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Election 2012 

Your guide to the upcoming election season

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Pima County

All of this year's races for the Pima County Board of Supervisors—which oversees a $1.3 billion budget and services throughout Pima County ranging from health care to transportation—will be contested.

• In District 1, Supervisor Ann Day is stepping down after three terms, leading to a rumble among Republicans who represent the Catalina foothills, Oro Valley and parts of Marana.

Four Republican candidates are in the primary: Vic Williams, who is giving up a seat in the Arizona House of Representatives to run for the county board; Ally Miller, a Tea Party organizer; Mike Hellon, a former Arizona Republican Party chairman and GOP national committeeman; and Stuart McDaniel, a mortgage broker who last dabbled in politics as a deputy campaign manager for Jesse Kelly's 2010 congressional effort.

The winner of the GOP primary will face Democrat Nancy Young Wright, a former state lawmaker and Amphitheater school-board member.

• In District 2, Supervisor Ramón Valadez, a Democrat who has been on the board since 2002, will face a challenge from Republican James Kelley, a party activist and occasional blogger.

• In District 3, Supervisor Sharon Bronson, a Democrat who has represented the westside since 1996, will face Republican newcomer Tanner Bell, a former UA football player who works for the UA Athletics Department as an academic adviser.

• In District 4, Supervisor Ray Carroll, who has served on the board since 1997, is challenged by fellow Republican Sean Collins, who left a career in the Air Force to work in the defense industry.

• In District 5, Democratic Supervisor Richard Elías is set to face Republican Fernando Gonzales, a businessman and political newcomer.

In other Pima County races:

• Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, a Democrat whose remarks about coarse political discourse set off a national firestorm in the wake of the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others on Jan. 8, 2011, is seeking a ninth term.

Dupnik has drawn five Republican challengers: Terry Frederick, a former county deputy who has worked as a private investigator; Vinson Holck, a retired Tucson police officer; Mark Napier, a former Tucson police captain; Walt Setzer, who has worked for the U.S. Border Patrol and the U.S. Marshals Service; and Chester Manning, a former police officer who appears to be partially funding his campaign through a variety of gun raffles and opportunities to fire automatic weapons.

Green Party candidate Dave Croteau, who has previously run for Tucson mayor, is making a second run for sheriff.

• County Attorney Barbara LaWall, a Democrat, has dodged a Republican challenger in her run for a fifth term as the county's top prosecutor, but has drawn opposition from Green Party leader Claudia Ellquist.

• County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez, a Democrat who has been in office since 1992, is facing a challenge from Republican Bill Beard.

• County Treasurer Beth Ford, a Republican who is seeking a fourth term, will face Democrat Elaine Richardson, a former state lawmaker who headed up the Arizona Department of Real Estate in the Napolitano administration.

• County Superintendent of Public Instruction Linda Arzoumanian faces a challenge in the GOP primary from political newcomer Mace Bravin.

The Arizona Legislature: Legislative District 2

State Sen. Linda Lopez, who has represented Tucson's south and southeast side for the last 11 years, in both the House and Senate, is running unopposed for the Senate in the new LD 2. The northern end of the district includes parts of Tucson and all of South Tucson, and then snakes south along the San Pedro River to swallow up Sahuarita, Green Valley, Arivaca and all of Santa Cruz County, including the border city of Nogales. More than 50 percent of the voters are Hispanic, and Democrats outnumber Republicans, 42 percent to 24 percent. Independent voters make up the remaining third of the electorate.

Two Democrats are running for House seats: Andrea Dalessandro lost House races in 2008 and 2010, but now that redistricting has drawn her into a heavily Democratic district, she's hoping the third time is the charm. A retired certified public accountant, Dalessandro said her skill with numbers will help her balance the budget.

"I was a teacher, so that prepared me to understand the challenges education is facing in the state," she said. "And because I was a CPA, I understand the budget and taxes, and because I was a small-business owner with my CPA practice, I know what we need for small business."

Rosanna Gabaldón has served on the Sahuarita Town Council since 2009 and said she is ready to take her leadership skills from a small community to the state Capitol.

"I can bring some common sense to the floor of the House," she said. "My time on the Sahuarita Town Council was short, but it did bring me experience with the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, and I was able to learn what was happening on the state level."

The two Democrats will face Republican John Ackerley, a physics teacher at Amphi High School who said he wants to articulate a coherent education policy.

Legislative District 3

Looks like Sen. Olivia Cajero Bedford will have to roll out the purple campaign pickup truck again for her sixth campaign for the state Legislature. She has served in both chambers since first winning office in 2002. She faces a primary challenge from Maria de la Luz Garcia, the widow of former Senate Minority Leader Jorge Luis Garcia. De la Luz Garcia, who was appointed to fill her husband's seat after his death at the end of 2010, said she hopes to carry on his tradition of working for constituents in this westside Tucson district.

Representatives Sally Ann Gonzales and Macario Saldate are running unopposed for the two House seats in LD 3, which is bordered by Campbell Avenue on the east and stretches west from the University of Arizona to the Drexel Heights neighborhood and Ryan Airfield. It's more than 50 percent Hispanic, and Democrats have an almost a 3-to-1 advantage over Republicans, with independents making up nearly a third of the voters.

Legislative District 4

LD 4 takes in a small portion of southern Tucson, but most of its population is in southwestern Arizona, including Yuma, Sells, Ajo, Why, the Tohono O'odham and Pascua Yaqui reservations, and Organ Pipe National Monument.

Democratic Rep. Lynne Pancrazi is running unopposed in her bid to move up to the Senate in the heavily Democratic, heavily Hispanic district. Democrats make up 40 percent of the voters; 25 percent are Republicans; and 35 percent are independents.

With no Republican opposition in sight, it's smooth sailing through the general election for the two winners of the three-way Democratic primary in LD 4. Contenders include Juan Carlos Escamilla, a 33-year-old Democratic former mayor and council member of the border city of San Luis, who wants to bring his border perspective to the House and represent the small, rural communities that he said the Legislature has left behind.

"I definitely want to focus on rural Arizona," Escamilla said. "Being in the local government, I've seen these bills that have come down from the state Capitol, and this one-size-fits-all doesn't work. It really hurts, and it puts a huge burden on smaller communities."

Charlene Fernandez has held a multitude of titles working for the Democratic Party over the past 30 years, and has served on the school board in Yuma for the past eight years.

"I think the Legislature isn't meeting the needs of people like me, an average person born and raised here in Arizona," she said. "I sent my children to public schools, and they went on to graduate from the state universities, so I really value public education."

Lisa Otondo, a real-estate agent from Yuma who ran an unsuccessful campaign for Congress in 2002, said she wants to change the culture at the Legislature and fight for economic development and education.

"I'm really discontented with the Arizona Legislature, and I think they need to refocus their priorities," she said. "There is an undercurrent of discontent, and it's not just from Democrats; it's from independents and Republicans, too."

Legislative District 9

Democratic Rep. Steve Farley wants to replace termed-out Sen. Paula Aboud, but is facing a challenge from Republican Tyler Mott, the president of the Pima County Young Republicans. Mott said he got into his first race for public office because he couldn't sit back and watch Farley run unopposed.

"The main reason I'm running is that even if there is a slight Democratic advantage in the district, I just don't think it's right to give (Farley) a free shot," he said. "It's about giving the voters options."

District 9 runs from Interstate 10 on the north side of town, east through the Catalina foothills and the Casas Adobes neighborhood, into midtown Tucson and to Sabino Canyon. It is considered one of the relatively few competitive districts in the state: Democrats hold about a 3.5 percentage-point lead in voter registration over Republicans, while independents make up almost 30 percent of the electorate.

Three Democrats are vying for the two open seats created in the House when Farley moved up to the Senate, and Rep. Bruce Wheeler was cut into another district.

Mohur Sidhwa, a longtime Democratic activist who lost a Democratic primary by less than 500 votes in her first run for the House in 2010, promised to bring a rational voice to combat the ideological babbling of Republicans in charge.

"Sanity demands that I run for office," she said. "I mean, if people who are sane don't get into the Legislature, Arizona is in big trouble."

Dustin Cox, a former nonprofit head who now runs a consulting business, came in fifth in an eight-way primary in 2010 during his first run for the House. He said his experience turning a failing nonprofit into a success and creating jobs makes him an attractive option for Republicans as well as fellow Democrats.

"You're not going to get party extremists who are going to win in this district," he said.

Although it's her first run for elected office, voters may remember Victoria Steele from her days as a news anchor in Tucson and Phoenix. She currently works as a counselor with her own practice and does student counseling at the University of Phoenix.

"I started seeing the effects of the decisions made at the state Legislature and how horribly it was affecting people," Steele said. "I was getting angry at what was happening, so I decided I was going to take my empowering and advocacy to more of a communitywide level, and I decided to run for office."

The winners will face Republican Ethan Orr, who has worked as the director for economic and community development for the city of South Tucson and now works in the nonprofit world, developing job-training programs for the homeless and developmentally disabled. Orr is hoping to pick off enough Democratic votes to push him over the top in this competitive district.

"I've done a lot in this community," Orr said. "There are a lot of traditionally Democratic people who are supporting me."

Legislative District 10

After giving up his hope of being elected to Congress this year, state Sen. Frank Antenori is trying to return to the Legislature. But he'll face a tough run against former state lawmaker David Bradley, who represented Tucson in the Legislature from 2003 until 2011.

Democrats have a slight voter advantage in this eastside Tucson district, which runs from Campbell Avenue between Speedway Boulevard and 22nd Street, and opens up to the east, capturing the Sabino Canyon and Tanque Verde areas.

Antenori called it a race between "the great bankrupter" (Bradley) and "the great repairer" (himself).

"When he left office, we were 20-something billion dollars in deficit; we had 10.2 percent unemployment; the state had lost 330,000 jobs; and there was no plan except raising everyone's taxes," Antenori said. "And then Antenori comes in, and what do we do? We control spending and control the size of state government. ... We balance the budget and add over 70,000 jobs, and it's still growing."

Bradley said that Antenori has upset a lot of people during his time in the Legislature and will have a hard time gaining traction in the new, more-moderate district.

"I don't see government as the enemy. I don't think it's the answer to everything, but it has a role and an ability to do good things," Bradley said. "And it's not just Antenori; that's the whole attitude or approach that this Legislature has."

In the House primary, Democrats will pick two candidates from three running, including Rep. Bruce Wheeler, who was elected to the House in 2010. Wheeler is asking voters to return him to the Capitol so he can fight the bad laws and short-sighted budgets he said Republicans are pushing.

"The Legislature is enacting really extremist, horrible legislation, and we need to put a stop to it," he said.

Democrat Brandon Patrick, a former Arabic translator for the Air Force in Iraq and Afghanistan who has worked as an aide to Tucson City Councilman Paul Cunningham, called the last two legislative sessions two of the worst the state has ever seen, especially for Tucson.

"They've messed with our elections; they've messed with our water policy; they've messed with our county; they've managed to screw up Rio Nuevo even worse than it was before, which I can't understand," he said. "So I'm interested in protecting Tucson from that kind of legislation."

Like Patrick, Stefanie Mach is a first-time candidate for elected office. She runs her own consulting business, which helps nonprofits run effectively, and said her main issue is funding the public K-12 system and keeping tuition for higher education down, which will in turn help businesses and the economy.

"While money doesn't solve all problems, we do need that base level of funding to have a quality education system," she said. "And, really, that leads into the quality jobs that everyone's seeking. Biotech, green-tech, green-energy and renewable-energy businesses are asking for a higher quality of education."

The winners of the Democratic primary will face Republican state Rep. Ted Vogt, who was appointed, and then elected, to the Legislature in 2010. Vogt said that although the new district is much more Democratic than his current district, voters will respect his record of making hard decisions to balance the budget, and return him to the House.

"I feel confident I can win in this district," he said. "I'll put my record up against anybody's. Look at what we did in the state of Arizona: We had a $3 billion deficit. And what do we have now? We have a balanced budget."

Joining Vogt on the GOP ticket is Todd Clodfelter, the GOP chairman of the current LD 30 who owns a graphics, consulting and printing business in Tucson. He said his experience negotiating in the worlds of business and politics will make him an attractive choice to conservatives in the district.

"I can offer the people of Arizona a continued path of the conservative approach—keeping the budget balanced and keeping spending down," he said. "And I think one thing I can offer that others can't is the ability to communicate. I can disagree and keep a dialogue."

More by Jim Nintzel

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