Arizona House, District 28 {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

Sixty lawmakers, two from each legislative district, comprise the House of Representatives. The chamber has been under GOP control since the mid-1960s. The partisan divide is currently 35 Republicans and 25 Democrats. The job pays $24,000 a year, plus mileage and per-diem during session.

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  • Candidate picture

    Kelli Butler
    (Dem)

  • Candidate picture

    Aaron Lieberman
    (Dem)

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    Kathy Pappas Petsas
    (Rep)

  • Candidate picture

    Maria Syms
    (Rep)

Social Media

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 50
Family Husband, L.N. Ben Butler IV; Two children, Colin, married to Victoria; Cameron, student
Education Chaparral High School; University of Arizona, elementary education major
Work history Office Manager/Owner of Butler Family Dental in Glendale, Arizona; Office Manager for a San Francisco real estate investment and management firm; Executive Assistant to the Managing Director of a national healthcare consulting firm
Twitter @KelliButlerAZ
Previous public office State Representative, Legislative District 28, 2016-2018
Campaign Phone (602) 359-7446
Arizona has always been my home, and I care deeply about our state. I first ran for office to provide a responsible, moderate voice for sensible solutions to the critical issues facing our state: increasing support for public education to pre-recession levels, ensuring access to affordable healthcare, and keeping our families and neighborhoods safe. I am more convinced than ever that it will take all of us who care about these issues to make the changes we need, and I am excited to see so many teachers and students now engaged in #RedforEd and #MarchforOurLives. In my first term as State Representative, I sponsored bills to increase healthcare options, worked across the aisle to establish more accountability for charter schools, and offered amendments to cap class sizes and increase teacher salaries. I am honored to represent the people of Legislative District 28 and I look forward to returning to the State House to serve my second term.
I support our public schools, students and professional educators. I was proud to join teachers’ efforts seeking meaningful increases in funding dedicated to teacher salaries because our teachers are among the lowest paid in the nation. This low teacher pay has created a workforce crisis that we must address through sustainable, long-term funding our schools can count on year after year. I did not support the Governor’s teacher pay plan because the promised funding is predicated on overly optimistic, unrealistic economic projections, and it sweeps funds from other vital budget areas, including healthcare and environmental safety. Instead, the legislature should have worked in a bi-partisan manner to identify sustainable and dedicated revenue to restore public school funding. I am very concerned that our public schools remain millions short of pre-recession funding levels.
While there were additional dollars allocated to K-12 education in the 2019 budget, Arizona is still not doing enough to restore funding and ensure all teachers and support staff are adequately compensated. Teacher pay is a matter of workforce competition - we are not competitive when average teacher salary remains far below other western states. We must find sustainable, long term funding sources that will provide reliable, additional revenue. We should begin by examining tax cuts, credits and special interest loopholes to determine which are working to improve our economy, and which are giveaways of revenue that would be better invested in education.
Legislative District 28 is home to a number of high-performing district and charter schools; in fact, several high schools within our district were ranked among the top schools in the nation. We have a variety of excellent educational options, with the vast majority of families choosing their traditional public school.

Unfortunately, Arizona’s oversight of charter schools is among the most lax in the nation. As a result, we’ve seen charters fail financially, fail to meet academic standards and even fail to keep their students safe from abusive individuals. We do not have enough transparency in place to make sure our tax dollars are being efficiently and effectively used. I will continue to work in a bipartisan manner with stakeholders from district and charter schools to ensure that all schools are accountable to taxpayers for their use of public funds, that all children are safe, and that appropriate academic standards are in place.
I support the Second Amendment and the right of Americans to own guns. I also support universal background checks and a ban on bump stocks. While there is no way to completely prevent senseless violence, there is also no reason not to begin a conversation about public safety and to explore possible measures that could be effective in reducing violence.
When we hear that students are afraid to go to school because they don’t feel safe, we need to pay attention. One of the effects of underfunding our public schools for ten years is a reduction in professional staff members who should be on the front lines in this fight to identify troubling behavior and prevent violence of all kinds in our schools. Arizona has the highest counselor to student ratio of any state in the country and that is just unacceptable. I am open to other preventive measures as well, and would hope that we have the opportunity to have bipartisan discussions to determine what else we might do as a legislature to ensure student safety at school.
State revenue supports education, infrastructure, public safety and healthcare. Now that our economy is improving, we must develop strategic, long-range plans that reflect our priorities. Our goal should be an overall tax burden that is as low as possible, and we must work to ensure that taxes are broadly and equitably shared. As we revise our overall tax structure, we must decide on our state’s vision, and determine the revenue needed to support it, before making any decisions to further reduce taxes.
I do not support full legalization of marijuana for recreational use, but I do support regulated medicinal use. As a mother, I want to keep drugs out of the hands of children and young adults, and we should worry that legalization will increase availability and use of drugs by minors.
Our goal should be to make sure women have access to high-quality, comprehensive health care which includes reproductive health and family planning. Unfortunately, the majority party in the legislature has passed bills that erode women’s reproductive options and impose restrictions and unnecessary burdens on physicians. The government should not mandate personal healthcare decisions.
We cannot escape the fact that the Southwest’s long-term drought is increasingly alarming. By 2020, there is greater than a 50% chance that Arizona will declare a water-shortage due to low water levels at Lake Mead, which would trigger automatic cuts to our Colorado River supply. Our state must be proactive in working with neighboring states and Mexico through the proposed Drought Contingency Plan. It is imperative that solutions to our water crisis be thoughtful and nonpartisan — the legislature must work with state water leaders, including a broad group of stakeholders and experts, to ensure our state’s water future. Going forward, we should also consider additional reasonable conservation measures.
I would support such a law. I believe the vast majority of Arizonans are opposed to discrimination of any kind against any group of people in public accommodations.
No. I don’t believe the State of Arizona should be in the business of allowing discrimination against anyone based on religious beliefs.
The best way to encourage sustainable growth is to make sure we have an educated workforce, ready for the broad range of jobs in the 21st Century economy. We must adequately fund our education system, Pre-K through graduate school to ensure we are properly training our workforce, including focus on STEM programs and technical training. We must carefully evaluate our state revenues to ensure that we are able to invest in the transportation and technological infrastructure that will attract business and communicate our state’s commitment to thoughtful, consistent long-term planning.
Empowerment Scholarship Accounts were originally established to allow students with special needs to attend specialized private schools or to create unique educational options. For those students with very specialized needs, the ESA program may provide beneficial options not currently available in our public schools. However, we have expanded ESA eligibility every year, and the program is now well beyond the scope of its original intent. While our public school system remains among the most poorly funded in the nation, we simply cannot afford to divert additional dollars away from our shared investment in the public school system utilized by 92% of our children. Further expanding eligibility to all 1.1 million public school students would be irresponsible; at current utilization levels there are already documented cases of blatant fraud and misuse of ESA funds.
I will be voting NO on Proposition 305 because the proposition as referred to the ballot would allow further expansion of the ESA voucher program to all students in our state. We simply do not have enough revenue to fund a number of separate school systems and we must focus on improvement to our public schools, which is investment in our state’s future educated workforce. Further, there are not enough accountability measures in private and home school settings to ensure educational achievement and careful use of our tax dollars.
It is the job of the federal government to secure our nation’s borders and create thoughtful, comprehensive immigration policy. 
Following serious allegations of sexual harassment between members, the legislature took appropriate action to educate and inform members about current law and the ethical responsibility to treat each other with respect.
I know my constituents are concerned about access to affordable, high-quality healthcare. Last session, I worked with local and national health system experts to introduce a bill that would give individuals an additional, more affordable option for comprehensive health insurance by making it possible to purchase coverage through our state’s existing Medicaid program. I also worked on bipartisan legislation to allow pregnant women enrolled in our AHCCCS system to access dental care, which would improve pregnancy outcomes, as well as the health of mothers and children. And, I offered legislation to protect children’s access to affordable insurance through KidsCare. It was disappointing that none of these measures passed. I know Arizonans expect leaders to offer practical solutions to real problems, and that was my focus. However, because of the partisan make-up of the legislature, we did not have the opportunity for robust debates and community input on ideas from both sides of the aisle
The greatest threat to Arizona’s future is our lack of vision and leadership. We were among the hardest hit by the Great Recession because our economy was not diversified enough, and now that our economy is more stable, we must prioritize investments that will lay the groundwork for future prosperity. Instead of crafting policy to maximize our vast potential, we’ve seen our legislature offer narrow, partisan solutions. Arizonans need leaders who will work together to solve problems and create solutions that preserve our state’s natural resources, properly educate our children, and attract high-quality jobs and businesses. Instead of business as usual, our state leaders must focus on an agenda that strengthens our economy, improves our competitive position and enhances our way of life.
Yes. We know that when Arizona's low-income working families have access to high-quality child care, we are helping Arizona parents stay in the workforce and reducing instances of child neglect. High quality childcare is a critical and cost-effective investment in our children, because access to high-quality childcare ensures more Arizona children are ready for kindergarten and future educational success. This federal aid is a return of our tax dollars to our state at no cost to our state. As other states use these same resources to improve their long-term educational outcomes, Arizona will risk remaining competitive in the 21st century economy. As we plan for our state’s future, we should be doing everything in our power to invest in our state’s greatest asset – our children.
It is in the best interest of the children, of course, to live with family members when their parents are not able to care for them. If the state has removed children from a home, then the state must take responsibility for seeing that the children are well cared for, whether they are placed with licensed foster parents, or relatives. A bill was introduced last session that would have compensated relatives at the same amount foster parents receive, as long as the relatives were licensed or in the process of becoming licensed, and that seemed like a good compromise. I hope the bill is revived this coming session or that we have the opportunity to address the financial burden now faced by some families who have stepped up to care for children who are related to them and who are in need of a loving home.
Age 47
Family Son of Evie and Larry, one of five siblings (Lisa, Dan, Amy and Julie) Married to Jamie, father to Elise (19), Isaiah (12) and Theo (12)
Education Brophy College Prep, Class of 1990 B.A. Yale University, Class of 1994
Facebook http://aaron4az
Work history Teacher, South End Head Start, 1995 Founder and CEO, Jumpstart, 1994-2002 Founder and CEO, Acelero Learning, 2002-2015 CEO, Phoenix Spine, 2015-2017 Partner, New Profit, 2017-Present
Twitter @aaron4az
Campaign Phone (602) 738-2225
When I was growing up in LD28, Arizona felt like the best place in the world to be a kid. It didn’t matter who you were or where you were from, we all got along. I didn’t realize it at the time, but our political leaders demonstrated those same values by working together at the state Capitol. Regardless of party, they put the needs of all Arizonans first. Ten years of one party rule has allowed a small group of far right politicians to take sole control of our state government. The results have been devastating: K-12 funding is so low that teachers had to walk out of their classrooms to secure their first real raise in a decade. The state has zeroed out all support for our community colleges and slashed funding for our state universities. I am running for the AZ House of Representatives in LD 28 to make something happen. We need more pragmatic problem solvers in the Legislature who will work across the aisle to get something done.
I do support the teacher-pay raise plan -- but it is just a much needed first-step toward rebuilding our decimated K-12 system. First, we need to make sure sufficient funds are included so that the pay raise is real, and that all school personnel are included. Second, we need to begin to make additional investments in our educational system --- like universal pre-k for all four year olds, and support for our community colleges in Pima and Maricopa County.
The first thing the state should do is stop funding tax credits and vouchers for private schools. 92% of all children in Arizona attend public schools (both neighborhood and charter schools). We need to spend 100% of our very limited state education funding on supporting these public schools.

In 2016 alone, these tax credits amounted to over $230 m in funds that can and should go directly to our public schools as part of their base funding. For 2018, including vouchers, these funds will likely be over $300 million. Meanwhile, many of our corporations pay zero state income tax -- and corporate state income tax receipts as a whole will be below where they were in 1993.

We can do so much better in terms of education funding by simply stop supporting these strategies that cost a lot but help very few children. Combined with eliminating other loopholes in our tax code, we can invest dramatically more in our public educational system without raising new taxes.
Arizona does not do nearly enough to require accountability and transparency for charter schools. Charters represent an important option for many families, but way too many of our charters are performing dismally -- both financially and from a programmatic perspective.

Charters should be held to the exact same financial reporting and procurement standards as our district schools. Charters that are failing financially should be quickly closed. Even more important, charters that are failing from an educational standpoint should also be closed. We need a new Charter Schools Accountability Act with an explicit focus on governance, accountability, and transparency for charter schools - just like we have for our district schools.
I support the Second Amendment --- and I do not believe we need to raise the minimum age for gun purchases to 21. If we will put a gun in your hands in the military to fight abroad once you turn 18, you certainly should have the legal right to own a gun once you come home. But I do support banning bump stocks and I do support universal background checks.
The one clear line that connects all of our mass school shootings is the need for more mental health services and support. Nearly every single school shooter showed signs of mental illness in advance of taking the lives of others. Arizona lags far behind the national average in number of school counselors per student. Increasing the availability and quality of mental health services for teens in trouble could help with the prevention of school shootings. Additionally, thousands of individuals would have access to the support and treatment they need.
No.
Ultimately, this issue should be left up to the voters to decide. If the voters do decide to legalize marijuana, the state legislature should ensure there is a robust infrastructure in place to ensure its safe development and use. I do support medical marijuana and feel strongly the state should be more proactive in ensuring effective regulation of this fast-growing portion of our state economy.
Health care choices should be between a woman and her doctor -- the state should not put restrictions in place that interfere with that relationship.
The proposed Drought Contingency Plan (“DCP”) and associated agreement between California, Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico is key to delaying, and perhaps avoiding, a water-shortage declaration in Arizona. Ensuring that Arizona leads the effort to finalize DCP is the first priority to prepare for our continuing drought conditions. The Arizona State Legislature, in particular, must be well-prepared for the ensuing ultimate approval of the DCP during the 2019 session. Our legislators must start meeting with our state’s water leaders and coordinating with the Arizona Department of Water resources and the Central Arizona Water Conservation District Board (Central Arizona Project) to devise a reliable timeline to finalize and approve the DCP.
Yes. Who you love should not affect your access to public accommodations.
No. If you are open to the public, you should be willing to serve the public - regardless of who they love.
The key to sustainable growth that benefits all income levels is for Arizona to have an educational system that is world-class and produces the knowledge workers that our economy will need to succeed in the future. To do so, we need to finish the job and fully-fund our K-12 system, provide universal pre-k for all four year olds, and then restore state funding for our community colleges and increase funding for our four year state universities. By doing so, we can create a system that is the envy of the nation, and produces graduates that we need to power our economy in the coming decades. We should also work to make health care affordable and accessible to all.
No. Again, 92% of all of our children attend our public schools -- we need to spend 100% of our limited state education funds on supporting our public schools.
I am voting no on Prop 305 because I support repealing the Legislature’s 2017 expansion of the voucher program. That expansion is a perfect example of politicians being more focused on their pet projects instead of what works for all Arizonans. We never reached the cap on the previous vouchers -- and there was no one clamoring for an expansion of the previous program. Yet the Governor and Legislature rammed through a proposal to increase the total number to nearly 35,000.

We need more funding for our public schools -- not risky schemes that divert that funding and have zero accountability.
This is a federal issue -- but I am with the vast majority of Arizonans who want a secure border, and a legal immigration system that helps ensure our state can grow and prosper and ensures all humans are treated with dignity and respect.
As a first time candidate, I do not know enough about this issue to have an informed opinion at this time.
Over the last 15 years, AZ has made ZERO progress in providing universal pre-k to our four year olds. During this same time, over 30 states across the country have implemented robust pre-k programs that have been demonstrated to help save the state money in the long-run and help more children enter school prepared to succeed. We need to make a significant state investment in providing universal pre-k for all of our four year olds.

Arizona also has an amazing opportunity to provide additional education assistance to young adults who commit to a year of service for the state. This Arizona Corps idea could match the federal AmeriCorps Education Award dollar for dollar for every Arizonan who completes a year of service and then attends one of our local community or four year colleges. For just under $12 million annually, these Arizona Corps education awards would matched by almost $12 million in federal funds and provide Corps members with almost $12k in funds for higher education.
The continued one-party rule of the last decade is the single-biggest threat to Arizona’s future. In less than one generation, short-sighted political leaders have driven the state into the ditch -- nearly last in K-12 funding, one of the worst high school graduation rates, first in incarceration, and an economic performance that trails our peer states.

The Arizona I grew up in was a positive welcoming place that invested in its people and took a long-term outlook. Our political leaders led the way -- with Democrats and Republicans working together in the best interests of the state. We joined Medicaid and pioneered a medicaid managed care system that became a national model. Our Groundwater Management Act required new developments to certify they had a 100 year water supply. We were in the top 20 of all states nationwide in funding our K-12 schools.

We need to get back to that idea of Democrats and Republicans working together in the long-term interests of all Arizonans.
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Age 55
Family Husband, William; children, Nicholas (26), Christina (24) and Alexander (13).
Education University of Arizona - Bachelor of Arts& Sciences - Communications Central High School graduate Rose Lane Elementary
Work history For the last 15+ years, I have been an active community volunteer and parent in my children's school associations (Hopi, Cherokee, Cocopah, and Chaparral & Brophy). Prior to that, in the mid 80’s and early 90’s I was employed in corporate communications /public relations/ advertising roles for corporate, and non-profit organizations, such as Kids Voting Arizona and Arizona Science Center. I have held several leadership roles for organizations in our community (NCL, Phoenix Art Museum, Boys Team Charity, Republican Chairman LD28) The most well-rounding position I have had was (2 year time frame) for a job which I was not compensated. When I was elected Parish Council President of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral it was discovered church resources were in a critical state. I stepped up to dedicate my time to manage the day to day operations of the Cathedral, its property, facilities, improve communication with stewards, inspire others to volunteer, as well as lead the Parish Council. This was a 7 day a week commitment to restore the fiscal health of the Cathedral. The lessons I learned from my "church lady" experience I believe shaped my leadership skills more than any other opportunity.
Twitter @KathyPetsas
Previous public office I have never run for public office before.
Campaign Phone (602) 770-9002
Competence, courtesy, character and community roots have always been, the core standards of our community and my best traits to serve you in the State House. I bring experience and will listen and learn, I believe all perspectives should be considered and I will diligently work toward the best solutions. My grandfather emigrated from Greece to AZ before it was a state and I have lived in LD28 all my life. Through a family legacy of community service, leadership and building relationships with families, parents, philanthropic and business leaders, my commitment to public service is genuine. I will be a responsive and productive legislator. I am proud to be the only LD28 House candidate who has received all three of the following endorsements: Arizona Chamber of Commerce; Greater Phoenix Leadership PAC; AZ Association of REALTORS.I am honored Steve Chucri, Chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors; and Bill Gates, Vice Chairman of the Board are co-chairmen of my campaign.
Yes, I support the plan. The pay-raise is a building block in the effort to elevate teacher salaries, and move them closer in line to national standards. Arizona must be a competitive marketplace when it comes to teacher pay in order to attract and retain quality instructors. I am encouraged by the interest and action Governor Ducey, along with established business and community leaders in Arizona are taking to plan for future gains for public/community schools, teacher pay, and student achievement. I look forward to the work which still needs to be done through the legislative process.

We should remember which legislators voted yes to support this important first step, and which legislators failed to support additional funding for teachers.
This should be the top priority for the next Legislative session: long-term, reliable, sustainable funding source that funds education and puts money in the classroom. Classrooms are still underfunded when it comes to per pupil funding since the recession, and we should be coming up with ideas to responsibly get back to that level. At the same time, I believe we can find better way to direct dollars instead of the convoluted funding formula currently in place. We can eliminate outdated administrative and bureaucratic requirements mandated by the state and continue to explore creative opportunities for economies of scale throughout school districts and eliminate state tax on school construction projects. I am open to listening to all substantive solutions, and we should work together with all stakeholders to come to an agreement. "When someone is talking to you about their children, they are talking to you about the most important thing in their life"
I support parent choice in selecting the best school options for their children. No matter the choice, accountability and transparency standards should be consistent and required of all schools receiving public funds. Unfortunately due to the reckless fiscal management and loose procurement standards by several Charter schools there is a public demand to require greater control and oversite to protect how tax-payer dollars are spent. Charter schools should accept this fate and act accordingly to restore public confidence. Taxpayer dollars for education must be prioritized to support quality instruction, not enrich administrators and operators.
Common-sense laws which balance the safety of our community with the 2nd Amendment rights of gun owners is challenging but necessary. If there is a sale of a gun or a transfer, I do believe there should be background checks implemented regardless of the nature of the transaction. Only the most responsible, security minded individuals should have access to purchase and own guns.
No one should be fearful of attending school wondering when or where the next mass shooting will take place. This is devevastating to the psyche of our community and our students. As a mother of three, this is simply unacceptable.

I feel, the root cause of the mass shootings taking place is a lack of resources to address mental health issues. Time after time, we’ve seen violence after multiple warning signs were present however overlooked because schools and counselors do not have the support to do their jobs. The lack of funding for counselors in Arizona is astounding as well as the counselor to student ratio; it must be part of the next steps when it comes to a long-term, sustainable solution. I also support the option of trained School Resource Officers at schools to protect students and staff. Whatever the plan we must work closely with parents, teachers and administrators to ensure our schools are as safe as possible.
Arizona is a national leader in economic development and must continue to promote a pro-business environment. Treating all taxpayers fairly and equitably, allows for an even playing field, which is critical for businesses and families to thrive. A business-friendly tax code is one of the best ways to encourage growth and economic development. With frequent examination of our tax code and evaluation of the results tax credits play in creating new, high-wage jobs balanced with meeting funding needs in our state we will establish a reliable and stable funding source to continue to be nationally competitive. I am honored to be the only LD28 State House candidate endorsed by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce.
While medical marijuana is legally allowed in many states, including Arizona, I do not support the legalization of recreational marijuana. The negative impacts of full legalization include escalating healthcare costs, irreversible and harmful effects on our society and most importantly the greater ease children will have access to the product.
Patients have the right under the law to quality healthcare. A patient's needs should be provided for by medical professionals, within a regulatory framework designed to protect a patient's privacy and safety, not restrict access.
Last year we read of water policy discussions becoming politicized and stalled, proposed legislation did not address Colorado River issues at all. Presently however positive discussions are underway with a wide variety of stakeholders on a Drought Contingency Plan lead by Central AZProject and the AZ Department of Water Resources. With a shortage looming, it is imperative the legislature pass the contingency plan to ensure we along with the other lower basin states do everything we can to stave off shortage for as long as possible.
I do not support discrimination of any kind, there is no place for it in a high-functioning society and it is unhealthy in a productive business climate. (This type of bill was vetoed by Governor Brewer years ago given the reaction by the local business community and national corporations .)
In a thriving economy we increase opportunity to have many choices for our goods and services. Although I take religious freedom very seriously, denying services should be used in the rarest of circumstances. Those in private business have abilities to make decisions which may ultimately affect their business and that is the risk of a free-market economy. Those businesses regulated by state licensing through statute have rules in place which must be abided by and enforced.
One of the best ways we can encourage long-term improvements for income is to make higher education as affordable as possible. Meaningful state investment in high-quality, higher ed experience by means of a world-class university education, vocational or community college, the legislature has not adequately supported these options. The investment in higher education, benefits our students to be better prepared to enter the workforce and fulfill high-wage jobs. Several of our universities have success with bioscience research grants for health and technology. This is impressive as it is elevating research salaries and employing students. However it does not replace the need for the state to more adequately fund these public institutions for them to achieve even greater awareness and success.
Fully funding public education must be a priority over any type of ESA expansion. We cannot fund public education on one hand and siphon those very funds through ESA’s on the other. Twenty-two years ago when vouchers were implemented they were originally intended to help academically challenged students and those with disabilities, it is important to remember their original purpose as education funding discussions continue.
Although I strongly support school choice I do not support shifting of public dollars for private education. I have been consistently opposed to this concept. As we have seen from the reaction of parents and teachers throughout the state, there is strong opposition to this and a greater desire to fund public classrooms first. As a legislator, collaborating with parents, administrators and business leaders to continue to find innovative ways to fully fund public school classrooms, will be a top priority.
Arizona’s number one trade partner is Mexico, we must preserve and encourage the trade and industry partnership which benefits both our economies. We have witnessed the relationship between our state and Mexico repaired recently, and I applaud Governor Ducey and business leaders throughout our state for their bold leadership and cooperation.

The federal government holds ultimate responsibility for securing the border, Arizona can invest in public safety measures and innovative technology with law enforcement officials to help combat drug cartels, crack down on gang violence, and reduce the amount of human trafficking.
We need to elect the best people possible to represent the citizens of Arizona at the legislature and in all levels of government. Serious business occurs at the legislature in a rather short period of time. It is disappointing any time has been spent to address concerns of sexual harassment because members do not “know better”. Personally, I have little tolerance for this type of inconsiderate, low-functioning behavior.
Support for arts, culture and history of our state has been often been minimized. This past year the Arizona Commission on the Arts received just under $2 million dollars ( approx 1/10 of a percent of the total budget) to support the many arts programs throughout the state. The arts stimulate economic activity, build tourism, foster small business growth, build state identity, facilities often in the center of cites or towns thus creating a sense of community. As well as their economic benefits , the arts foster higher learning ability, improving critical thinking skills when children are exposed and participate. Public / private investment is necessary to support the public interest in the arts, constituents in LD28 are one of the most generous districts to the arts. Thanky you!
Water is the lifeline for Arizona. Ignoring the Colorado River long-term drought it is the greatest threat to Arizona's future. The public awareness, media and education of the effects the drought on Colorado River has increased dramatically over the last year. This complex issue needs wider reach among our citizens by optimizing the discussion of the Drought Contingency Plan , highlight the stakeholders and professionals who are leading this effort. Communicate the threats facing our state from a lack of drinking water, inablity for hydro electric power plants to function properly, limited access to recreational activity and environmental impacts. The greater the awareness the greater the need for a thoughtful plan and support from the community. I look forward to being part of these discussions and work groups at the legislature and keeping LD28 constituents informed.
We must accept, and soon, the federal aid for the child-care costs for the working poor. Arizona's population of children (of the working poor) is one of largest in the country. Taking preventative measures now, to benefit children's health and empower the working poor, improves workplace productivity, maintains the long-term wellness of our population and thus sustains a thriving economy. I am committed to the long term health and wellness of these children.
A child, separated from their parents, will have greater opportunity for personal success if they can be in the care of a loving, responsible relative. Relatives who take on care of children vs. being placed in foster care should have healthier stipends than the $45/ month. The federal preference funds available are for foster parents - funds for relatives come out of the state general fund. I support the need to make aid for relatives more fair for equitable to take on the responsibilities of neglected children.
Age 50
Family Husband- Mark J. Syms, M.D. Matthew, 16 Meredith, 14 Marinna, 11
Education B.A. Government, Smith College J.D., American University Law School Master in Public Administration, Harvard University
Work history LD28 Representative, Arizona State House 2016 to present; Assistant Attorney General, State of Arizona, 2014-2015; Councilwoman, Town of Paradise Valley, 2014-2016; Chairwoman and Member, Planning Commission, Town of Paradise Valley, 2003-2013; Assistant United States Attorney, United States Attorney's Office, Los Angeles, California, 2000-2002; Private Law Practice 1995-2000; Judicial Clerk, United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Philadelphia, PA 1992-1994; Intern, United States Senate; Intern, United States Department of Justice
Twitter @SymsforAZ
Previous public office LD28 Representative, Arizona State House, current; Councilwoman, Town of Paradise Valley 2014-2016; Chairwoman and Member, Town of Paradise Valley Planning Commission 2003-2013
Campaign Phone (602) 430-0472
As your Representative, I have delivered with wins for teachers, small business, health care, veterans, and public safety. It is possible to work across the aisle and put people before politics. My bill to test the 6000 rape kit backlog passed unanimously giving women justice and making our communities safer. My efforts to lower prescription drug costs led to unanimous, bipartisan passage of my bill with pricing transparency. My work with veterans led to bipartisan passage of my bills making jobs more available to those who served in the name of freedom. We had gains for small business with passage of my bill encouraging litigation savings and also my work to stop drive by frivolous lawsuits. The Opioid Epidemic Act and a $1.5 billion investment in public education with 20% teacher raises are historic wins. I plan to build on these successes as we continue to move Arizona forward with job growth, quality education, and safe communities. I would be honored to have your vote again.
Yes. I am the only Representative in LD28 who stood with our teachers, the Governor, Superintendents from across the State, Save Our Schools and the Arizona Parent Teacher Association along with many education advocacy groups where we promised the 20% teacher raise and delivered on that promise and more with an historic $1.5 billion investment in public education. While four Democrat Senators put our teachers first and voted for the raise, not a single Democrat Representative voted in favor of the raise even though they advocated for a comparatively low 4% raise the year before. It is time to stop putting politics ahead of our teachers and children. There is more to be done and as a public school graduate myself, the daughter of a public school teacher, and a mom to a current public district school student in LD28, I will continue to deliver on education funding so we can make attracting and retaining quality teachers and academic achievement a top priority for all families.
Not only did I fully support the Governor’s 20x2020 plan giving teachers a 20% raise, but I also voted for an historic $1.5 billion investment in education. I was a cosponsor of the extension of Prop 301, which ensures the continuation of about $650 million in annual education funding. This is in addition to Proposition 123, which adds approximately $350 million in annual education funding. There is always more that can be done to elevate the quality of education across the state. The Governor's plan demonstrates that due to our growing economy, we will have the necessary funding. The nonpartisan Joint Legislative Budgeting Committee shows general revenue growth significantly higher than originally projected, resulting in $150 million in additional annual revenue. Due to a recent court decision, we also anticipate another $200 million plus in annual tax revenue from out of state vendors. We will have to be open to looking at how to consolidate resources and maximize efficiencies
I am in favor of increasing accountability and transparency in public institutions and I am open to stakeholder discussions to improve any deficiencies. Charter schools are subject to independent, annual audits submitted to the Arizona State Board of Charter Schools. The Auditor General requires charters to report financial transactions and all meetings are open to public view. If a charter school does not comply, it can be penalized 10% of its state funding or it can be closed. As a result of this oversight, charter schools are succeeding in Arizona and have test scores competitive with top-performing states in the country. Graft and corruption can occur at all levels. We recently had a well-publicized incident in LD28’s Scottsdale Unified School District that involves accusations of fraud and embezzlement and multiple Attorney General investigations and felony indictments. We should always strive for maximum accountability and transparency across all public education models.
I support individual constitutional rights protected by the Second Amendment. Raising the minimum age to 21 for all gun purchases would eliminate active duty military, reservists and veterans from owning guns. With respect to bump stocks, the federal government has indicated that it is implementing regulations to ban them and I support that effort. Background checks on gun sales between private parties have not been shown to be impactful in reducing gun violence as studies show most crimes are committed by people who obtain guns through theft, straw purchasers, the black market or family members or friends. When considering the serious step of restricting Second Amendment rights, we should be focusing on laws that can have an impact on reducing gun violence.
The number one responsibility of government is keeping our citizens safe and that is especially true with respect to our children. Every Arizona child has a right to attend school in a safe environment. As your Representative and a member of the Judiciary/Public Safety Committee, I have been working with bipartisan stakeholders on a comprehensive plan with the goal of improving school safety. school districts should work with the Department of Homeland Security to determine their individual campus security needs. Depending on the school, these needs could range from security cameras and communications equipment to school resource officers and police surveillance. In addition, to physical safeguards we must include mental health resources as an integral part of any school safety plan. We need to commit resources to mental health counselors who are trained tospot at risk children so we can make schools as safe as possible.
I am always looking for ways to relieve the tax burdens on individuals and businesses, especially small businesses that are the economic drivers and job creators of our state. We should not be balancing the state budget on the backs of hardworking Arizona families. With our economy on the upswing and businesses finally seeing growth after the Great Recession, it is important that we keep that momentum going and that we reward and replicate this hard work and strong performance. It would be a mistake to penalize such success through more taxes. I would seek to simplify the tax system to create more uniformity, simplicity and fairness and reduce tax compliance costs on businesses. I would also look for ways to attract business to Arizona by making it more tax competitive. In the coming year, there is an opportunity for the legislature to conform and reform our tax laws so we can realize the benefits of the Trump tax cuts.
We need only look to the problems associated with recreational marijuana legalization in Colorado to see that it is a bad idea for Arizona. Since legalization, teen use of marijuana has increased in Colorado by more than 70% of the national average. As a former member of the Governor’s Arizona Substance Abuse Partnership, I understand the social, economic and health problems associated with legalization here in Arizona. In recent months, our public conversation has focused on maximizing the quality of education for Arizona children so they have the best chance to fulfill their potential. Recreational marijuana presents a direct threat to that effort. The increased potency also exposes our citizens to increased health risks, higher traffic fatalities, and increased workplace danger due to impairment. While some contend legalization will bring tax benefits to the state, those alleged benefits are erased by the increased costs to the state for health care and social services.
As a society, we should encourage a culture of life and work to reduce the number of abortions overall while being sensitive to the physical and emotional well being of mothers facing this decision. We have an obligation to protect the most vulnerable in our society and abortions should be limited to very rare circumstances, such as when needed to save the life of the mother. In addition to our responsibility to the unborn and mothers, we also have a moral obligation to protect and find care for the thousands of foster children in our state.

Arizona has been a leader in water conservation and has reduced its consumption over the years notwithstanding our significant population growth and economic development. Nevertheless, we face a looming shortage and future conservation challenges given our farming sector and increasing demands on our local water supplies. We will have to continue our conservation efforts and protect Arizona’s legal water rights and entitlements to the Colorado River. If such a declaration does come to pass, we will have to double down on conservation efforts and ensure that the state bears any shortage in a fair and equitable manner across the board. I will work with stakeholders to consider all options for protecting and preserving our water resources for future generations.
No one should be discriminated against for any reason. I believe in upholding an individual’s constitutional right to equal protection and due process.

I believe in upholding an individual’s constitutionally protected right to free speech and freedom of religion.
We are seeing small business confidence increase by 20% and our state annual revenue significantly higher than projected. We need to reward and replicate this growth. As your Representative, I encourage growth by supporting business-friendly laws that decrease burdensome regulations and taxes. Small businesses are the backbone of the Arizona economy and we must do everything we can to get government out of the way and allow the free market to thrive. Hardworking Arizonans deserve the opportunity to make a living and I will continue to reduce tax burdens, eliminate anti-competitive regulations, help small business and start-ups thrive, cut government red tape, reduce frivolous lawsuits, and promote economic development and recruitment efforts so Arizona is first for commerce and job creation. In addition, an educated workforce is key to economic prosperity and global competition. Offering a quality education to all Arizona children should remain a priority in budgeting.
As a mom to three children who have attended district, charter and private schools (one a current SUSD student), I personally understand that one size does not fit all. Parents, not government bureaucrats, are in the best position to make education decisions for their children. We should look at ways to reasonably expand school choice in Arizona to achieve the goals of assisting children who are not reaching their full potential without negatively impacting public schools. The opposition to the ESA program argues that tax dollars should not be used for private schools. With the GI bill, veterans can use public tax dollars to go to private schools if they choose. There is no similar push to eliminate this program. The ESA program is extremely limited in its scope – only .05% of students in LD28 use ESAs and public school enrollment has remained steady. With our $1.5 billion investment in education, it is clear that quality public schools and the ESA program are not mutually exclusive.
We must consider the legal implications of the Voter Protection Act with respect to ballot measures. If Arizonans vote in favor of the expansion of the voucher program, the law will be voter protected and it will be nearly impossible to make improvements. With respect to the limited 2017 expansion (capped at about 3% of all Arizona public school students), I have always conditioned my support on increased accountability, transparency, financial reporting and enrollment caps, which are now included. I have also persuaded many of my colleagues of the need to amend the law to give enrollment priority to our most vulnerable children, including those with special needs and those without financial means. If the expansion is voter protected, implementation of the reforms for the benefit of these children is highly unlikely. As a result of this potential consequence, I am in favor of repeal so that we can have an opportunity to improve the program to prioritize our most vulnerable.
Having served as an Assistant Attorney General and an Assistant US Attorney, I recognize the immediate danger presented when there is no respect for the rule of law. I have met with our sheriffs and ranchers at the border and witnessed firsthand the struggles they face as a result of the federal government abandoning its responsibility. As your State Representative, I have been, and will continue to be, a strong advocate for securing our border and protecting Arizonans from the drug smuggling, human trafficking, and violence associated with a porous border. I will continue doing everything I can to provide Arizonans with the peace of mind that comes with a secure border. This includes providing our sheriffs with the tools they need to do their job. Fencing, increased security, and monitoring technology in the most trafficked areas are critical. Better fencing may not prevent all illegal immigrants and drug cartels from getting through, but it is an additional deterrent.
While we have had a robust discussion on sexual harassment and a sexually hostile work environment, we need to do more to change the permissive culture between legislators, employees, interns and lobbyists at the Capitol. I have been a consistent voice for the implementation of a Code of Conduct. While we have made some progress with a written sexual harassment policy, we need to do more. A Code of Conduct should be a top priority if we are going to restore the public trust in our elected officials and institutions.
As a State we need to start an in depth conversation on mental health issues and how, if left untreated, they pose a threat to our economic prosperity, educational success and community safety. While we have often touched on behavioral health, emotional disturbances, and substance abuse, and have made some progress, including the bipartisan passage of the Opioid Epidemic Act, there is more to be done. Some areas we need to examine include, veterans PTSD issues, early identification and treatment of children with mental illness, the homeless population, and ongoing efforts with substance abuse. As a member of the Health Committee, I think bipartisan conversations with Committee members and stakeholders would be a good starting point to determine the best strategies. These issues should be given priority as they have a direct impact on the ongoing vitality and progress of Arizona.
The greatest threat to Arizona’s future is any effort to halt our economic progress and burden businesses that are just now seeing a financial upswing for the first time since the Great Recession. We need to continue to foster business expansion and job growth by reducing needless government imposed regulatory and financial burdens. With our recent business growth, the State’s revenue is significantly better than expected and with recent federal tax cuts, we are realizing the resources to make the needed $1.5 billion investment in our public education system. An educated workforce is the key to our future success as and we must continue to be vigilant to prevent any impediments to the economic development that will fund education.
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