LD 23 State Senate Candidate Seth Blattman wants to create a better life for his nephew and the other children of Arizona
Arizona Legislative District 23 is a potential opportunity for Democratic Party gains in 2020.
The district includes all or parts of Scottsdale, Fountain Hills, Paradise Valley, and Rio Verde.
2018 House Candidate Eric Kurland is running again to challenge Jay Lawrence and John Kavanagh for one of the district’s two House seats.
Political newcomer Seth Blattman is looking to persuade the voters in the district that his governing vision is preferable and more appealing than incumbent Michelle Ugenti-Rita, a person who distinguished herself in the last legislative session by advocating legislation that would suppress the ability for voters to drop off their mail-in ballots at voting locations on election day.
Running on a forward program that involves investing in public education, a Twenty-First Century Economy, and government accountability, Mr. Blattman graciously sat down at the Schmooze Café in Scottsdale to discuss his background and the ideas he would bring to the Senate if elected.
The questions and his responses are below
1) Please tell the reader about yourself (education and experiences).
“I grew up in Scottsdale. I have my bachelor’s in poly sci and minor in philosophy from ASU. My MBA from UCLA. I’ve spent most of my professional life working for Forest Designs, a furniture manufacturing company my father started. During the height of the great recession, I came home to help turn this business around. We’ve had great success since then and, as its President, I currently manage a staff of 30 in the factory, seven in the office and five in the stores.”
“Over the last several years I’ve had the opportunity to become more and more involved in local government. I was honored to be appointed to the Citizen’s Bond Oversight Commission for the City of Scottsdale. Also in the last several years, my family had its first new addition in 30 years with the birth of my nephew. He is now three and having that little guy around makes me focus on the future. It makes me focus on the kind of world all of our children will be growing up in.”
2) Please tell the reader what are at least three qualifications you have for the Legislative seat you are seeking.
“I know how to institute reform that takes a long view. I’ve done it before when I turned around a 25-year-old business that needed a new path. It requires having the imagination and will to make fundamental changes. That means making hard choices. I know how to implement continuous improvement. I know how to negotiate. I know how to shoulder the responsibility of people depending on me to guarantee their livelihoods.”
“I love this community. I grew up here. My family is raising the next generation here. I know what we need, where we can improve and what it will take in order to succeed at a higher level.”
I’m civically minded and involved at the local level. I believe in public service. I’m a precinct committeeperson in LD23 and I understand the issues facing our district and our state.
3) What are at least two reasons you would be a better public servant than your likely Republican opponent?
“We all know we live in an amazing state, top in the country. And we’ve had more or less the same representatives for a decade. But what have they done for us? Bottom five in education, bottom five in healthcare. Where’s our return on investment? What is their grand vision for our community? My life experience has taught me how to make long term sustained change. I’m not going to look at things from a one year, two year, or four-year perspective but rather a 10 year, 20 year, or 40 year one.”
“I will look out for the best interests of my constituency. I have no interests other than that. This is what the job is supposed to be. My campaign will focus on education, building a modern economy, and accountability in government.”
4) If elected, please describe the top two education issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“The number one issue is providing the proper amount of funding needed in our school system. It is unsustainable to continue to lag behind almost every other state in this country in per pupil spending. We need to begin addressing this by restoring funding back to pre-recession levels. Then we must ask ourselves what do we want for the future our state and does our current treatment of education reflect this.”
“We need to codify a number of educational standards across the State. That means the charter school system should have the same level of accountability that public schools have. I am very disheartened by the accounts in the news of charter school abuses.”
5) If elected, please describe the top two healthcare issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“I’d break down my answer into two parts; access and affordability.”
“If you want health insurance, you should be able to have it. It’s important that people don’t get kicked off their insurance plans nor be denied coverage because of a preexisting condition. The healthier Arizona is, the better off we all are.”
“With regards to affordability, we need to recognize that unexpected medical bills are one of the main reasons people go into bankruptcy. Nobody should have to choose between paying rent and paying for a procedure they need. I think making major improvements in the realm of transparency will improve the system and cut costs. We need to be building towards that world-class healthcare system that we all want.”
6) If elected, please describe the top two sustainability issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“We can make Arizona the solar capital of the world. We need to recognize that solar power will soon be cheaper than fossil fuels. On that day, as an economic imperative, the world will switch to solar. We have more days of sunlight than nearly anywhere else. When this day comes do we want to be ahead of the curve or playing catch up? Do we want to be selling solar panels or buying them?”
“We should never have to worry about whether or not the air our kid’s breath and the water they drink is hurting them. We should be wary of any politician talking to you about rolling back regulations on clean air and water.”
7) If elected, please describe the top two helping children issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“This brings us back to our earlier discussion on education – fully funding public schools should be our number one priority. Schools that offer up to date textbooks and technology, reasonably sized classes, and enough guidance counselors so every student understands that they too can attend college and what steps they must pursue in order to get there.”
“We need to eliminate childhood poverty from our consciousness as a phenomenon that just happens. We have the means to make sure that no child goes hungry or lives without healthcare.”
8) If elected, please describe the top two helping the most vulnerable issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“Homelessness is rising in the valley. We need to continue to finance programs that reach out to the less fortunate and provide transitional housing and job training programs. Not only is it the right thing to do, but these programs also end up saving money for our state.”
“We need to recognize the opioid epidemic as a public health issue. Part of this means revisiting how we think about addiction and those who suffer from it. These are victims and I think we probably all know a family that has been affected by it.”
9) If elected, please describe the top two law enforcement issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“In our modern world, we sometimes take our safety for granted. It’s important that we remember the debt of gratitude we owe the men and women serving and protecting our communities. One way to act on this sentiment is to ensure there is funding in place that provides law enforcement with the most modern tools. This includes ongoing training. We need to make sure that our men and women in uniform have all the resources they need to effectively do their jobs.”
“I also encourage Scottsdale residents to vote yes on all three bond measures on the November 2019 ballot. In addition to investing in public safety and technology, they also provide overdue funds for parks, recreation and senior services, as well as community spaces and infrastructure improvements.”
10) If elected, please describe the top two immigration issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“We should be humbled by the desire of so many people who want to come to our country and recognize the benefits they provide. America has welcomed people like Einstein and the founders of Google and I believe the talent we gain from people coming from overseas is a competitive advantage we should cherish.”
“America is a country of morals and values. We stand for something both noble and good here and abroad. We need to make sure that children aren’t separated from their families. There has to be a better way of processing refugee families fleeing violent situations.”
11) If elected, please describe the top issues facing women, minorities, and the LGBTQ communities that you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“I think a lot of people under a certain age think this is a curious question. The idea that there is a difference between men and women, LGBTQ and straight, communities of color… I grew up in a time and environment that the equality of these groups is a fact of life.”
“Unfortunately, the remnants of a different time still exist. We all know about the gender pay gap and the existence of this phenomenon as it relates to other disempowered communities. It’s great that we’ve progressed from women making 60 or 70 cents on the dollar to 86 cents on the dollar, but it is the job of legislators to focus on the road ahead and go after those remaining 14 cents until we build a society that gives equal pay for equal work.”
“I also think it’s important to recognize that improving education, our economy, and healthcare in our state will stand to benefit everyone.”
12) If elected, please describe the top two government reform issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“We need to get money out of politics. Campaign finance reform is the first step in addressing so many of the other issues we face. We need a government that works on behalf of all people and not just those who donated the most money.”
“We also need to keep an eye out for people losing their right to vote through new legislation. New laws putting limits on our most sacred franchise should be required to have more substantial reasoning behind them than we need to get the results quicker. Anyone attempting to make it more difficult for people to express their will at the ballot box, and then going on to blame these victims of voter suppression, is acting in an indefensible manner. The right to vote is what, at its most basic level, defines a democracy. I am for solutions that make voting a simple and convenient process for all.”
13) Are there any issues not mentioned in the previous questions that you feel should be addressed by the Legislature.
“We need to focus on building a 21st-century economy in this state. Funding education and attracting high-quality jobs is how we will remain competitive moving forward. I have so many friends that left Arizona to seek their dream jobs elsewhere. This brain drain is a major economic problem. We need to retain our hardworking educated young people by offering them the opportunity to pursue careers of the highest caliber.”
14) Is there anything you would like to let the reader know about yourself that has not been addressed by the previous questions.
“We just launched our website sethblattman.com and we are in the middle of planning our campaign kickoff event for some time in early November. Everyone should come because you would get to meet my amazing three-year-old nephew Jake, he’s the one in the Santa suit on the website.”
As a State Senator, Ms. Ugenti-Rita has generally championed conservative positions including voting:
- For a budget that put tax cuts over more investments in public education.
- Against promoting HIV education.
- Against penalizing drivers for using their cell phones while driving.
- Supporting voting suppression measures at prohibiting people from dropping off their mail-in ballots at the voting precincts.
When she was a State House member, she supported:
- Allowing non-lethal weapons on college campuses.
- No campaign finance donation disclosures.
- Stifling the ballot initiative process.
- Allowing firearm sales without background checks.
- More restrictions on a woman’s right to choose.
Mr. Blattman would offer a different, forward-looking, open, and inclusive direction for the people of Legislative District 23.
The voters should consider where he stands on the critical issues facing the district and state and compare that to his opponent’s positions when considering who to vote for in November 2020.
For more information on Mr. Blattman and his candidacy, please click on his website here and his Facebook Page here.