Jorge Luis Garcia has represented the West Side District 27 in the Legislature for three largely unremarkable terms.
Now Robert Westerman, a well-informed newcomer, has stepped up to challenge Garcia. And Westerman’s knowledge of the legislative process and state issues as well as his clear enthusiasm for the job make him the better candidate.
Clearly, it will be difficult for Westerman, a Republican, to dislodge Democrat Garcia. The district has three times as many Democrats as Republicans.
Westerman has an unusually deep knowledge of the troubled state budget and a passion for education that would serve the district well.
He is a senior manager at Raytheon Missile Systems who moved to Arizona 16 years ago and is making his first run for elective office.
Westerman calls education the primary issue facing the state, saying the state’s inadequate spending for schools hurts not only children, but also makes it difficult to attract businesses that demand a high quality of life for their employees.
He praises Garcia’s support for education funding, but says more needs to be done. Westerman says the state should have a dedicated funding source for both building and operating schools – an intriguing idea that would remove education spending from the political chopping block in times – such as now – when the budget is tight.
Westerman also says the state may have to increase fuel taxes to tackle massive transportation needs – a refreshing consideration that would take pressure off the overburdened sales tax. He also would ask the private sector to get involved, possibly by building and operating toll roads for those willing to pay to bypass more congested highways.
Garcia’s résumé is thin, despite his six years in the Senate and his two years as assistant Democratic leader. Garcia also served in the state House for four years in the 1990s.
He cites his work in helping the Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind on a couple of matters and his bill to give grandparents the first right to care for children seized by the state and kept in protective custody.
District 27 includes much of Tucson’s West Side, generally north of the Tohono O’odham Nation and west of Interstate 10. The district also includes much of downtown and goes north to the Ina Road area.
The Tucson Citizen endorses Republican Robert Westerman for the state Senate in District 27.