Democrats need to flip only two seats in the Arizona Senate and only five seats in State House for Democrats to get parity with the Republicans. Democratic candidates Ralph Atchue for State Senate and Retired Air Force Colonel Hollace Lyon for State House in LD11 spelled out the winning issues that will carry them into office in November.
They spoke recently at a rousing meeting of Democrats of Greater Tucson.
- Funding public education. “Access to quality public education is Arizona’s economic driver. The state has abdicated its responsibility to fund public education. It’s been left to cities, counties and school districts to raise taxes,” Atchue said.
- Cutting corporate tax giveaways. “74% of corporations in Arizona pay the minimum of $50 a year in income tax,” Lyon said. “We have $12 to $14 billion that we’re giving away in tax loopholes in this state. The more companies we invite here, the more tax breaks we give them. We don’t put sunset clauses on our tax incentives. They’ve been accumulating for decades. We need to go back and see if they are still giving us a return on investment.”
- Access to affordable healthcare. “We support opening up Medicaid, AHCCS (state health care coverage) and CHIP (children’s healthcare insurance). We’ve gotten locked into employer-controlled healthcare, and if we can start moving away from that and it would be a benefit,” Atchue said.
- Jobs that pay well. “If you give a person a job where they feel good about themselves, they will become invested in the community and are better contributors. They feel a sense of dignity. It’s unfair to need three jobs to make ends meet. They never get enough time to spend with their kids. We need good jobs, fair wages, and a comprehensive program to let that happen to everybody,” Lyon said.
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They also called for Outlawing Dirty Money in campaign contributions and establishing real ethics in government. “The state doesn’t follow through on conflicts of interest. Andy Tobin was appointed to the Arizona “Corruption Commission” (Corporation Commission). His son works for one of the companies he oversees. This is a conflict of interest. So the state legislature decided to make an ethics decision and they changed the definition of conflict of interest to allow that,” Atchue said.
Atchue is an Air Force veteran and a seasoned campaigner, having worked in many Arizona political campaigns, for Ann Kirkpatrick, for Tom O’Halleran, and including his state senate run in 2016. Ralph is distinctly aware of the issues facing Arizona’s middle-class families and small business community and will work to rebuild the middle class.
Colonel Lyon commanded twice, served at NATO Headquarters in Belgium, as well as at the Pentagon. She served as a state senate campaign manager in 2012 and in 2014 and ran for the Legislature herself. Lyon is serving her second term as Chair of the Saddlebrooke Democratic Club. Since 2015, she has also served as the Senior Vice Chair of the Arizona Democratic Party.
“Education is the #1 issue,” Lyon said. “If our children are not educated into being critical thinkers, then we cannot sustain a democracy.”
“In education, we have Profit-and-Power versus People-and-Democracy,” she said. “The power brokers want to break the public education system to prove they can swing in the with profiteers and their charter schools. There are two problems with that.”
“They don’t want to educate all the children. They don’t want children with special needs because it costs too much and they can’t make a profit on that. There are focusing on the students that are easy and cheap.”
“The profiteers spend two to three times as much per student as public schools are given to educate our children. But they don’t have full accountability and transparency for how they’re educating those children.”
“Then we have the power people and their ideologies, who think that education has been too ‘liberal.’ That’s because we believe in introducing our children to sex education, climate change, and evolution,” Lyon said.
Ethics in government
Both pledged to end the rampant ethics violations in the state government.
The deceptively-named Arizona Corporation Commission, which is the state electric utility regulator, has been a cesspool of corruption that has crushed the incentives for homeowners to install rooftop solar panels.
Last year former Commission chairman Gary Pierce was indicted for taking bribes of $31,000 and property from a utility owner for Pierce’s vote in favor of a rate increase.
“My first piece of legislation will be to establish ethics in government,” Lyon said. “The idea never got anywhere because it was floated by the Democrats, who are in the minority. When I was in the Air Force, I wasn’t allowed to accept any gifts. I negotiated $200 million in savings in an Air Force contract with Microsoft. I didn’t accept a pen or coffee mug from Microsoft. I didn’t let them give me lunch on the lawn. Tiny things like that eat away at your integrity.”
Atchue said he would create an Ethics Committee in the State Senate. “There isn’t one,” he said. “We need to take a look at what’s going on with the Arizona Corporation Commission and a lot of other things.”
Making a blue wave happen
“I hear a lot about blue wave this election cycle,” Atchue said. “But it won’t happen unless we put our hearts and souls, money, shoe leather and energy to make it happen. Let’s make this happen.”
“Education, economy and environment are too important to sit out this election. We’ve been brainwashed — Republicans do not own the color red, Republicans don’t own patriotism or the American flag. The Democrats have the right answers for what is important to middle class working families and small businesses across this state.”