A funny thing happened to State Senator Vince Leach’s dream of gerrymandering a district (the new Legislative District 17) to suit his electoral needs for the next decade.
He lost his August 2, 2022, primary to known fringe extremist, radical, and dangerous Trump Republican Justine Wadsack.
A known science denier, devoted Trumpist, and believer in fringe views like thinking the nineteenth-century Arizona law on abortion should be followed, Ms. Wadsack is a Godsend for Democratic Senate Nominee Mike Nickerson, a pastor who wants to bring people together to solve problems at the State Legislature.
His platform of funding public education, protecting a woman’s right to choose, safeguarding a person’s right to vote, helping people get quality/affordable health care, and tackling the water crisis, should appeal to the Independents and disaffected Republicans in the LD 17 who are looking for a viable and mainstream alternative to the Extremist Republican nominee.
Pastor Nickerson graciously took the time to respond to questions about his candidacy for the State Senate.
The questions and his responses are below.
- Please tell the voters what are the three main issues in the legislative race and why they should vote for you over your opponent.
“There’s three that I think are the top issues and my opponent is exactly opposite on each one of them. So, it’s a clear choice. The first one, we must fully fund our public schools. Our legislature has underfunded our public schools for years and which has led to our teacher’s average salary being50th in the nation. The low salary and constant legislative meddling have ended up making teachers look for other careers or leave the state, which results in our present teacher shortage.
With our budget surpluses, it’s not a matter of not having the money. It’s a matter of the legislature choosing other things or not anything at all over our education. Now they’re claiming that because our schools aren’t as good because we don’t have as many teachers, we have to do these universal vouchers. I think it was all a plan that they had. You starve the schools financially until they can’t perform like you want them to, and then you give all this money to private schools because the legislature receives campaign money from corporations who run these schools. Many of them are for-profit and as such, I am sure that when you run education for profit, the profit is the first consideration. Education is the second. My opponent on the other hand supports vouchers and thinks the public schools are awful. She has actually attacked and harassed school boards throughout the state where her children do not attend. She just goes to meetings. To talk about how bad the schools are. My opponent has very few platform plans. Her platform is all about complaining. And so, this is her first complaint and her knee-jerk response is to do vouchers and attack the public school boards.
The second most important is the Supreme Court’s decision to cancel Roe, which left abortion up to this state legislature. As a pastor, I’ve actually counseled many women on this issue. And sometimes it’s the right choice. Present abortion laws don’t allow for the health of the mother or rape or incest. They just want to totally ban it. It’s a far too intricate and complex issue for the legislature to take on. And so, because of that, I think these are medical issues and we should protect patient-doctor privacy and not make any government mandates because that’s what these laws are. My opponent wants government mandates against allowing women to have abortions, regardless of whether it’s the best for the health of the woman and the family. She wants to mandate that all women must have forced births.
The third is protecting our voting rights. Our legislature has been working hard on trying to find ways to limit the way Arizona citizens can vote. Mail ballots have been very popular in Arizona. A lot of people use them. In fact, they were instituted by a Republican legislature in 1998 and have been expanded until they realized that the majority doesn’t want to vote for them anymore and now they’re trying to cut back on the ability to vote and decrease voter participation rather than doing what a good democracy does, which is to hear the voice of all the people and allow increased voter participation. States that have universal mail-in ballots have increased their voter participation and there has been no fraud in those cases. We need to do that. We’re going in the wrong direction. My opponent is just the opposite. She doesn’t want a lot of people to vote. Even when the votes are in, she wants to be able to change them. She believes that Trump won the 2020 election, even after all of the audits, including the one by the Arizona Senate and over 60 court cases coming to the conclusion that he lost, but she still believes in the Big Lie and perpetrates it. She is a good Trump minion, she’s not for voting rights. She’s for voting suppression.
Three very clear choices. People can choose whether they want good public education or not. They can choose whether they think women and doctors can make the best decision or the government should. If they think women and doctors can do that, they should vote for me. If they think the government should decide that they can vote for her. And if they want to have a good voting system in which all of the citizens of Arizona participate, they need to vote for me. If they want to have a voting system that suppresses votes and then after the vote’s done, if they don’t like it, try to change it, then she’s your person. There are three very clear differences between us and clear reasons I think why they should vote for me.”
- Please describe your campaign strategy to reach voters in a new LD, including Independents and disaffected Republicans.
“Well, it’s a difficult district to strategize in because it’s, as Tim Steller said, the most gerrymandered district in Arizona. We go from Vail, Rita Ranch, Civano, Tanque Verde, and the east side of Tucson, then the district goes over the mountain and continues through Saddlebrook Ranch, Saddlebrooke, Catalina, Oro Valley, Marana, and Picture Rocks. So, it’s really hard to bring everybody together but I have been focused on talking to voters and encouraging everyone to vote.
Is there anything not covered in the first two questions that you would like the readers to know about you and your candidacy for the State Senate? Please explain.
“I think we need to discuss climate change.
Right now, we at least are making progress federally on climate change with a new bill without any Republican votes. We have to be careful about our climate change because we’re in a drought and it’ll just get worse in Arizona, the legislature needs to develop a comprehensive plan on groundwater and surface water.
Right now, we regulate surface water pretty well. The groundwater, we only have three limited districts and most of the state is not in any of those regulated districts. This is allowing the Saudis to pump east of Vail, huge amounts of water. And they’re growing alfalfa, which is a high-water crop for cash, without us having any say in how much water they take. The farmers of Arizona need to reduce the water. I think the legislature ought to help them because agriculture counts for 70 to 75% of our water needs. And there are methods by which we can grow the same crops or we can choose better crops that will make our water conservation much better. For example, Isreal has developed irrigation systems that take about this one-tenth of the amount of water to raise the same crops as we do. The legislature needs to increase funding for the extension service of the U of A to increase the acceptance of new irrigation techniques. We then ought to help the farmers adapt better irrigation systems through grants. This will allow our farmers to continue to produce their crops rather than having their land go fallow. We also need conservation measures in our towns and cities. We need to deal with water. It’s the elephant in the room for our future. And I don’t see the legislature doing much right now, except throwing money for ideas. That’s all that money was this year. The billion dollars was for “let’s explore stuff.” We have to work on conservation now.”
Please click on the below social media sites for more information on Mike Nickerson and his candidacy for the Arizona State Senate in the new LD 17.
Facebook, Mike Nickerson for AZ
Instagram, Mike Nickerson for AZ
Justine Wadsack has not responded to the RSVP for the LD 17 Citizens Clean Elections Commission debate on Monday, August 29. Stay tuned:
LD17 Candidate Debate
Brian Radford (yes)
Cory Mcgarr (no response)
Dana Allmond (yes)
Justine Wadsack (no response)
Mike Nickerson (yes)
Rachel Jones (yes)
https://www.youtube.com/user/AZCCEC/live Submit Debate Question