In the Arizona State Senate and House of Representatives primary election, Legislative District 20 seats are on the ballot.
Incumbent Paul Boyer of Glendale was the only Republican to file and Douglas Ervin of Phoenix was the only Democrat to file for the state Senate position in District 20.
Incumbents Anthony Kern of Glendale and Shawnna Bollick of Phoenix were the only two Republicans to file for the two state representatives of District 20. Judy Schwiebert of Phoenix filed as a Democrat for District 20.
The Glendale Star emailed questions to candidates about their priorities and plans. Here are the answers of those who replied:
Please briefly describe your background including any relevant education and work history.
Paul Boyer: I grew up here in the district I now represent. I earned both my degrees from ASU West and am going into my seventh year as a high school history and literature teacher. I also served on House majority staff at the Legislature for three years along with communications for Arizona’s largest school district until I was first elected to the Legislature.
Douglas Ervin: My parents, an Air Force captain and nursing teacher, moved my family to Arizona when I was 3 years old, and they instilled in me the value of hard work, respect, family, integrity and civic responsibility. They insisted that education was always a top priority in our family, but they were unable to afford my college tuition. So, I started working at the age of 13, earned my accounting degree in night school, and passed the CPA exam. I was a corporate tax auditor, small-business accountant, financial consultant, software architect and helped grow a local company into an international firm. Over the years I have volunteered with multiple educational, environmental and community organizations, including as a tutor for second-graders at a local public school.
Shawnna Bollick: I studied public policy as an undergraduate student and in graduate school with an emphasis on two areas: environmental and education policy. I have worked for several nonprofits and have volunteered in my kids’ public schools since they were in preschool. My oldest is a freshman at Arizona State University and my youngest child attends a local district high school. Prior to getting elected in 2018 to the Arizona House, I was fortunate enough to have served on the Arizona State Board of Education’s Academic Standards Development Committee as a public high school parent and I was appointed by the governor to Arizona’s Early Childhood Education and Healthy Board. I have served in various leadership roles within my kids’ public school parenting boards and to various community-based organizations.
Anthony Kern: For the past six years, I have been honored to represent the citizens of Legislative District 20 in the Arizona House of Representatives. Last session, I accepted the position of Rules chairperson and I was very pleased to help set legislative priorities. In 2006 I earned a college degree in business, which assists me in making important and sound economic decisions each day in the Legislature. In the past, I have worked for several municipal governments, which helps me to fully understand how local government operates. I am a certified peace officer and trained at the Glendale Law Enforcement Training Academy at Glendale.
Judy Schwiebert: My parents moved our family from the East Coast to Maryvale when I was 6 years old. My dad, a shop teacher at Maryvale High School, and my mom, a writer, instilled in me the importance of education, integrity, and treating people with love and respect. After high school, I attended Glendale Community before getting married. My husband and I then worked our way through Arizona State University, had children, and moved to the Northwest Valley near Sunburst Farms, where both our sons had great public school educations in the Washington Elementary District, their dad and I taught at Greenway High School, and we spent our free time at soccer and Little League games, and participating in community theater. Later, I moved to Cactus High School, where I was teacher-librarian for 20 years. During that time, I was a co-founder of Theater Works, served on the board there for many years, and helped organize tours around the country and world for Kids Alive, the youth performing group. Since then, I’ve served on the board of my church, directed a community wellness center, taught yoga, and co-founded a successful nonpartisan group where people concerned about issues like education and health care came together to take positive action to advocate for their values.
What neighborhood do you live in and for how long have you lived there?
Douglas Ervin: My family moved to the Valley when I was 3 years old after my father left the Air Force. I have lived in multiple parts of Legislative District 20 and for the last seven years at our current home near Lookout Mountain.
Paul Boyer: My wife and I live in Sunset Palms near ASU West, and we’ve lived here for over two years.
Judy Schwiebert: I’ve spent all my adult life in the Northwest Valley. I lived for 15 years near Greenway High School and then moved to my current home just north of Moon Valley, where I’ve been ever since.
Shawnna Bollick: We have called Phoenix home since 2001.
Anthony Kern: I have lived in the Sahuaro City Council District in the city of Glendale for over 20 years. I loved the neighborhood and enjoyed living there. My wife and I enjoy the surrounding community very much.
Why did you choose to live here?
Paul Boyer: Because I love Glendale. I grew up here.
Douglas Ervin: The Northwest Valley is a wonderful microcosm of Arizona’s diversity of people, environments and opportunities. Our neighborhood has families that have lived in Arizona for generations who helped grow our community along with people who have just moved here drawn by all that we have to offer. My family and I love the amazing number of different types of restaurants with wonderful food representing cultures from all over the world that are here. We also like the many recreational options for hiking, golf, skating, disc golf, cycling and running all within Legislative District 20.
Anthony Kern: I chose to live in the Sahuaro District because it was a pleasant place to live and raise my children. The schools in the area were top notch and my sons were provided an excellent academic experience. I have loved the city of Glendale and have been active in my community the entire time I have lived here.
Shawnna Bollick: Our family lives in North Phoenix, where my children have attended high school. We love the warmth of our neighbors in the Moon Valley neighborhood and access to nearby hiking trails.
Judy Schwiebert: We first moved here because my husband got a teaching job at Greenway HIgh School and we wanted to live close to work and have our kids grow up in the local schools. We stayed, though, because we loved being part of this community. We built a life here with our fellow teachers, soccer moms, Little League coaches, fellow performers and volunteers at Theater Works, and our church community. This is home.
What are the three biggest issues of this local election?
Douglas Ervin: I have spoken with thousands of people in my district and listened to the issues that are most important to their families. Education, health care and jobs are the issues that I hear most and Arizonans want elected officials who put aside political ideologies and will work together to solve these problems.
As an accountant and volunteer tutor for second graders, I am working to restore fiscal responsibility to our state so we properly fund our school to provide quality pre-K learning options, improve our community colleges, expand technical training opportunities, reduce class sizes, help keep our students safe, and give teachers the respect they deserve. I will be working together with others to improve our health care system by expanding access to quality affordable care and protecting people with preexisting conditions. By making smart infrastructure investments, encouraging innovation, promoting renewable energies and supporting working families, we will grow our economy and create good-paying jobs.
Paul Boyer: Public safety, education and public health.
Judy Schwiebert: The people of our district are telling me that the single biggest issue for them is education. They’re tired of having our schools funded at 48th in the nation, and the resulting over-crowded classrooms, low pay for teachers, and the alarming teacher shortage. And now they’re concerned about how we’re going to reopen schools in a way that’s safe. They want every child to get the quality education they deserve, and that means funding our schools.
Health care. We all do better when people are healthy. This pandemic has made that clear. We must expand access to quality affordable health care, help reduce costs and protect people with pre-existing conditions.
Jobs and the economy. This uncertain time has made clear that it’s the money we everyday Arizonans spend that fuels the economy and creates jobs—and there’s no better way to put money in people’s pockets than to educate them so they can participate in our workforce. So, we need to stop shifting the tax burden to the middle class. Instead of prioritizing tax credits for special interests and corporations while requiring no accountability, we need to invest in the people of Arizona so we can build a strong economy that works for all of us.
Anthony Kern: Restarting the Arizona economy is a big issue that will be addressed during this election cycle. Since I have been at the Legislature, the Republican majority has set aside over $1 billion for emergencies such as we are experiencing now. I believe public heath will be a concern to every Arizonan. Handling the continuing needs of public education will be a top concern moving forward. It is vitally important we provide a solid education for all children in the state of Arizona.
Shawnna Bollick: We passed a responsible budget earlier this spring reflecting our new fiscal realities. We will likely be called into a special session to tackle pressing needs due to the current coronavirus. I will continue to fight to keep small businesses alive, as they are the backbone of our economy. Arizonans have lost their jobs, homes and economic livelihoods. I am committed to helping Arizona’s economy regain its footing by putting people back to work so we can thrive as a state. As a family, we cannot spend more than we take in. Why should any level of government be run differently than an efficient household? As the vice chairman of the Ways & Means committee, we were focused on targeted priorities so hard-working families did not see tax increases during these uncertain times, because households need to recover. Fortunately, under Republican leadership our state has built a hefty Rainy Day Fund to weather this economic crisis.
What experience do you have with managing spending?
Paul Boyer: I’ve been a key part of every single state budget for the last eight years, including delivering on the 20% pay increase for teachers without raising taxes. Further, we passed budgets that got us out of the previous $1 billion budget deficit due to the fiscal crisis in 2008 to where we are today with a $1 billion surplus in our state’s Rainy Day Fund.
Douglas Ervin: I have decades of experience managing spending and creating budgets as an accountant, restaurant manager, controller for small business, and consultant. I will use my financial expertise and real-world business knowledge to restore fiscal responsibility to our state legislature. This will help us lower the tax burden on working families and make wise investments in our community which will grow our economy and allow Arizona families to thrive.
Shawnna Bollick: In my two legislative sessions, I have worked on several bipartisan interim study and ad hoc committees on issues ranging from education funding to criminal justice reform to public safety. In my two years as a state representative, I have had four bipartisan bills get signed into law by the governor, including two consumer protection measures, civics education and a bill pertaining to special education funding weights.
Judy Schwiebert: I served on the board of a large church with a budget of over a million dollars and growing for four years. I also managed spending as director of a community wellness center and managed my own small business creating small group tours and house concerts.
Anthony Kern: I have successfully operated a private Investigating company with a small staff for several years. I have managed the operating budget for five political campaigns when I ran for public office. I have been the single father raising two sons for many years. I also sit on the House Appropriations Committee and vote on the state budget.
What new ideas do you have?
Douglas Ervin: My ideas are focused on how to generate the revenue necessary to make smart investments in our community, both while reducing the tax burden on working families, and incentivizing businesses to invest in Arizona so we can grow our economy and create good-paying jobs. My first idea relates to reallocating existing STO funds, reducing the millions of dollars spent on unnecessary administration fees, and expanding quality child care learning opportunities that will help kids get a head start in school.
I also have a plan to adjust the corporation apportionment ratio formula to truly incentivize companies to invest in Arizona and stop sending Arizona taxpayer money out of state.
Paul Boyer: I’m working on a state fund where any firefighter who gets cancer on the job will be covered without having to worry about getting their claim rejected.
Anthony Kern: I would like to see education a top priority at the Capitol and look for ways to open the schools while providing a safe environment. I also would like to see continued balanced budgets and take a look at how executive orders are implemented in the future by ensuring working people remain employed, small businesses are not hurt by closing the economy, and ensuring the Legislature is involved in the decision-making process.
Judy Schwiebert: I believe we need to use our tax dollars more wisely, and that means taking a longer view. We need to stop putting the burden of taxes on the middle class. We currently give away more in tax credits and exemptions for corporations and special interests than our entire state budget. This uncertain time has made it clear that we need to focus on supporting our local businesses and families, rather than giving tax breaks to large out-of-state corporations when money is going out of state.
Shawnna Bollick: In a post-COVID era, our state needs to refocus its priorities, get back to basics and restore fiscal responsibility so we can get people back to work and kids back to school. An area we truly need to modernize is the antiquated school finance funding formula. In 2020, why are we basing the current school funding formula on seat time inside a public school classroom? Government school education designed in the 17th century should not reflect how we operate in today’s world, and it’s ripe for updating.
See additional District 20 candidate questions in next week’s issue.