Many voters will soon receive their ballots by mail.
Those who live in Legislative District 29 will choose their leaders in the Arizona Senate and House of Representatives.
On Sept. 24, two incumbents and three candidates faced off in a virtual “Meet the Candidates” debate sponsored by Arizona Clean Elections.
Moderator Arren Kimble-Sannit asked candidates to name specific goals they would like to implement to improve the district.
Two incumbents, Sen. Martín Quezada and Rep. Richard Andrade, both Democrats, participated in the forum. Fellow Democrat Rep. Cesar Chavez, who is also running for reelection, did not participate.
Republicans Billy Bragg and Helen Fokszanskyj-Conti will be on the ballot for the House of Representatives seats. Republican John Wilson is also on the ballot, running against Quezada.
The three Republican challengers participated in the forum.
Bragg, a 21-year Air Force veteran, minister, father of four and grandfather of two, said his grass roots are what LD 29 needs.
Fokszanskyj-Conti, a resident of Glendale since 1985, said she came to the U.S. as a baby. She said her father was Ukranian and her mother was kidnapped by Germans. She stressed she was not affiliated with any lobby group or any companies.
Wilson said he thinks the Arizona school system is failing students and society. He believes that the “blue collar” approach to an education is a ticket to a better life.
“The reason I’m running is because I want to focus on the local issues; and even though in the Legislature you pass laws that affect everyone, they should be from the perspective of how it affects each individual,” Wilson said.
Quezada said he is a progressive leader committed to serving the community in a troubled time.
“We are at a turning point in our nation right now,” Quezada said. “We are seeing the combination of multiple crises, from the COVID-19 pandemic to institutionalized racism, to the ever-increasing economic inequality, to failed investment in our schools, and the failures of our leaders at the federal and state levels.”
Kimble-Sannit asked the group to share their thoughts on Gov. Doug Ducey’s recent COVID-19-related executive orders regarding reopening the economy.
“We need to take a scientific approach to it and listen to the science about it. As you know, when the numbers are going high—we need to scale back once again,” Andrade said.
Bragg said too much of society was closed.
“We have news people and also progressives scaring people. ... How many people died?” Bragg said. “We don’t know how this virus is spread. We don’t know anything. So we closed down wrong. You closed down schools at the wrong time. Child abuse went up, suicide went up, alcoholism went up—everything went up because of what the government has done.”
Fokszanskyj-Conti stressed, “We can’t shut down for five years. But that’s what the socialists (want to) do. Look at history.”
Wilson said the governor declaring a state of emergency should have brought a special session in the Legislature. “That way, he would have to make the case for the Legislature, and they would either approve or disapprove. And if they disapprove—the emergency is over,” Wilson said.
Quezada said Gov. Doug Ducey was “well within his rights to declare this emergency and to take executive action to deal with that. Now, whether he’s doing a good job, I would agree I don’t think he’s doing the best job out of it, but I don’t believe that we should take away that power,” Quezada said.
Kimble-Sannit posed a question regarding Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel’s call for all law enforcement officials to use body-worn cameras.
“I think body cameras are important. I think that is definitely a feature that I would support,” Quezada said.
He noted the recent death of Dion Johnson, who was shot by a Department of Public Safety officer. “The fact that those officers were not wearing body cameras could have added to the case against them,” Quezada said.
Wilson agreed on body cameras: “I think that it would be a positive thing to have them for everybody—for the general public and for the police officers, too.”
Fokszanskyj-Conti stressed that police officers should be trained on dealing with people who have mental-health problems “and also how to defuse if somebody’s adrenaline is running and they’re scared, and this guy is terribly violent, and they’re overreacting.”
But Bragg said, “The major problem is not with the police officers and it’s not with the training. ... The major problem is that people do not respect—they don’t respect authority.”
Andrade called for accountability: “You need to keep the bad cops off our streets. We need to make sure that bad officers don’t get hired in other police departments in other states.”