Arizona Senate, District 16

Arizona's 30 state senators each represent a unique district of voters. Republicans have held the majority in recent years, although most recently by only a handful of votes.The job pays $24,000 a year, plus mileage and per-diem during session.

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  • Candidate picture

    Benjamin Carmitchel
    (Dem)

  • David Christian Farnsworth
    (Rep)

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Biographical Information

Why are you the best person for the job?

Do you support the teacher pay-raise plan passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Doug Ducey? Why or why not?

State funding for Arizona schools remains below pre-recession levels. How should the state address funding for its schools in next year’s budget? How would you pay for any increases?

Does Arizona do enough to require accountability and transparency for charter schools?

Would you support stricter gun laws, including raising the minimum age to 21 for all gun purchases, banning bump stocks and universal background checks on gun sales between private parties?

What should Arizona do to prevent mass shootings in schools?

As a legislator, would you be inclined to support additional tax cuts for individuals or businesses? If so, which taxes would you like to see reduced?

Should recreational marijuana use be legalized in Arizona? Why or why not?

Has Arizona taken the right approach by increasing restrictions on abortion providers and clinics? Why or why not?

What should Arizona be doing to prepare for a potential water-shortage declaration on the Colorado River?

Would you support a statewide law that bans discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in public accommodations, such as restaurants and other businesses? Why or why not?

Would you support a statewide law to allow business owners and others to deny services to customers based on religious beliefs? Why or why not?

In terms of the economy, how can the Legislature best encourage sustainable growth that benefits people of all income levels?

Do you support further expanding the Empowerment Scholarship Account program, which provides state funding for private-school education?

What is your position on Proposition 305, the ballot measure that would repeal the Legislature’s 2017 expansion of the voucher program?

What role should Arizona play in helping the federal government secure the border with Mexico?

Has the Legislature done enough to address concerns about sexual harassment among its membership?

Is there an issue not mentioned about that you feel hasn’t received enough attention at the Capitol? How would you address it?

What is the greatest threat to Arizona’s future, and how would you address it?

Last spring, lawmakers – at the direction of the governor’s office – opted to not authorize the state’s expenditure of $56 million in federal aid for child-care costs for the working poor. Should the state accept the $56 million? Why or why not?

Family members who take in their relative’s children when the kids are removed from their parents’ home get a sliver of the money paid to foster parents, about $45 a month, compared to $650. What responsibility, if any, does the state have to these family members? Should they be paid the same as foster parents?

Age 42
Family Wife: Kristi Carmitchel Sons: Chris and Carver Daughter: Piper
Twitter @bencarmitchel
Campaign Phone (602) 635-2020
As a small business owner, parent, part-time teacher and activist, I’m uniquely qualified to represent the voters of the 16th District. I graduated from Southern Illinois University in 1998 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electronics. Shortly thereafter, I started a one-man small business. Through 20 years of hard work and persistence, my business enjoyed strong growth, and now has locations in the US and Canada. With this experience, I understand how to create business-friendly policies that provide incentives for innovation without providing unfair corporate tax breaks, and I’m dedicated to bringing high-paying jobs to Arizona. One of the most important part of bringing jobs to Arizona starts with a strong K-12 school system. After all, parents do not want to move to an area where their children will not have abundant educational opportunities. This is a primary reason I am running for office; to bring better funding to our public school system.
No. In four words, too little, too late. RedForEd got things moving. It accomplished great things. It motivated dozens of candidates to run for office, including myself, but it did little to affect legislation. It's an amazing start. Rather than call it a pay-raise plan, let's call it Ducey's bag of tricks. Ducey's bag of tricks cut a key environmental incentive (free registration for electric vehicles) and raised taxes on everyone by increasing car registration fees and cutting funding in other areas. The teacher raise also depends heavily on growth of our economy; without new revenue magically appearing in our budget, teacher pay is not sustainable. It's like saying: "sure, you can have your raise, as long as we make more money". This is why none of the Democratic legislature voted for the plan. What Ducey's bag of tricks lacks is a dedicated source of revenue, and I've got a much better plan to make this happen.
I’ve learned that, by far, the main problem with our public school system was the introduction of publicly-funded charter and private schools. This happened in the late 1990’s, when Arizona’s public school system was ranked 19th in the nation. Simply put, these programs divert money from our public school system and spread our tax dollars way too thin. If public funding of private schools and charters were never introduced, it’s estimated that Arizona’s public school system would still be ranked within the top 20 in the nation! Since the introduction of public money flowing to private schools, more and more tax dollars have to be diverted. The only way for Public schools to thrive now is by relying on local tax referendums. I plan to reverse this downward spiral by completely eliminating public funding to private schools and holding charters accountable. It’s a bold move, but a necessary step that must be done to save our schools without raising taxes.
No. If you are a parent who brings your child to a private charter school that that relies on public funding, I'm afraid you've been fooled. Most charter schools are simply small businesses operating to make a profit. They fool you with "A" ratings and a lot of smoke and mirrors. The people operating these schools must make a profit, and this is where our state is losing so much money. The Charter buildings and everything them are privately owned and rented back to the school to make big money, and public tax dollars are paying for it. Charter owners are allowed to tell everyone that they are "public schools," which is a joke. It's a booming business; that's why many members of the Arizona legislature got in on it. In a flagrant display of conflict of interest, Rep. Eddie Farnsworth openly operates Benjamin Franklin Charters while casting votes for the very schools he owns. He's not the only one. Forget about accountability, we must stop public funding of charter schools now.
I do not support raising the age limit to 21. As long as we send our sons and daughters into battle at the age of 18, I think they're old enough to own a gun. Of course bump stocks should be banned -these turn an ordinary gun into a fully automatic machine gun. Yes, I support background checks any time a gun is sold. Do I support outlawing the AR-15 or other weapons? Absolutely not. What's interesting is that the AR-15 is not a very good weapon. It tends to lock up, and there are much better, more powerful choices if you're a ranger or enthusiast. What makes the AR-15 different, is that it's scary-looking. Aesthetics. It looks like something you'd take into a war. There are dozens of more powerful and reliable choices, including the Ruger mini-30, which looks like a hunting rifle, with a wooden stock and long barrel, but add a 30-round clip, and you've basically got a semi-automatic AR-47. Bottom line, any gun can kill, which leads to the next question.
One thing that people don't seem to understand is that we have a huge mental health crisis on our hands, the likes of which this country has never seen. Mass shootings and suicides have tripled over the last three decades. We must take drastic measures to remove the stigma surrounding mental health problems, including public awareness campaigns. It's not a coincidence that at about the same time that our federal government cut funding to mental health centers, we started seeing a rise in mass shootings and suicides. In the 1970's and early 80's we had federal funding of community mental health centers. These centers got a bad rap due to bad practices and were eliminated. If you've ever seen "One Flew Over the Cuckoos Next," you know what I mean. But with today's medical advancements, re-introducing federal mental health funding would be a wonderful achievement. Bringing back these mental health facilities may be just the answer we need.
I would love to see property taxes reduced. This can happen. The reason property taxes are often so high is due to local public school referendums, which are absolutely necessary right now. But if we can eliminate funding to private and charter school businesses, we'll be pushing about $4 billion dollars back into our public school system. Districts won't need that extra local property tax money any more, and we can enjoy home ownership without the burden of so much property tax. As I said before, our taxes are already being spread too thin through the abuse by private and charter school operators. We must eliminate ESA's (vouchers). Prop 305, which voters will be deciding on in November, actually expands the voucher program drastically. Voters must remember to vote "NO" on prop 305
Marijuana has been sensationalized in movies and TV, but it's really not that big of a deal. We have larger issues. I believe that cannabis should be de-criminalized at the federal and state levels. I don't think anyone should spend a night in jail due to possession or use of it. I do not support fully legalizing marijuana at a state level, because it is still illegal federally, and it would also allow children to access things like cannabis gummies and candies. Colorado has been dealing with this problem. If it's medicine, then let's let a doctor prescribe it. If it's recreational like alcohol, then let's treat it that way. But just flatly saying "I'm pro-legalization" is a half-baked statement.
No. Arizona has broken the law when it comes to putting restrictions of abortion providers and clinics. Personally, I do not believe in abortion. In some cases, I think its acceptable, such as when the mother is in danger or the fetus has major problems. But in general, I hate the idea and it really makes me sick; however, I also feel that this is a decision that should be made between a woman and her doctor, not me. Abortion is a national issue which must be handled at the federal level. With the retirement of Justice Kennedy recently, we may see a reversal of Roe vs. Wade. We certainly live in interesting times. If I have to make a decision involving abortion at the state level, it will not be something I take lightly, and I'll listen to the people who I represent.
First of all, we need to bring in non-corrupted members to the Arizona Corporation Commission. The current members of the commission have been compromised by special-interest money. There are two seats open. We need to elect leaders like Sandra Kennedy, Bill Mundell and Kiana Sears. Right now, everyone can help by conserving water in every way possible. Outside, replacing non-native plants with desert plants is a great way to improve efficiency. Then there are obvious things like turning off the faucet when brushing your teeth. Carefully place a brick or large rock in your toilet tank to reduce the amount of water used when flushing. These are the realities that we must face when living in a desert.
Yes, absolutely. I have no tolerance for discrimination against any person based on their beliefs, race or gender.
No, absolutely not. I have no tolerance for discrimination. Judging a person based on race, religion or gender is wrong. This is 2018, not 1955. We've already fought that battle. We need legislators who will stand up for what's right.
One of the most important things we can do to bring jobs to Arizona starts with a strong K-12 public school system. After all, parents do not want to move to an area where their children will not have abundant educational opportunities. By better funding our schools through the state, we can help reduce the property tax burden on families. Propositions introduced by the people, such as InvestInEd are a great solution to dividing up our income taxes fairly, and I believe we can push this even further. Overall, I'm against raising taxes unless it involves education. Our taxes are already very high, and I believe there is ample opportunity to make our government far more efficient and far less corrupt.
No. Not only do I oppose expansion of ESA's, but I want to eliminate them altogether. The ESA program has been draining our public education funds for years, and lining the pockets of the wealthy, some of which are our own state legislators. ESA's were supposedly created to help students with disabilities, but the truth is, the program was designed to be abused. First of all, there is no better place for a student with a disability than a public school. The resources that a public school can and must provide far exceeds capabilities of private schools. ESA's put nearly all of a child's public education money onto a debit card and handed to the parent. Yes, you read it right, a debit card that can be used for anything. On top of this, there is no system in place to track or regulate how this money is spent. There are documented cases where the debit cards were used for abortions and HDTV's. School vouchers are probably the worst idea I've ever heard of in my life, to put it lightly.
Vote NO! This is probably the most important vote to save public education. If this proposition passes, then public tax dollars meant for public schools will instead be allowed to flow freely to private religious groups and about everywhere else. Proposition 305 should instead be called "Confusion 101". It all started when vouchers were declared unconstitutional by the Arizona state Supreme Court -they are illegal. So lawmakers backtracked and created the term "ESA" which stands for Empowerment Scholarship Program. ESA's are simply a workaround -another name for vouchers. Lawmakers voted to expand the vouchers to every child in the state, but the not-for-profit, grass-roots group, Save Our Schools Arizona, said, hold on a minute, I don't think so! They launched campaign to let voters decide, and the courts agreed. Now we must remember to vote "NO" on proposition 305, and not get confused at the ballot.
This is an interesting question. The borders of the United States are protected by our federal government. I think what Arizona does depends a lot on the events currently unfolding in front of us. It is certainly a tragedy to see children separated from their families, the likes of which we have not seen since the Holocaust. The state of Arizona should, if the opportunity arises, step up and support those individuals who are entering our country legally, such as people seeking asylum. We should ensure that companies like Southwest Key Programs Inc., a company operating out of Tucson that was paid a half billion of our tax dollars to house separated children, abide by Arizona law a ensure the humane treatment of children. Representative Stave Farley has been leading a group of legislators in an effort to curb the illegal an inhumane treatment of these children in our state. I commend his valiant efforts.
I'm not sure since I'm not there, but I've read about the legislature ousting a Republican legislator of sexual harassment, and this is a good thing. I will advocate a no-tolerance policy when it comes to sexual harassment.
Our environment. Arizona enjoys more sunlight than any other state. We should be first when it comes to solar power, but instead we're somewhere in the middle. This is because big business, like APS, want to sell us electricity that they produce so they can make billions. This is wrong. We've even moved backwards with the recent loss of electric vehicle and solar incentives. As your State Senator, I won't stop fighting for lower electricity costs and use of solar power. One great opportunity to use solar can be combined with our public education funding issue. Electricity is the second highest expense for our schools. Solar power is best used at it's source, before it has to be converted and pushed to the grid, where as much as 30% of that power is lost. Instead, why not install enough solar panels at our public schools to power them during the day, feeding excess back to the grid? It's simply more efficient. Let's get smart and become the world leader in solar energy production.
The privatization of our public school system is, by far, our greatest threat. Without good schools, people move away, crime rates go up, and everyone suffers. Our state legislature has failed by introducing public funding of private schools and charters in the mid-90's. Now we are faced with higher taxes and under-funded public schools. And to make matters worse, they now want to expand the failed ESA program. It's time to take back the legislature. Vote to put real people in our State House and Senate who will not take dirty money from corporations and special interests. Vote to oust the government leaders who are responsible for funding private education with public money. Vote NO on prop 305 and vote YES for the grass-roots candidates who want to see our state thrive!
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