In the Republican primary race, Susan Syfert will challenge longtime state Reps. David Gowan and David Stevens, who are running as a slate.
After 2012 redistricting, Syfert says, “We found that we didn’t get callbacks, we didn’t get them coming to talk to our elected officials or any of our business people.”
She decided to run for office to give the people of LD14 a “choice for representation.”
Gowan and Stevens, officeholders since 2009, say they enjoy serving their constituents and attend local activities as much as possible when they are not in session.
“It’s the best job I’ve ever had and I love serving,” Gowan said.
Syfert says she has some good ideas for economic growth and rationally evaluating bills.
The platforms of Gowan and Stevens often overlap, evidence of their long years of teamwork. They want to bring in small businesses through deregulation and to promote the free market by fighting legislation like the Affordable Care Act.
All three candidates support school choice.
Arizona’s location next to Mexico should be a trade asset, Syfert says, and she has met with the Mexican consul for the Douglas area to discuss “ideas for increasing the flow of commerce across that port of entry.”
“There are really some great opportunities across the border for legal commerce,” she said.
Gowan and Stevens “want to look into what’s hampering the business community and free them of those hassles.” Part of that entails reducing regulatory burdens on businesses already in the state and enticing more businesses to come to Arizona.
A large part of Gowan’s first term was dedicated to balancing the state budget, and he hopes to be able to maintain that balance in the upcoming term by avoiding overspending.
The three candidates agree federal policy has restricted the lumber industry in Arizona.
Syfert thinks logging companies need more assurances so they can be certain federal policies on logging rights won’t change. She thinks companies will manage the lands responsibly because maintaining long-term business is in their best interest.
“There are a lot of private-industry solutions that don’t cause the taxpayer to bear the burden,” she says of forest management and logging.
Stevens says there could be a lucrative lumber industry if federal regulations would allow more logging. Getting these lands into private citizens’ hands is “a major effort from this Legislature that we’re looking at in the future,” he says.
If she had been in office at the time of the vote, Syfert says she would have supported SB 1070 because federal laws requiring proof of identification already exist, she says.
“I think everybody should be treated the same and it’s just a repeat of federal law,” she says.
Syfert supports legal immigration and says, “I think it should be an easier process.”
Gowan wrote the House version of SB 1070 and both he and Stevens strongly support it.
Stevens says while it is the federal government’s duty to secure the border, the state should apprehend people who cross the border illegally.
Gowan and Stevens already are speaking with other state and federal legislators and constituents about creating action plans to address immigration. They say the federal government needs to step up and do more to secure the borders.
SB 1062 was described by its authors as a religious-freedom bill but seen by opponents as opening the door to discrimination against gays and religious minorities.
Syfert promises constituents she will use a three-part system to evaluate such bills. She will ensure the legislation is constitutional and addresses a current issue. Finally, she will look at the “spinability” of the legislation, ensuring the wording is precise and cannot be spun to mean something different than the intent of the bill.
“We know there is a lot of polarization. People look at things with different lenses,” she said. Thus, it is especially important to look at the intent of the bill and the language used, Syfert says.
For this reason, if she was in office at the time, she would not have voted for SB 1062.
She supports the idea of protecting businesses and business owners’ rights but finds the bill to be addressing an issue that hasn’t come up in Arizona. She also feels the “spinability” is too high.
Gowan and Stevens both voted for the House version of SB 1062. They explained the bill was vetoed as part of a moratorium the first year it was put forward, and at that time, it had not received much attention. Thus the public backlash when it was reintroduced the following year was a surprise.
Gowan says the bill would strengthen religious rights.
“If I don’t want to serve somebody, why should I have to?” Gowan said.
Early ballots will be mailed on Thursday. Primary election day is Aug. 26.
The two winners of the primary race will face Democrat James Burton in the November general election.
Christa Elise Reynolds is a University of Arizona journalism student who is an apprentice at the Star. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org