Barack Obama (DEM)
I would rather vote for the Green party candidate, Jill Stein, since she is a better match on the specific issues I care about. Normally, any non-Republican vote in AZ is a wasted vote, anyway, and so why not vote for a 3rd party? In this case, though, Obama is surprisingly close. No, he won’t win AZ… but he may get enough votes to at least wake up the political establishment here. That’s worth a vote.
Also, I cannot fundamentally understand those people that would vote for Romney. I just don’t get it at all. He is just a horrible candidate all the way around. I took one of those political “matching” quizes and discovered that I have a 9% match with Romney. Nearly every part of that 9% is for inconsequential things. Just terrible.
Richard Carmona (DEM)
Carmona is a pretty decent choice, as far as candidates go. I like that he is an Independent. Yes, he’s registered Democrat now, but that is only to give him even a tiny chance of competing. This is going to be a tough sell, since this position always goes to a Republican and Flake is pretty popular. Flake is a terrible choice. He has a solid voting record as a far right Republican — quite a bit more to the right than the outgoing Kyl. We need far less of those type of Representatives and Senators.
US Representative, District 5
Salmon is a Tea Party candidate, which immediately takes him out of the running in my book. But his opponent is some 26 year old kid currently going to Mesa Community College (Spencer Morgan). There is no way some 26 year old has enough life experience to be a US Representative.
State Senator, District 12
Andy Biggs is running unopposed. I’m not sure why he, Petersen, and Farnsworth have signs up all over town. What’s the point?
State Representative, District 12
Petersen and Farnsworth are running unopposed. They are part of the trinity of Biggs, Petersen, and Farnsworth. Three ways of looking at the same guy.
Marcia Busching (DEM)
Sandra Kennedy (DEM)
Paul Newman (DEM)
This is the “Solar Team”. I don’t really know anything about Busching, but Kennedy and Newman are incumbents and are doing a fine job. I wholeheartedly agree with their take that AZ needs to become a leader in solar energy. I can’t say I’m a fan of their current election strategy of criticizing the Republican goal to create a trash incinerator to use for power. Those can actually be a very useful tool to use in a comprehensive energy strategy and rejecting them without a full review seems short-sighted. On the other hand, Stump and Bitter Smith are nearly anti-solar and Burns is a global warming denier. At least none of them think that coal is a “renewable resource”, like one Republican candidate did the last time around. I can find very little info on the 3rd party candidates.
County Board of Supervisors, District 2
David Ortega (DEM)
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is a running joke, with all of the infighting and lawsuits and fights with other departments. Both Churcri and Ortega are new and are making a point of trying to settle the department down. I don’t have a big objection to either. I’m not sure what to make of Churcri talking about how the EPA doesn’t know how hard it is to measure air pollution in the valley, though. Is that his way of saying that we shouldn’t have such stringent air quality standards? If so, then that’s lunacy in a city that practically invented the word “smog”. Ortega, meanwhile, seems pretty up on promoting Green Building standards and the like. It’s not a huge difference, but it’s enough to give Ortega the nod.
Keith Russell (REP)
I’m not sure why this is a partisan election. Where does a political affiliation come in? I am worried that Russell is recommended by the Tea Party, which is usually a kiss of death in my book. Still, I have found no reasons to think he’s been doing a bad job and he is running unopposed, so he gets my vote.
Michael Kielsky (LBT)
If there ever was a position ideally suited for a Libertarian, it’s a public attorney position. His tag line of “No Victim, No Crime, No Fine, No Time” sums it up for me. Absolutely!
Montgomery, on the other hand, is recommended by both the Tea Party and Arpaio. He wants to bust medical marijuana patients and dispensaries, even though we voted to allow them in the last election. He also doesn’t think that Roe V. Wade means that AZ can’t ban all abortions. What a terrible choice.
Helen Purcell (REP)
I’m very leery about any Republican in charge of elections, based on the frequency of election fraud whenever they are in charge. But in this case, Purcell has been the Maricopa Recorder since 1989 and has an unimpeachable record. She is the very definition of a “dedicated public servant.” This is an easy one.
County School Superintendent
Don Covey (REP)
I haven’t heard anything bad about Covey. He appears to be a dedicated educator and, as far as I can tell, is doing a fine job as superintendent.
Paul Penzone (DEM)
Arpaio simply has to go. He’s been an embarrassment to this state, at best, and a terrible terrible lawman at worst. Penzone seems like a solid candidate who can actually restore some credibility and dignity to the Maricopa Sheriff’s office. Stauffer is running as an Independent, which is usually a plus in my book. In this case, though, he’s clearly a Republican running as a spoiler to reduce Penzone’s chances. This pisses me off to no end. He’s going to siphon off just enough votes from Penzone that even though Arpaio will get a minority of votes, for the first time, he’s still going to win.
Charles Hoskins (REP)
How is this a partisan position? Hoskins appears to be doing a fine job, either way.
Justice of the Peace, Highland
Steve Urie (REP)
There is some concern that he will have a conflict of interest since the JP position often hears cases that will be brought up by the property management company that he owns. Still, he’s a well-liked guy and I can’t see any significant reason to vote against him. Note: I’m always bothered that judge positions can be partisan.
Phil Freestone (REP)
I’m not sure why this is even an elected position, much less one that is partisan.
Central AZ Water Conservation District
Robin Elizabeth Bain
This is an unpaid non-partisan position, yet there is quite a bit of politics involved. Choosing five from the list is mostly about removing, not promoting, possibilities. Only Carpenter and Bain appear to be solid choices. On the flip side, Burns and Goddard offer up no info on their plans; Atkins runs as a Republican, even though this is non-partisan; Thom and Brickman are both with the Tea Party; Macre has been in AZ for only four years; McGrath may not actually be running for this race; and Mecum is just an incredible joke (how does this guy stay in the public eye, with so many scandals?)
Maricopa County Special Health Care District, District 2
This is a toss-up between Rumer-Rivera and Cuendet, since both seem like fine candidates. I’m giving the nod to Rumer-Rivera if only because he comes across as a very thoughtful guy. I couldn’t find very much about Cuendet’s positions.
School Governing Board Member, Gilbert Unif No 41
I’m not a fan of these three, mostly because they all were part of the closing of Gilbert Jr High School. That may or may not have been a good idea, but what was a terrible idea was how little info they presented the public about it. I’d want to vote them out just for that… except that the alternative is Colvin and Smith. Colvin and Smith are both heavily promoted by the Tea Party and that’s always a kiss of death for me.
School Governing Board Member, Gilbert Unif No 41
Simply put, Johnson is a Tea Party candidate and Humpherys actually wants to prioritize spending on education. It’s telling that Humpherys’ critics mostly complain about how she thinks that our public education system isn’t well funded.
Budget Override Continuation
Our schools need the money, and it needs to come from somewhere. Notably, the Tea Party opposes this. I cannot understand how they think that our schools are over-funded, when they are so much the opposite.
Town of Gilbert Council Member
Sentz has done a fine job as council member. Taylor is a Tea Party candidate, who has publicly stated that he will refuse any matching federal grants. Typical.
Justice of the Supreme Court
John Pelander – Yes
Pelander was appointed by Brewer, which is a black mark, but he’s opposed by the Tea Party, which is always a good thing. The Tea Party is mad at him because he allowed Prop 121 to be on the ballot. His JPR scores are excellent.
Judges of the Court of Appeals, Division I
Margaret Downie – Yes
Donn Kessler – Yes
Patricia Norris – Yes
Maurice Portley – No (Doesn’t meet standards)
Peter Swann – No (Poor score in legal ability)
All of the above are opposed by the Tea Party, but only the first three have acceptable JPR scores.
Judges of the Superior Court
Note: All the following are ‘No’. Everybody else is ‘Yes’
John Hannah Jr
The first five were all rated poorly by JPR. The next eight were all well liked by the Tea Party, but didn’t have good enough JPR scores to justify keeping them. Brnovich is endorsed by the Tea Party, but I was actually a juror on one of her trials and she was an excellent judge. Buttrick, Kemp, Klein, Udall, Thompson, Sanders, McMurdie, McCoy, Kiley, and Coury were all endorsed as well, but had excellent JPR scores.
Prop 114: No
Crime Victim Protection from Liability
This prohibits anybody committing a felony to sue the victim of the crime, if said felonious individual was hurt by negligence on the part of the victim. It is a constitutional amendment proposed by the legislature.
This seems okay on the surface, but just doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. It’s taking away some constitutionally protected rights and for what? What’s the benefit that out weighs the cost? The only letter in support of this listed a case where a burglar sued a homeowner after falling on the knife in the homeowner’s kitchen. If that sounds familiar, it’s because that was part of the movie “Liar Liar”. The proponents of this amendment can’t even come up with a case where it would apply, in the real world.
I went looking for real world cases and did come up with a few. There are two notable ones, in particular. The first was a case in WI, where a burglar (with a gun) was shot by a homeowner and sued. This was thrown out of court by the judge. In this case, I do think it’s ridiculous that the felon could sue the homeowner in the first place, but the case was thrown out so it’s not like he was successful. In fact, I could not find a single case where a felon successfully sued a homeowner in a case like this.
I did find a counter-case, though. In Harris v Ingram, Harris broke into Ingram’s bar a bunch of times and stole stuff. Ingram was (justifiably) very angry about that and so he created a death trap in the window that Harris used to break in. That is, he wired up the window with 220v — easily enough to kill anybody that touched it. He put up a hand lettered sign to that effect, but it’s not clear that it was even visible. Harris came by to rob the place, touched the window, and was electrocuted. Ingram was cleared criminally but Harris’ family sued in civil court. They won $75,000. I agree with that verdict. In this case, Ingram wasn’t acting in self defense and he created a case where he executed a man in cold blood just because he robbed his store. That’s not okay. Unfortunately, when 114 passes, people like Ingram will be let off the hook. That’s fundamentally unfair and justice is not served.
Prop 115: No!
Another legislature sponsored constitutional amendment. This has quite a few clauses and I agree with more than a couple of them. It comes down to cost vs benefit. In this case, the “cost” is that it gives the executive branch a lot more power in selecting judges. Specifically, it removes the “merit based” process of selecting judges in favor of one that is fundamentally party based. It will attempt to destroy the independent judiciary and replace it with judges firmly in the pocket of a small group of powerful people. No! A thousand times, no!
Prop 116: No
Personal Business Property Tax Exemption Amount
This is not an obvious one. It’s billed as a “Small Business Job Creation Act”, but as far as I can tell, it mostly benefits larger businesses. A constitutional amendment that primarily benefits large businesses — what a surprise! Well, it’ll cost an estimated $170 million in 2014. Who loses? Counties. This tax is levied by the county, so it’ll be a huge hit to the already cash-strapped county governments. Who wins? Mostly big businesses with a huge amount of capitalized equipment. But… yes, it will help some small businesses, as well. That’s what makes this non-obvious.
In the end, it’s a constitutional amendment that gives yet another tax cut to big business. The fact that it will also help a small number of small businesses isn’t enough to out weigh that.
Prop 117: No
Property Tax Assessed Value Limit
Caps property tax increases to 5%. Because of our skyrocketing property values, see? Remember those?
Why are we being asked for a constitutional amendment to fight a problem that doesn’t exist, yet artificially restricts what can be done in the future? No benefit with too high a cost.
Prop 118: Yes
Permanent State Land Endowment Fund, Distribution
The state has a Permanent Endowment Fund that was established back in 1910 to produce revenue for schools, colleges, hospitals, etc. Profits from the $3.5B fund are distributed via a formula established all those years ago. This ratio is designed to keep the fund stable, and varies depending on if the year was good or not.
This constitutional amendment makes the distribution higher and more stable. It’s the higher part that’s problematic. This is a PERMANENT fund and if it’s sucked dry just because the legislature keeps funneling our money to businesses and the rich, then it would have been wasted. Yet… times are tough, now, and it’s the schools that are hurting, not the wealthy. Maybe it would be okay for now?
Prop 119: Yes
State Land Trust Exchanges
It’s a constitutional amendment, but it’s a necessary one. This is also related to the State Trust land. Basically, the constitution doesn’t allow for any part of it to be exchanged for equivalent or better private land, even if it’s in the best interest of the trust. There have been many attempts to rectify this in the past, but all attempts have failed. This is the best attempt yet. It ensures that any exchange will be in the best interest of the trust AND is fully transparent to the public. It’s about time.
Prop 120: Hell No!
Let’s Start a New Civil War
How is this even on the ballot? It is an attempt to claim “state sovereignty” over air, water, land, etc within the state. That is to say, the Federal government can’t tell us what to do with our land. Except… of course they can. The idea that we can just say “we’re not going to follow Federal laws” and that’s that is just ludicrous. It used to be that you’d only hear things like this coming from some guy wearing a tin-foil hat sitting in his mobile home out in the desert by Yuma. To have it on the ballot is just mind blowing.
Prop 121: No
Top Two Primaries
This opens up the primaries to all voters, and then takes the top two vote getters to compete during the general elections. There’s a lot to like about this idea, not the least of which is that both the Republican and Democrat leadership hate it. Anything that takes power away from the established power brokers is a good thing. Proponents of this prop say that it will open up more changes for Independents, that it will reduce extremism in the major parties, and that it will cause people to vote more in the primaries. We don’t have to take their word for it, though — there are already multiple states that have enacted this and we can see empirically what happened. In short, none of the touted benefits have surfaced. In CA, the only independents to make it to the general election were personally wealthy; some districts had multiple (extreme) members from one party, even though the districts were pretty evenly mixed; and the turnout for the primaries were at all time lows.
The current election process has serious flaws in it and reform is definitely needed. Unlike Prop 204 (later), though, there are better alternatives to this. It’s better to hold out for true reform than to pass this ineffective measure.
Prop 204: Yes (Tentative)
Make the 1% Education Sales Tax Permanent
There is a lot to like about this and a lot to dislike. It’s not as obvious as some of the others.
At the core, AZ is one of the worst states in the nation for funding and supporting K-12. We absolutely cannot trust that the legislature will ever elevate education to a proper level. Making the 1% sales tax permanent would guarantee a baseline of money (on the order of $750M) that the legislature simply can’t touch. That can only be a good thing.
On the other hand, it does this with a sales tax, which is the most regressive of all taxes. This is effectively a tax increase that will mostly hurt lower income families and spare those that can most afford it. Also, 20% of this money goes to various special interest groups, which infuriates me. This includes highway funds. What does that have to do with education? Finally, handling budget items via ‘mandate by ballot’ sets a dangerous precedent. Yes, we can’t trust the legislature to give education the priority it needs, but trusting a ballot process for this may be possibly worse.
In the end, this sales tax makes me deeply uncomfortable. Surely there must be a better way to handle it! But what? Opponents to 204 spend all their time saying how bad this is, but never offer up a better solution. This may be a poor solution to a serious problem, but it is at least A solution.