Northwest Valley voters will see candidates for Arizona House of Representatives in Districts 21 and 22 on their primary election ballot, but all will advance to the November general election.
All voters will see two Republican and one Democrat on their ballots in both districts.
Two years ago an Arizona law was passed that allowed entities to save on election costs and declare a winner if there is only one candidate for a specified seat. However, that applies only to smaller entities, such as fire districts and school governing boards, and not to legislative or other state races, according to Karen Osborne, Maricopa County Elections director. In addition, the primary election is a nominating election, meaning candidates must still appear on the ballot even if there is only one candidate per party, she added.
In District 21, the Republican candidates are Kevin Payne and incumbent Tony Rivero. The Democrat candidate is Deanna Rassmussen-Lacotta. In District 22, the Republican candidates are Phil Lovas and David Livingston, both incumbents, while the Democrat candidate is Manuel Hernandez. All six will advance to the Nov. 14 general election. Arizona’s legislature includes two representatives per district.
Independent sent questions to each candidate for inclusion in this story. Mr. Rivero and Mr. Livingston did not respond the emailed questions. Their information comes from the candidate’s statement in the list of candidates on the Arizona Attorney General’s website. Mr. Hernandez, other than being listed as a Surprise resident, did not have information on the attorney general’s website.
With first-hand experience in the obstacles small businesses face, Kevin Payne decided to run for a legislative seat to try and make a difference.
An Arizona native and U.S. Navy veteran, Mr. Payne and his wife started their business, Kstar BBQ, and encountered regulations and tax code, confusing county and city taxes, and the many fees. He believes his experience equipped him to be able to make a difference by making it easier to start a new business, expand an existing business or move an existing business to Arizona.
“I also want to grow the economy by keeping taxes low, growing jobs through small business and regulation reform,” Mr. Payne stated in an email.
Ashamed of Arizona’s low national ranking for teacher pay and next to last for in general school funding, Mar Payne also wants to make a difference for education.
“I will do all I can to get some relief for our K-12 teachers as long as there is accountability,” he stated.
Mr. Payne does not believe that will take more than increased educational funding.
“I don’t want to just throw money at the problem, but I want to keep the good teachers here in Arizona to assist in our children’s education,” Mr. Payne stated. “Arizona has three of the top 10 schools in the nation, so it’s not entirely a money issue. We need to emulate those top schools and keep our best teachers.”
Married for more than 25 years, Mr. Payne and his wife have four sons and seven grandchildren.
Transportation is also a concern for Mr. Payne.
“Arizona is in a great position to grow if we have good highways and railways,” he stated. “If we can manufacture goods in Arizona and export them elsewhere that would be good for Arizona. We must maintain our existing roadways and be ready to expand as needed.”
He served as first vice chairman of Legislative District 21 (when it was LD9) Republican party for two years and LD21 chairman four years. He resigned as chairman to run for this, his first attempt at public office.
A former Peoria councilman, Tony Rivero is completing his first term in the Arizona House.
On the Peoria Council, he earned a reputation as an advocate for fiscal responsibility and open government. Fiscal responsibility will continue to be his top priority as he seeks to remain in the Arizona Legislature.
Mr. Rivero grew up in the same parts of the West Valley that are now part of District 21, attending Peoria Elementary School, Peoria High School and Arizona State University. He earned a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in public administration. In addition to his formal education, Mr. Rivero worked in the Peoria City Manager’s office, as well as other city departments, and was a volunteer for Senator John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.
Mr. Rivero believes his extensive knowledge of the district, due to his time in public service, combined with his commitment to serve the voters of District 21, will make him an effective leader in the state Legislature.
Concerned over the lack of funding for programs that benefit families in need, health care for children, lack of funding for education and the poor leadership the state has from the majority party, Deanna Rasmussen-Lacotta believes she has the qualities to help address those issues.
Raised in the Midwest, Ms. Rasmussen-Lacotta is one of 12 children. She helped raise her younger brothers and sisters. After high school she went directly into radiologic training in Phoenix at St. Joseph’s hospital, followed by nuclear medicine technology training in Colorado.
Ms. Rasmussen-Lacotta has worked in the field of nuclear medicine on and off for almost 25 years, collecting a BS degree in nuclear biomedical chemistry along the way. She and her husband moved to Arizona, with a home in Sun City, in 2013.
“I want to represent the people of District 21 because I have struggled to overcome challenges of injury and poverty,” Ms. Rasmussen-Lacotta stated. “I support education for our children; the fight for the right to vote; and want to support the elderly and sick. People want security, happiness and opportunity to grow. Unfortunately our Arizona Legislature isn’t listening to the people.”
Making her first run at public office, Ms. Rasmussen-Lacotta was a Rotary club president in Maui, Hawaii.
“I come from a large family of 12 children, so I have had to learn to get along with people,” Ms. Rasmussen-Lacotta stated. “When I was in college, I also organized the first CAL-PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) on campus. I do have experience in working with people to get things done.”
To battle political dark money, Ms. Rasmussen-Lacotta is collecting signatures to get a measure on the ballot to allow voters to strike down Senate Bill 1516, which allows actions such as firing an employee for not contributing to a Republican campaign.
“I believe the economic situation is out of balance and the working people are feeling the strain while the top 1 percent are reaping the benefits of globalization,” Mr. Rasmussen-Lacotta stated. “I support putting a cap on allowing school vouchers and tax breaks for wealthy families. Tax credits help rich districts get richer.”
Counting on his voting record and responsiveness in the community, Phil Lovas wants to continue his efforts in the Arizona Legislature.
Appointed to the House in February 2012 and elected to a full term in November of that year, he was Insurance and Retirement Committee chairman, Ethics Committee chairman and a member of the Health Committee during the 2015 session. His signature piece of legislation in 2013 was the bill that ended the elected officials’ pension plan.
“Newly elected public officials will no longer qualify for a lifetime pension,” Mr. Lovas stated in an email.
In 2014, his legislation included a bill to ensure the public is protected from unlicensed Obamacare employees and the “Right to Try” bill. It would allow Arizonans who are terminally ill to have access to investigational drugs that are not fully FDA approved in order to save their lives.
Prior to serving in the legislature, Mr. Lovas was a regional director of development in the hospitality industry and spent over a decade developing hotels throughout the western U.S. He is married with three children.
Mr. Lovas said he was seeking office again for three reasons — to respond and help constituents with issues and concerns, to continue working to create a better climate for jobs creation and to limit government spending and cut government when possible.
“The issue we hear most about at the state level is education — spending and accountability,” Mr. Lovas stated. “A couple months ago Proposition 123 passed, which will immediately place more funding into the education system.”
He believes the focus now must be more on accountability for spending and working to create a better school finance system that does not put pressure on the taxpayers with bonds and overrides.
Completing his second term in the House, Mr. Livingston wants to continue his work there.
He plans to continue to focus on improving the economy, encouraging job growth, strengthening the family unit, protecting Arizona’s sovereignty and restoring Constitutional rights. He advocates for secure borders and has a 100 percent pro-life and pro-Second Amendment record. Mr. Livingston also continues to fight to stop Common Core and restore control over the school curriculum back to Arizona parents and teachers.
“As the House Majority Whip, I was very involved in passing our balanced budget (with no accounting gimmicks) and increasing education funding by hundreds of millions of dollars, without raising taxes,” Mr. Livingston stated.
For his votes, he received both the “Friend of the Family” award and the “Hero of the Taxpayer” award, and in 2015 accepted the Chamber of Commerce and Industry “Legislator of the Year Award.”
“You are my bosses, and I pledge to continue working hard for you and hope that you will communicate with my office directly when there are items of importance to you,” he stated. “As always, I ask for your vote, and thank you in advance for your support.”