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For our seventh-annual Phoneys, we decided to give the candidates a call

As America celebrates the 232nd anniversary of its revolt against an unresponsive British monarchy, the Tucson Weekly for the seventh time proudly presents its Phoney Awards to local public servants.

This year, the nominees for this prestigious award are Southern Arizona candidates running for seats in the state Legislature. The list of categories was determined by their response time to a phone call from a constituent. We used the numbers listed on the Secretary of State's Web site to call the candidates.

Campaigns for the Legislature usually don't generate much attention, so candidates might have lots of time on their hands. Some of them use it, obviously, to talk to voters who call, while others apparently just don't want to bother with that inconvenience.

Without further fanfare, the winners and losers of the 2008 Phoneys are:


HOME ALONE: THE HOUSE

Several candidates for the Arizona House answered the phone themselves and talked to the constituent immediately. Whether they'll continue to do that if they get elected in November remains to be seen, but for now, that kind of response deserves special accolades. The nominees in this category are:

  • Trent Humphries (R-District 26)
  • Vic Williams (R-District 26)
  • Daniel Patterson (D-District 29)
  • Patricia Puig (D-District 29)
  • Andrea Dalessandro (D-District 30)
  • David Gowan (R-District 30)

THE WINNER IS: Everyone. This kind of response, unlike that by King George III, lets people talk directly to their potential political leaders.


HOME ALONE II: THE SENATE

Arizona House candidates weren't the only ones answering their own phones. Three of those running for the state senate also did, and should be given the same recognition. They are:

  • Pete Hershberger (R-District 26)
  • Al Melvin (R-District 26)
  • Bob Westerman (R-District 27)

THE WINNER IS: The same as above.


ALL IN THE FAMILY

Two candidates had special circumstances when the constituent called, but at least someone in their family responded. These two were:

  • Cheryl Cage (D-District 26 Senate)
  • Marilyn Zerull (R-District 26 House)

THE WINNER IS: Both candidates, for trying.


THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS

It may have been a matter of minutes, or even a few hours, but these three candidates got back to the constituent on the same day they were called:

  • Don Jorgensen (D-District 26 House)
  • Tom Prezelski (D-District 29 House)
  • Sharon Collins (R-District 30 House)

THE WINNER IS: Tom Prezelski gets the nod for returning the call the quickest.


ONE DAY AT A TIME

Responding might have taken a day or two, or even longer, but these three candidates did return the original constituent phone call:

  • Georgette Valle (D-District 30 Senate)
  • Gil Guerra (D-District 29 House)
  • Frank Antenori (R-District 30 House)

THE WINNER IS: Georgette Valle, who got back to the constituent the soonest in this category.


TRY, TRY AGAIN

After not getting any response to the initial call, the constituent tried a second time. That spurred these two candidates to finally talk:

  • Jonathan Paton (R-District 30 Senate)
  • Ephraim Cruz (D-District 29 House)

THE WINNER IS: Ephraim Cruz. It took him quite a while, but he still was the fastest.


TROUBLED IN TUCSON

Two phone calls over the course of a week didn't get any responses from six candidates. Some of them are now in office; others want to be. What their lack of response to a constituent's phone calls says about them is up to the voters to decide. The losers in this category are:

  • Jorge Luis Garcia (D-District 27 Senate)
  • Nancy Young Wright (D-District 26 House)
  • Eric Carbajal Bustamante (D-District 29 House)
  • Juan Ciscomani (R-District 29 House)
  • Matt Heinz (D-District 29 House)
  • Pat Kilburn (R-District 29 House)

THE WINNER IS: Nobody.


RETURN TO SENDER

Doug Sposito (R-District 30 House) listed a phone number which was a business line, and the constituent didn't know whether it was the correct number or not, and was never able to get in touch with him.

THE WINNER IS: Confusion. It pays for constituents to at least know whether they have the right contact information for political candidates.

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