My Thoughts on the Independent Redistricting Commission
As a member of the Arizona House of Representatives, I would like to express my thoughts on the Independent Redistricting Commission. For those who do not know, Prop 106 was a voter approved ballot initiative that was passed in 1998 putting the redistricting authority into the hands of an independent commission. The heart of the initiative was to create an independent body that would act in a non-partisan nature.
Ten years ago the IRC, with then chairman Steve Lynn, was successful in achieving these goals.
They were able to draw maps that adequately reflected voter populations, communities of interest and remained consistence with the federal voters rights act. In essence it created an equal playing field for both Republicans and Democrats in Arizona in relationship to voter registration and demographic numbers.
However, it is now clear at this moment the current IRC is unbalanced and is not acting in an independent method with Colleen Mathis at the helm. Most do not know this, but Colleen Mathis’ husband served as the treasurer for my Democrat opponent in the 2010 election cycle, unquestionably the most far left-wing ideolog who served in the Arizona House of Representatives. Their unsuccessful campaign was one of the dirtiest in recent southern Arizona history. Colleen Mathis failed to mention this in her application to the IRC. That fact alone makes it all but impossible for Colleen Mathis to be impartial and to be able to act in an independent manner.
For me, as an Arizona State Representative from Northwest Pima County it is not a matter of eliminating the IRC, but how we fix it so it functions as it did 10 years ago under Steve Lynn. The IRC has performed at a high level of efficiency and integrity in the past and it can again if we take steps to fix it. If Governor Brewer calls the legislature into special session next week I would be willing to vote for reforms to the current independent system. It is clear that Colleen Mathis is unable to conduct herself in a non-partisan and independent manner. Mathis must go!
As well, in order for the integrity of the IRC to be re-established other reforms must be taken. The voters of Arizona should consider accepting a more thorough vetting process to ensure that people like Mathis who have a political agenda do not get put on the commission. There should be mechanisms in place to remove members who lie or mislead in the application process. We should consider expanding the board beyond its current level of 5 members, which will not allow so much power to be controlled by so few.
It is important that we honor the will of the voters and ensure that they get what they bargained for: a truly independent redistricting commission that does not serve the interest of ether the Republicans or the Democrats, but that of the interest of the people of Arizona.
My Take On The Occupy Movement
Last night on my Facebook page I was asked “what is my take on the occupy movement.” As a member of the Arizona House of Representatives, I’m a fiscal conservative, free market Republican who believes in the dignity of work. I speak from the perspective of owning and operating small business enterprises for the past 20 plus years of my life. As well, I have had the blessing to perform physical labor as an employee and business owner.
My skills and jobs have included welding, acetylene torching, unloading semis on the graveyard shift in L.A. produce market, stocking grocery store shelves, cleaning heads, swamping out loading docks, poring concrete, building chain link fencing, roofing buildings, painting apartments, operating various types of equipment and other task that fail my memory at this moment.
My body still bares the scars of various industrial accidents from being cut and then stitched up, burnt, punctured, scrapped and a couple broken knuckles and fingers.
I have been able to advance myself by employing my intellect, my dedication, my consistency, my capital, my willingness to take risk, and by educating myself.
I believe that USA
is still the best and greatest country in the world.
I believe the America
dream is still intact for those who are willing to work hard and sacrifice.
Jonathon, I know all this self glossing hasn’t directly answering your question “What is my take on the occupy movement around the world”, but I hope it gives you a sense of what my ethics are. And I don’t want to be to judgmental of people who I have never met before. I also try to prescribe to the practice of: “if you don’t have something nice to say about somebody, don’t say it at all.” But I would be comfortable saying this: from my perspective and from what I have seen on the tube and those I have seen camped out in person in downtown Tucson who are part of the occupy movement, I don’t believe that many of them would be the type of chaps who I have worked with in the past elbow-to-elbow with a shovel in my hand.
Events This Past Weekend
As your Arizona State Representative from Northwest Pima County, I would like to take a moment to reflect and let everybody know how much I appreciate their help and directions they gave me in finding events to attend this past weekend. After my Legislative District meeting Saturday morning I put the word out on Facebook I was looking for meetings or gathering to attend. Well, the power of social media worked its magic. Within an hour or two, there where at least 10 different suggestions in my comment box.
First I was able to walk and shake a few hands at a small arts and crafts fair being held in front of the Sunflowers market on Orange Grove. Next I was able to speak at the dedication of the Arizona Free and Able Masons lodge. Later, I stopped by an arts and cultural event that was partially hosted by the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. From there I made my way over to the University of Arizona to watch the battle of the high school bands. After that I drove to Suarhrita to attend the Pecan Festival. Finally, later that night I attended a fundraiser at the Tucson Children’s Museum.
What made this day special was not the amount of venues I attended. It wasn’t the fact that I was able to meet or speak in front of 300 to 400 people. Nor was it the amount of miles that I traveled. What truly made this day special was that at almost every event I was able to connect with a group. I was able to take the time to listen and observe. I was able to find a connection between my office and their wants and needs.
My take away and tasks are this. For the Free Mason I am working on connecting them with the Arizona Centennial Commission to find out if there is a role for them to play in our state’s upcoming 100th anniversary. With the art & cultural event, I promised a couple of the artists that I would display some of their work in my office for everybody to see and invite them up to the capitol as my guests. With the battle of the bands, I will be reaching out to the U of A and the local high schools to ensure that my legislative office recognizes their achievements.
So with that being said, I would like to reach out to you with this challenge. Go out and get involved, become a volunteer or reach out to a group you haven’t dealt with before. We are living in troubled times; an uncertain economy, war, terror and mounting national debt that looms over all of us each day. But the answer is not anger, or hatred, or blaming others. The answer lies within inside each of us. It’s about involvement. If you are not sure where to start, then reach out to my office. We’ll hook you up and get you going!
New Ventana CEO commits to region
Today, Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremath and the Oro Valley Town Council, in conjunction with my legislative office, co-hosted a meet and greet reception for Mara Aspinall, the new CEO of Oro Valley's largest bioscience employer, Ventana Medical Systems, Inc.
Mara is a 20-year veteran of Roche Laboratories, which is the parent company of Ventana located in Innovation Park. Roche Laboratories currently employs 1,200 people and has another 500 jobs on the way to the region.
Before relocating to Southern Arizona, Mara lived and worked in Boston for 30 years. She sat on the board of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and worked closely with the mayor and state legislature regarding science and technology issues. Mara considered herself an ambassador for the bioscience industry on the East Coast and is planning to continue that trend here in Oro Valley.
My legislative office, along with the Town of Oro Valley, is working with Ventana and Sanofi (the other large bioscience employer at Innovation Park) to develop a science-based internship for students and high school teachers for our public, charter and private school assets.
Northwest Pima County is becoming a national player in the private sector bioscience industry. Ten years ago, Venture West had the vision and foresight to create Innovation Park to tap into the spin-off companies that were developing out of University of Arizona's science and technology research.
Then, Oro Valley developed its shovel-ready programs to get new companies up and running fast in response to the poor development schedules from other regional governments. My office worked closely to ensure that assets like Basis Charter Schools developed a campus to support this high-tech industry.
Now with Governor Brewer's signing of the economic development bill (HB2001) passed earlier this year by the Arizona State Legislature and championed by the pro-business legislators such as myself at the capitol, we in Northwest Pima County are positioned to reap this economic harvest. All of us must heed the advice of the new CEO at Ventana Medical Systems, Mara Aspinall, and become local ambassadors of our community. Doing that together as "One-Voice-Arizona" will propel our prosperity into a bright future.
Flowing Wells Unified School District
I would like to take a moment to follow up on a promise made to the Flowing Wells Unified School District by showing them my support of their override efforts. FWUSD is one of the good players when it comes to school funding in the region. They are run well and lean. Dollars are directed to the classroom keeping teacher pay high and room counts low.
Over the past few years Governor Brewer and the Arizona State Legislature has acted proactively dealing with a multi-billion budget deficit. From January 2009 to July 2011 we went from a 3.5 billion shortfall to a state surplus. We have made tough choices in tough times. However, many of the local governments haven’t.
I can honestly say that FWUSD during this entire crisis has been consistent, a team player and has keep its standards well above the average earning them some of the top school rankings in the state. If there is a school district to get behind and show as an example of how to get things done it Flowing Wells. That is why they have earned my endorsement for the 2011 override.