Legislative District 27 on Tucson’s West Side has drawn a diverse group of candidates seeking its two seats in the state House.
Two Democrats, a Republican, a Green and a Libertarian will be on the Nov. 4 general election ballot. Our endorsement goes to the same two candidates as two years ago: Democratic incumbents Phil Lopes and Olivia Cajero Bedford.
If re-elected, both Cajero Bedford and Lopes would be serving their final two years in the state House because of term-limit laws. Both have done laudable work for six years.
Also in the race are Libertarian Mark Phelps, Republican J.D. “Duke” Schechter and Kent Solberg, a Green.
Of the three, Solberg shows promise and has thoughtful ideas. Phelps and Schechter are far out of their league.
Lopes is one of the state’s outstanding legislators. His Democratic colleagues in the House have chosen him their leader for the past four years.
He is a strong advocate for education at all levels and was one of the legislative champions for state-funded, voluntary all-day kindergarten for Arizona youngsters.
Despite his position as a member of the minority party, Lopes has had a major role in helping craft palatable and workable budgets the past two years.
That experience will be even more crucial in 2009.
Cajero Bedford brings a deep sense of social responsibility to the Legislature – much of it instilled by her parents, Bernardo and Carmen Cajero, both of whom served in the Legislature.
Cajero Bedford has been a staunch voice for education, social services, health care and services for elderly people.
She introduced legislation last year that would have provided $1 in state funding for every $3 in new donations to cancer research, as both an economic boost and a way to help people with cancer. Unfortunately, her bill, like all that sought money in this down budget year, failed.
Solberg, who with his wife owns a local tool business, has long been politically active – back as far as the recall effort of disgraced then-Gov. Evan Mecham in the late 1980s. More recently, Solberg opposed the Regional Transportation Plan, which was OK’d.
He exhibits solid understanding of the depth of the state’s budget problems, saying that instead of small trimming, legislators must identify entire programs that can be lopped off.
Solberg puts education, health care and social services at the top of his priorities. He says the state should reconsider its leap into charter schools and find ways to divert people from prison as a humanitarian and financial move.
We don’t disagree with any of that, but he cannot match the experience of Lopes and Cajero Bedford.
Phelps is unclear on many aspects of state government, saying local police departments should receive more money – something legislators don’t oversee.
He also says public education should be more privatized. No thanks.
Schechter is opposed to a government-mandated minimum wage, would funnel tax money to private schools through vouchers and wants the state to establish a single-payer health insurance program. We don’t agree with any of that.
District 27 encompasses 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. Each voter may pick two House members.
The Tucson Citizen endorses Democrats Phil Lopes and Olivia Cajero Bedford for the two state House seats in District 27.