David Livingston is likely heading into his “junior year” in the Arizona House of Representatives after coming out of the primary elections as the top vote earner among all House candidates.
The current House Majority Whip leader received 24,178 votes, which he attributed to the residents residing in District 22, which covers Sun City West and parts of Surprise, Peoria and Glendale.
“But that isn’t necessarily a reflection on me,” said Mr. Livingston, R-Peoria. “It’s more a reflection on LD-22 and how much they vote. And they really try to pay attention and they vote. They read a lot.”
Fellow Dist. 22 representative Phil Lovas was equally as thrilled with the constituents in the area.
“Senior residents are the most engaged and knowledgeable group regarding state issues,” Mr. Lovas stated in an email. His 20,601 primary votes ranked third among state representative candidates.
On the Democratic side, challenger Manuel Hernandez ran unopposed and earned 10,686 votes in his district. That low of a number in a primary likely will not transfer well into the general election, according to Mr. Livingston. It is even tougher in a district and state which are mainly conservative.
“No matter who challenges us we take it seriously,” Mr. Livingston said. “In our district it’s next to impossible for a Democrat to win just because of the registrations. It’s almost three to one. If I’m getting 25,000 votes in a primary and they’re getting 10,000, that’s pretty tough to make up, no matter how good you are or how bad the incumbent is.
In other districts, the opposite may exist. District 22 is about 65 or 75 percent Republican, Mr. Livingston said, with Independents a huge factor.
“We have a lot of Independents in LD-22,” he continued. “And the Independents are typically very conservative. More than half are Independents because they don’t think the Republicans are conservative enough. That’s what I hear when I go and talk to them at non-Republican functions or other functions.”
Mr. Lovas said seniors often bring up economic issues which affect them directly, such as taxes and energy costs. The latter issue is going to be much discussed and debated as EPCOR plans to consolidate its water districts, which will affect Sun City, Sun City West and Youngtown. There is also Arizona Public Service’s move to charge extra during high-demand times for electricity.
“I take these concerns very seriously and always keep them in mind when voting.”
Mr. Livingston’s role on the leadership team keeps him focused more on state issues rather than necessarily a District 22 issue. But he said what goes on at the state level usually comes down to apply to his district.
“We’re really focused on economic engines and driving the economy, trying to get the economy to grow more so there’s more opportunities for everybody,” he said. “If it’s in (District) 22, or Sun City West, or if it’s in Tucson or Florence, I don’t really care. I want it all over the place. I don’t think government can do a really good job saying ‘We want extra growth in this region.’ You try to make everything more successful, everybody wins. From cutting taxes, cutting regulations, to improving transportation.”
He mentioned the lane improvements to Interstate 10 from Phoenix to Tucson as an example of last year’s budget helping out the state overall as far as safety and transportation are concerned. Mr. Livingston has not had any bills specifically for District 22, though he has supported and helped Sen. Debbie Lesko in creating a law allowing golf cars to drive on the right side of the road.
“That was a retirement issue but it applies to the whole state,” he said.
Mr. Lovas said there has been “good discussion” about eliminating the state income tax, which is collected among five bracket ranges from 2.59 percent to 4.54 percent. But he added legislators need to be very careful in any tax overhaul that might create an increased burden on people with fixed incomes like senior residents.
Mr. Lovas said he tries to attend as many forums and community events as possible to listen to residents’ concerns.
“It’s important to hear what people are concerned about so we can formulate appropriate state policy,” he said. “Whether it’s drafting a bill or working with state agencies to solve a constituent’s problem, I always try to make sure I am responsive to the needs of the district.”
The representatives host legislative district meetings the third Monday of each month at the Westbrook Village Country Club off the Union Hills in Peoria.
At 9 a.m. Saturday, the Sun City Grand Republican Club has a meeting at the Sun City Grand Chaparral Center, 19781 N. Remington Drive in Surprise. Mr. Livingston will be there.
“Sun City West and Sun City Grand are the two highest voting districts almost in the whole state,” Mr. Livingston said. “Being available is important to go to those types of things.”
Early ballots come out in less than 30 days. People will start receiving them on Oct. 14 or 15. Mr. Livingston said the number of mail-in ballots in District 22 is about 70 percent.
“Or they vote early and they take the ballot and drop it off themselves,” he said. “You can get the ballot in the mail, and on Election Day — and I wish the news would say this more — if you don’t mail your ballot in you can always bring it down here to the County Recorder or on Election Day you can take it to your precinct and you don’t have to wait in line if you have a ballot completed, closed, sealed and signed.”
And it is during the month of October when District 22 can get a grasp of who is going to win come November.
“We can track through the Secretary of State website how many ballots have been turned in,” Mr. Livingston said. “And we can look at what percent of ballots have been turned in versus what was mailed out. Once that gets to 50 percent, the race it’s over.”
Mr. Hernandez could not be reached prior to press time. Continue the conversation and read more at yourwestvalley.com for future updates.