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State Rep. Jennifer Burns has announced she will not seek re-election, saying she "can no longer afford the level of time and financial commitment required to be a representative."
Burns is something of an anomaly in the Arizona Legislature: A Republican who represents the Democratic-leaning Legislative District 25, which includes Marana, Sierra Vista and a big chuck of rural Southern Arizona.
Burns is a moderate who often sides with Democrats. She has faced frequent challenges from the right wing of the GOP, as well as occasional challenges from the Dems.
Burns' seatmate, Manny Alvarez, is expected to seek the Senate seat that Democrat Marsha Arzberger will have to give up after four terms, leaving two open House seats.
Democrat Pat Fleming, who unsuccessfully ran the LD 25 seat in 2006, has announced that she is running for a House seat, as has Democrat Richard Boyer, who lost a Corporation Commission race in 2006. Republican David Stevens, another former House candidate, is also in the race.
From Burns' press release:
While it has been an extreme honor to serve in the Arizona House of Representatives, I am announcing that I will not run for re-election in 2008. I sincerely thank my constituents for giving me this opportunity to work with them to give Arizona a brighter future. Together, we have made a difference and I look forward to future opportunities to continue serving the people of Arizona.
During my six years, I joined with others to fight for increased funding for teachers and the classroom, economic development programs such as Science Foundation Arizona, and the universities and community colleges. We protected critical services for children and our most vulnerable. We stood up for businesses on issues important to them and provided the largest tax cut in Arizona history. I championed causes critical to rural and Southern Arizona, including protection of military bases, water issues, infrastructure investment, and higher education. I also worked to uphold issues important in the legislative process, including working collaboratively, knowing the issues, appreciating differences of opinion, and respecting the institution.
As State Representative for District 25, I have seen Arizona from a unique perspective. While it has required more than a full-time effort to serve close to 200,000 people, stretched over 18,000 square miles, I have enjoyed the opportunity to meet many wonderful people and to be a real part of the many communities in my district. Some of the memories I cherish include the 10 to 12 parades a year, Memorial Day and the Shrimp Festival in Gila Bend, the Cowboy Hall of Fame and FFA Dinners in Willcox, Fourth of July fireworks in Marana, border tours in Nogales, and Mother’s Day Pancake Breakfasts in Arivaca. I’ve appreciated interacting on a personal and professional level at chamber of commerce events, economic forums and numerous other meetings throughout District 25 and Arizona. I have also been honored to host Afghan elected officials in Arizona and to personally visit South Africa, Ireland, and our military men and women across this country. Each of these experiences strengthened my belief and pride in Arizona.
I thank my constituents--Republicans, Democrats, and Independents--for the opportunity to serve them and for their votes of confidence. Unfortunately, I can no longer afford the level of time and financial commitment required to be a representative. However, I will continue to be involved and hope those who follow will continue the obligation to join in the activities, learn what matters to the people in our communities, work collaboratively, and fight for Arizona’s future.
Our latest installment of Tucson Weekly TV is up. Matt Kielty demonstrates some of the challenges of being an unpaid Tucson Weekly intern.
Here's something I've been meaning to post for some time: Last year, in lieu of covering a dreadfully boring City Council election, I wrote up a piece about 10 Simple Rules for political candidates.
Bob Westerman, a Republican seeking to challenge Democratic Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia in westside Legislative District 27, is the first candidate to write us to explain how he plans to follow the 10 Simple Rules.
We enjoyed his thoughtful letter so much that we're posting it here. And if any other candidates feel like sending in their response, we'll post that, too. Probably.
Take it away, Bob!
1. Explain Why You Are Running
Arizona is facing a lot of difficult social and financial problems. In particular, I'm tired of seeing Arizona continuously ranked at the bottom in education. I feel many of Arizona's issues are interrelated and will require solutions that consider the overall picture and the long-term impact to people and the state economy. My 30+ years of working in industry, provides me with the skills that I believe a Senator will need to successfully tackle these problems.
2. Have a Plan
I plan to focus on education and healthcare. For an example, in education I want to resolve the Flores legislation issue. Local schools are forced to comply even without the funding the state has been directed to spend. I want to reduce the size of the ADE at the state level and move the funding down to the local schools. I don't support school building bonds because this increases costs and jeopardizes future budgets. I want to change the compulsory age from 16 to 17 to discourage kids from dropping out. I want to face the NCLB issue head-on and return student assessment testing to the local level. I want to propose a new program that provides scholarships for math and science majors who agree to teach for four years. In health care, I'm going after cost. I want to draft legislation that addresses awarding excessive damages but protects the injured party's rights. At the same time I want to be sure insurance companies pass these savings on. I strongly support the Emergency Treatment Burden of Proof bill, which is currently being proposed for the third time. I want to encourage the use of convenient-care clinics like CVS and Walgreens. I want to propose a new physical fitness and nutrition awareness program that specifically targets school age children.
3. Have Some Idea About How Government Works
The Arizona government is becoming more complicated every year. With a state budget of over $10B, legislators need to spend considerable time reviewing financial forecasts and expenditures. Last year's JLBC forecast didn't accurately forecast revenue for 2008 -2010. This was one of the factors that led to this year's shortfall. Unfortunately the Arizona Legislature gets a late start in the process when they start session in January. It would be nice to be involved in the forecast process. Since I'll be retired from Raytheon, I will be available full time during the interim period and will be able to work with the JLBC and OSPB. During the session the drafting, proposing, and sponsoring of bills become priorities; however, as with the budget, time I can spend during the interim period will help me better prepare my sponsored bills.
4. Have a Campaign Strategy
Aside from the quixotic aspect of campaigning in a heavily Democratic district, we have a campaign strategy. First, I assembled a staff to help me campaign. Having a Democrat, Independent, and a strong conservative Republican on my staff has really helped me take a more in-depth look at the issues using different perspectives. "How am I going to win?" Clearly I'll have to knock on a lot of doors, but we are researching each precinct so we can spend our limited resources where we can get the best results. I have a lot of NPD and Independents to go after in LD 27 but I'll also want to aggressively campaign for the Hispanic vote and we must get Democrats to look at my platform. I plan to debate Senator Garcia to convey my message; I believe his voting record doesn't align with the district's interests. Bottom line, I'm writing a new playbook and it probably won't look like LD 26 or 30.
5. Raise Money
I am running as a Clean Elections candidate. This wasn't a decision that I made lightly. I assumed (and correctly) that Senator Garcia would run clean. This means I would have to rise over $90K just to stay even. Realistically, in a year where McCain and Bee will be sweeping up the available money, I'll have to rely on a financial strategy that uses my money better than Senator Garcia uses his.
6. Put Up a Useful Web Page
7. Have Some Relevant Experience
Work on the state budget? I have years of experience in not only developing very large (multi-million dollars) and detailed budgets but I also have developed and identified realistic risks and opportunities. Research is critical in any budget as is using a zero base. Yes, I will challenge all department leadership. Need to draft a bill? Start with the right data and facts, use language that is clear and understandable, and then negotiate with your peers to gain their support. I have written and negotiated very complex subcontracts with small and very large companies, as well as with the government. Need a new innovative approach? I was assigned to work with General Motors to develop ways to leverage subcontractors; I helped with the sharing of technology from Raytheon suppliers to develop the Electric Vehicle. Regarding education, I recently completed 17 units in PCC's teacher preparation program and have about 30 hours of high school classroom observation time. This has helped me understand education issues from the teacher's perspective. Although I was unsuccessful in 1992 as a candidate in the California congressional primary, I gained some very useful experience that I plan to use for this campaign.
8. 'Fess Up
Good advice. The staff and I have used background check websites to see if there's anything out there about me. The good news is that I've held a secret or higher clearance for almost my entire adult life and had an extensive background check when I became a reserve deputy sheriff in Los Angeles County.
9. Call Us Back
I answer my phone messages and emails after I get off work. I answer my home phone at night. I have my personal cell phone on during weekends. My email and cell phone are on my website. Yes, I promise to call you back as soon as I am able.
10. Rehearse Your Lines
This I will do. I am working with my staff to develop the "sound bites" we believe best convey my message.
Here's Thomas Friedman from the NY Times on Sen. John McCain's pandering gas-tax holiday proposal, which would suspend the federal gas tax between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
This is not an energy policy. This is money laundering: we borrow money from China and ship it to Saudi Arabia and take a little cut for ourselves as it goes through our gas tanks. What a way to build our country.
When the summer is over, we will have increased our debt to China, increased our transfer of wealth to Saudi Arabia and increased our contribution to global warming for our kids to inherit.
Suspending the gas tax is such a bad idea that I'm astonished that no one in the Arizona Legislature has proposed doing it.
Has Wal-Mart finally found a way to open up at El Con Mall? TW contributor Dave Devine tells the TW Blog that El Con neighbors learned at a recent meeting that good ol’ Wally Mart was negotiating with Macy’s to take over the the department store’s now-vacated space at the west end of the mall. Bet the folks in El Encanto just love that idea.
Would a deal with Wal-Mart activate the restrictions of the city’s Big Box ordinance? If Wal-Mart remained within the footprint of the existing building—even if they tear it down—the world’s most favorite retailer might be able to sidestep the Big Box rules.
Charlotte Gillis is a 30-year-old student and mother of two who happens to be passionate about what she believes in—so much so that she got arrested on April 8 for indecent exposure near the corner of Speedway Boulevard and Stone Avenue. Gillis stood topless to challenge indecent-exposure laws that discriminate against women. She’s charged with a misdemeanor classified a sex crime, and she’s facing a pretrial hearing on Friday, May 2, at Tucson City Court. To learn more, check out Gillis’ MySpace page at www.myspace.com/rptlgrl.
What do you want to see happen when you go to trial?
For the court to rule on (my arrest) as unconstitutional. … If they (just) dismiss, then I did all of this for nothing. The arrest will be an arrest on my record; even if there isn’t a conviction, it’s still an arrest, so it still could be a problem for my teaching career. That’s neither here nor there. I knew the risks when I did this.
What are you protesting?
The way the indecent-exposure law is written, it says his or her genitals or anus (cannot be exposed), or if a woman exposes the areola or nipple of her breasts, that is against the law … except for breast-feeding; there is an exception. It is so gender-specific. … We should have laws that apply to everyone equally; isn’t that what equal rights are all about?
Did you go with anyone else to protest?
It was just me. The reason I didn’t have anyone with me is I didn’t want someone who was going to get mouthy with the police or something like that, or who might have been intoxicated or might have had a police record. And, no, I have never been arrested and never had a traffic violation. I knew I could talk to the police in a manner that wouldn’t get me into more trouble.
What did you do that day?
I had a sign that I was holding under my breasts that said, “Breasts are not obscene.” And then I had another sign I was holding up that said, “Equal rights.”
What made you decide to protest?
I talk about this issue all the time … but I never do anything. Something came up, and I said that “vocalism is not activism.” And then I said, “Wait, all I ever do is talk. What have I ever done?”
What happened when you protested?
I understand some calls went out to 911. The complainant is a woman. The victim. It says “victim” on my arrest report. It’s a girl.
Does that mean that they had to go through all those 911 complaints and find someone to press charges against you?
I don’t know. I’m not sure how that works; all I know is that it says “victim.” … I wonder if she feels victimized and feels like calling 911 every time she sees her breasts in the mirror. And she’s younger than me. I think it said she is 24, but it was hard to read the chicken-scratch of the officer. How could a 24-year-old be victimized by a 30-year-old mom’s boobs? Hers are probably much nicer than mine.
For people to react to boobs by calling 911 seems a bit much.
I was raised in a very liberal home, and we would go to hot springs and Native American sweats, and nudity was never an issue. I was never taught to be ashamed or told there was anything weird. To me, it’s always fascinating. Why would you be offended by boobies? I don’t get it. They feed children; they are just there. There’s nothing sexual about breasts in my opinion, not any more than a man’s chest. It probably boils down to insecurity. … It’s really the only thing I can think of.
After the arrest, were you taken to jail?
I did get taken to jail and was in for 18 hours before being released on my own recognizance. Did you know (the jail is) co-ed? It’s called the pit at the Pima County Jail, and it is co-ed. … It was a little intimidating, but I just kept a positive outlook. I knew I was going to be released. … I was actually sitting next to a man who beat the crap out of his wife.
The day of your pre-trial hearing (May 2), you’re going to have a protest at 8 a.m. that same morning. Only women?
I’m hoping for a large group of people, all people. I don’t want this to be a feminist issue. This is a humanist issue.
And women should come with pasties on? Is that what you’re hoping for?
However they are comfortable. I don’t want to encourage anyone else to get arrested. … It would be pointless at this time. I already did that. But pasties or T-shirts that say, “Breasts are not obscene,” or anything that shows solidarity that we are all human beings. Our breasts are all biologically the same. Don’t discriminate because I have a chromosome that is different.
Just two more days of TV Turn-Off Week! I'm still doing pretty good. I watched Arizona Illustrated last night, as well as the latest episode of Battlestar Galactica, of course. But I think that was it! Oh, wait, I did watch 30 Day of Night, but that's only because it's due back at Casa Video today. So that was barely three hours of TV.
And today, I've only watched a Mets-Cubs game I TiVo'ed earlier in the week but didn't watch because it was TV Turn-Off Week.
Just in case you missed our interview with City Council members Karin Uhlich and Rodney Glassman last night on Arizona Illustrated, you can watch it here. And here's us pundits doing our pundit thing.
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