Arizona Senate, District 17

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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  • J.D. Mesnard
    (Rep)

  • Candidate picture

    Steve Weichert
    (Dem)

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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?

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Age 48
Family Maria (Spouse) Caitlin (16) Sara (11)
Twitter @SteveWeichert
Campaign Phone (480) 221-4470
For the better part of the last decade, I have worked tirelessly to develop trusted and lasting relationships within the many diverse communities that make up Legislative District 17. During this time, I've demonstrated a willingness to serve every member of my community, including those who may not necessarily agree with me on each and every issue. While members of the current legislative majority have been myopically focused on strategies to reduce taxes and serving the needs of special interests, I've been very vocal about my desire to address real and pressing issues that face working families every day in my community and state. Further, I've also demonstrated a sincere desire to interact with members of my district on a meaningful and personal level. While there are those who seek elected office to satisfy needs for power, money or recognition, my only goal is to become a trusted public servant and statesman.
Had I been a voting member of the State Senate during the last session, I would have voted in opposition to the teacher pay-raise plan - not because I believe that our state educators don't deserve a raise (because they absolutely do). The fact is that the final budget legislation did not go far enough to support our educators and students. Amendments proposed by our Democratic representatives such as decreasing student to counselor ratios, limiting classroom sizes, improving charter school transparency and accountability, and widening the definition as to who should be designated as a "teacher" were all summarily denied by our majority party. Further, I'm concerned that the Governor's 20x2020 plan is based upon a much-too-rosy revenue outlook - one not shared by the non-partisan JLBC. Generally speaking, the Governor's teacher pay-raise plan represents a good start, but much more work needs to be done to adequately and appropriately fund our public-school system.
First, it must be recognized that our state budget is a visionary and moral document that outlines our spending priorities. For 27 out of the last 28 years, the majority party in our State Legislature has myopically prioritized tax cuts as a way of luring out-of-state business interests to Arizona over most everything else - including the provision of a quality education for all Arizona children. This said, I would put a moratorium on all tax cuts until such time that critical programs and services are adequately funded - especially those concerning public safety and education. I'm also in favor of instituting comprehensive reform of our criminal justice and corrections systems in order to minimize the number of Arizonans that are now being locked away for non-violent offenses with zero chance of earned or early release. I also support the elimination of various corporate income and sales tax credits that have not demonstrated an appropriate return on taxpayer investment.
No. During the last Legislative session, Arizona lawmakers made some positive steps pertaining to charter school accountability. The State Board of Charter Schools was directed to develop clear financial expectations for charter schools, while also being given new power to revoke or refuse to renew a charter based on financial considerations. While these were steps in the right direction, the Legislature also imposed tougher procurement laws and penalties for state public schools and specifically exempted charters from the same. Further, District schools are required to publish annual budget information - charter schools are exempted from this requirement as well. Understanding that charter schools within our state are funded by taxpayer dollars, Arizonans should have every right to audit how this money is being spent.
Yes. Here’s my position on ways to curb gun violence in Arizona: - I support the Second Amendment. My goal is NOT to take guns away from law-abiding, well-trained citizens who use them for hunting, recreation or protecting their families. - I support new conditions for who may own high-capacity, semi-automatic assault rifles. Their use should be strictly limited to highly trained, specially licensed and vetted gun owners. - I support more robust, universal background checks to keep these weapons out of the hands of people with a history of violence and/or mental illness. - We must close any loophole that weakens the effectiveness of these background checks – including those related to gun shows and private sales (Gov. Ducey eliminated the latter in 2017). - I believe that teachers must focus on educating our next generation of leaders, not guarding their classrooms with deadly force. We can find other, common sense solutions to improve security in our schools.
In addition to the actions listed in the previous question to curb gun violence in Arizona, our schools should be appropriately staffed by certified counselors (ratio of 250 students max to each counselor) and other educators who are trained to identify those students who may be struggling with issues of parental neglect or abuse, anger management, stress and anxiety, bullying and social isolation. Through early identification of these students and consistent behavioral interventions, counselors will act as a first line of defense for the prevention of mass shootings. Further, I believe Arizona should make a sincere commitment to provide assistance to those afflicted by mental health disorders, while helping to reduce the stigma often associated with mental illness.
Over the past 27 out of the last 28 years, the Arizona State Legislature has cut taxes (even during the last economic recession). As a result, we find ourselves in a position where vital government services and programs have been adversely impacted in order to offset this revenue shortfall. While I support strategic tax cuts when appropriate - especially those with a verifiable and measurable return on investment - I'm in favor of placing a moratorium on tax cuts until our current teacher shortage is addressed and our state's public schools are adequately funded.
Generally speaking, I do believe recreational marijuana should be legalized in Arizona. Far too many citizens have been incarcerated for use and/or possession of marijuana at significant taxpayer expense and disruption to Arizona families. Further, the potential revenue to be gained from legalization is hard to ignore, especially recognizing Arizona's pressing needs in the areas of education, healthcare and infrastructure.
No. The State should not interfere in medical decisions made between a woman and her doctor. As of writing this statement, protections afforded by Roe v. Wade are still applicable.
Thankfully, the Arizona Department of Water Resources and Central Arizona Project have taken proactive steps to address the risks of Colorado River shortages. (More than three million acre-feet of the Colorado River has been stored underground in case of severe drought conditions.) This said, Arizona should increase efforts to conserve ground and surface water. This will necessitate more focused efforts by state and local authorities to educate citizens on the need for water conservation.
I would absolutely support this law. Discrimination in any form is morally objectionable and is not something that should be allowed or tolerated in the public arena.
Consistent with my previous answer, denial of services based on religious beliefs is simply another form of discrimination. I would not support a law favoring state-sponsored discrimination.
True, sustainable growth for all Arizonans begins and ends with a world-class education. Throughout history, it has been demonstrated time and again that education is the key vehicle that lifts individuals out of poverty and spurs innovation and creativity. In a state where one in five Arizonans live in poverty, the Legislature has a distinct and important role to play in crafting a budget that prioritizes funding for public education.
No - I firmly believe that taxpayer dollars should be utilized solely to fund public schools. As it stands, inequality in educational success and outcomes is an issue in Arizona, especially when stratified by location and income variables. Evidence thus far has shown that wealthier families are more apt to take advantage of ESA's as a means of subsidizing parochial or private education. Conversely, for families of lesser means, private school tuition is often still out of reach even with a government subsidy.
I stand in opposition to Proposition 305. (Please see explanation above.)
The role of securing our southern border should be left to the Federal Government as it is a Federal issue. Any involvement at the state or local level should be minimal.
From what I understand, leaders in both chambers took the necessary steps to combat sexual harassment among its membership during the last session. This said, it is incumbent upon the Legislature to follow documented harassment policies going forward. There should be zero tolerance for intimidation or harassment of any kind.
As the Federal Government continues to erode the provisions and protections afforded under Obamacare, and as insurance premiums and deductibles continue to rise, I believe it's imperative that the State of Arizona take a proactive approach to reduce costs and improve access to quality healthcare. After all, no-one should have to go bankrupt because they’re sick, and no-one should have to die because they’re not rich.

It's certainly not a secret that Arizona's Medicaid program - Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) - is looked at by the nation as one to be emulated. With this infrastructure already in place, why not allow Arizonans to purchase coverage through AHCCCS at a reduced cost?
Man-made climate change is a real phenomenon that will continue to worsen if our global community does not take aggressive steps to address and alleviate the problem. From an Arizona perspective, the potential for extreme heat variations and long-term drought are very real possibilities. As such, we must identify creative and innovative ways to conserve water in our state. We also need to reduce carbon emissions by focusing on renewable energy sources, working together with neighboring states to do so.
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