The early ballot for November's election arrived in Saturday's mail.
Most readers of the blog are already aware of how I feel about most of the races. If not, just check out the 'Candidates for 2008' section in the right column.
Congressman Harry Mitchell, State Senator Meg Burton Cahill, and State Representatives David Schapira and Ed Ableser all deserve reelection, and candidates Tim Nelson (Maricopa County Attorney), Dan Saban (County Sheriff), Ed Hermes (County Supervisor, SD1), and Sandra Kennedy, Sam George, and Paul Newman (Arizona Corporation Commission) each merit support in their quests.
There are a few races that I haven't addressed earlier, mostly because no Democrat is running for the office. All of those races are for Maricopa County offices.
In those races - County Assessor, County Recorder, and County School Superintendent - I'll be voting for the Libertarian candidates. Not because I think that they have a snowball's chance in Phoenix of winning, or are even particularly well-qualified for the jobs (most of them *aren't* qualified), but because a strong showing by the Libertarians this year could encourage qualified Democrats to pursue the offices in four years.
Note: Some of these folks are so unqualified that if they had a chance of winning, I'd vote for a Republican first. However, that's not an issue this year.
I don't think that it's any coincidence that a longtime Tempe (and Arizona!) icon, Democrat Harry Mitchell, ran against entrenched (and embarrassing!) Republican Congressman JD Hayworth in 2006 *after* the 2004 showing of virtual unknown Elizabeth Rogers.
She garnered 38% of the CD5 vote on a $5000 budget, presaging Mitchell's upset of Hayworth two years later. A similar performance (>25%) by the Libertarian candidates will illustrate the changing electoral demographics in Maricopa County and possibly enourage other, more serious, candidates to throw their hats in the ring next time around.
As such, I will be voting for Rachel Kielsky for County Assessor, Ernest Hancock for County Recorder, and David Hodges for County School Superintendent. In the race for County Treasurer, I won't be casting a vote as no one, not even a Libertarian, is running against the embattled Charles Hoskins. Potential Democratic candidates will have to be encouraged by the undervotes in the race.
- For the non-partisan Maricopa County Special Health Care District District 1, I'll be voting for incumbent William 'Bil' Bruno. He's a loyal Republican, but so is his opponent, Rex Altree. Altree's qualifications see to be that he is a lobbyist (AZ Auto Glass Association) and that the Maricopa County GOP thinks that he is more conservative than Bruno.
A vote for Bruno is a vote for the "least bad" candidate, but that will have to do here.
- For the non-partisan Scottsdale Unified School District No. 48 race, there are four candidates for three seats. Incumbents Jennifer Petersen and Eric Meyer (also a candidate for an LD11 House seat) are running for reelection; ballot newcomers Bonnie Sneed and Paige Frenkel fill out the list of candidates (That isn't meant to imply that they are newcomers to SUSD. Both have been very much involved in the community and in the school district.)
As I am totally unfamiliar with SUSD and its schools, I have no recommendations here.
- In the City of Scottsdale run-off election, incumbent Mary Manross and challenger Jim Lane are facing off for mayor, and Lisa Borowsky, Betty Drake, Tom Giller, Suzanne Klapp, Ron McCullagh, and Nan Nesvig are squaring off for three seats. Drake and McCullagh are incumbents.
As with the election in September, while I will be voting, I'm not satisfied enough with any of the candidates to actually endorse them. These are 'pick your poison' races.
- On the judge retention section of the ballot...no comment. I have no direct knowledge of any of the judges, which is a good thing because it means that I've successfully avoided court. However, that leaves me singularly unqualified to weigh in on this part of the ballot other than to say that this is a really lousy way to hold judges responsible to the voters of the county and state.
And before some wiseass brings it up, this method ("retain - yes or no") is still better than direct election. That would lead to judicial decisions based less on legal merit and more on political calculation.
The Judicial Performance Review is available from the AZ Secretary of State's office here.
- As for the propositions, I'll be voting...
Prop 100 - No. Banning a real estate transfer/sales tax. I don't like the idea of raising taxes, but part of the state's budget crisis is rooted in Republican efforts to strangle public services by cutting off revenue. Plus, I don't like the fact that the proposal is retroactive to December 31, 2007.
Prop 101 - No. Called a 'medical choice' act. It would have the effect of shutting down AHCCCS and other public health plans. It would require Arizonans to send their health care dollars to private (and frequently, out-of-state) health insurance companies, instead of spending their money where it is needed, on the care of their families and themselves.
Prop 102 - No. The anti-same sex marriage amendment to the AZ Constitution. This exercise in right-wing bullying was beaten back two years ago, and deserves to be soundly trounced this time.
Prop 105 - No. Called "Majority Rules", it would require that ballot measures that impose any taxes or fees to gain the votes of a majority of registered voters, not just a majority of votes cast. In short, not casting a vote for a proposition would be the equivalent of voting no. This one may be worse than Prop 102 as it seeks to disenfranchise all voters, not just one particular demographic group. The measure is funded by folks who oppose ballot initiatives that mandate things like children's health care and Clean Elections. It's irresponsible governing, and should be defeated.
Prop 200 - No. Billed as a "Payday Loan Reform" measure when in fact it is funded by the payday loan industry. Instead of reforming the business, it would permanently authorize its existence (set to expire in 2010) and institutionalize some of the nastier aspects of the operations (i.e - 391% APR).
Prop 201 - Yes. Homeowners' Bill of Rights. Would give homeowners prospective buyers the right to sue under certain circumstances, as well as other rights mostly related to warranties. Given the Phoenix-area trend of shoddy workmanship performed by fly-by-night or out of state developers, this is direly needed.
Prop 202 - a hesitant Yes. Called the "Stop Illegal Hiring" initiative, it makes changes to Arizona's employer sanctions law. While that is a good thing, this initiative focuses only on helping businesses, not individuals. Not surprisingly, it is supported most strongly by the AZ Growers Association and other groups that profit from cheap immigrant labor. Also not surprisingly, it is opposed by Russell Pearce and the rest of the state's nativists.
Can we vote in a way such that both sides lose?? :)
To be workable and truly effective, any measures that really address immigration and border issues should be written by real people, not hate-focused nativists or money-focused profiteers.
Prop 300 - Yes. This measure would raise legislative salaries from $24,000 per year to $30,000. It's long overdue - it's been a decade since the last legislative raise. The rationale for the low legislative pay has always been "it's a part time job." I don't know how part time - it's a 60 - 70 hour per week job during the typical six month session, and maybe 25 - 30 hours per week during the off season, with even that cycling up in November and December as the next session of the lege looms on the horizon. Over a full year, it works out to being a full-time, 40-hour per week job, and $30K isn't too much to pay.