Sales Tax for Education). The funding it provides is crucial to our education system. It will be up for renewal in 2021 and it is important that we focus on keeping this revenue available for our schools. Second, we need to focus on ways to increase the amount of money going to classrooms. This can be done in multiple ways but the two most effective would be to reform the funding formula and to increase the amount of money the state spends on K-12 education.

Do you favor state funding for vocational training programs? Why or why not? What specific programs would you support (i.e. high-school level, post high school, specialized vocational schools)

I support any efforts to keep Arizona’s economy strong and I believe vocational training programs can be beneficial for some students. I would support programs at both the high school and post high school levels. Not all students learn in the same ways and it’s important that we provide a diverse base of educational opportunities.

How specifically would you seek to improve the funding issues facing community colleges and the three state universities? If not, why not?

In order to keep our higher education institutions as affordable as possible for students, the state must continue to invest in them. It is imperative that we work with the universities and community colleges to find innovative ways to meet their needs. It is important that we have a balanced budget however it is equally important that our schools are funded properly. 

Should you as a legislator become involved in the community concerns about the South Mountain Freeway, particularly its design? How could you impact the process with ADOT anticipating a final design before you take office? Is this freeway a sensible idea?

Representative Norgaard, Senator Dial, and I have become involved in concerns about its design. We recently held a meeting for public to come out and voice their concerns. The most important way we can impact the process is by making sure that all voices are heard.

Do you see any need or opportunity for state involvement in the turmoil surrounding the future of Ahwatukee’s four golf communities? If you see a way, what would it specifically be?

I’d like to applaud Councilman Sal DiCiccio for his work on the issue. The issues concerning the golf communities rest solely with the municipal government and are not state issues. While land use issues are municipal issues, I’m happy to facilitate meetings or discussion with all interested parties.

What will your top three priorities be in the next legislative session?

1.     Education

2.     Economy

3.     Public Safety

What are the three legislative accomplishments you are most proud of in the most recent term? Why?

The first and foremost would be fighting for additional education funding. During my recent term, I’ve voted on matters such as restoring Career and Technical Education (JTEDs) funding and ensuring that our universities received additional appropriations. Last session, I also fought to make sure that K-12 received additional funding and that school districts in LD18 didn’t get hurt. I am extremely proud of my work on education issues as a strong education system ensures a strong economy. I worked with our school superintendents, teachers, and legislators to make sure that additional funding was made available and that other cuts did not occur. We were able to save millions in our legislative district that would have been otherwise lost.

Second, I am proud to have been a part of the effort to bring companies like Google, Apple, and others into the state. In recent years, many companies have moved into Arizona because of its business friendly environment and quality of life.

My third accomplishment was helping to implement a program where firefighters make house calls for veterans. These house calls are to ensure that after veterans have been released from the hospital, firefighters follow up to make sure that veterans are receiving needed medical services. This pilot project started in Chandler and has recently expanded to Tempe. The reason I worked to bring this program together was after driving back and forth every day and hearing about veterans not getting their needs met, I thought “what can I do.” I was able to bring all parties to the table, sometimes legislation is not always the answer and it’s as simple as people talking. This program started because of the long wait times at the VA and I’m excited to see other areas of the valley following our lead.

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