A Conversation With The LD6 Jobs Team.

Many politicians promise to create jobs and improve education if elected. But LD6 candidates Angela LeFevre and Doug Ballard actually have the experience and expertise to actually deliver on their promises.

Democratic Perspective recently had the opportunity to interview both of them. Angela is a former teacher, small business owner and executive with a Fortune 500 company. Doug is the former Director of Planning and Economic Development for the City of Chandler responsible for bringing Intel Corporation to Arizona. Although they are running as Democrats, both have been endorsed by former State Senator Tom O’Halleran, a Republican.

Indeed, if elected, the Jobs Team would be the first legislative representatives to represent the Verde Valley and Sedona since O’Halleran.

The Jobs Team is running against Brenda Barton, who sponsored a bill to declare state sovereignty over all federal lands in Arizona, and Robert Thorpe who has been endorsed by the Tea Party.

We began by asking what politicians can do to bring jobs to Arizona. LeFevre responded, “What our State Legislature has not done is to put together a budget that would actually help bring jobs here. What they’ve done is that they have decided to increase the number of loopholes that are given to corporations so our revenue is going to be impacted tremendously by 2014. Instead of that, the idea is to make it more attractive for companies to come here. The big answer is to offer an educated workforce.”

Ballard added, “I agree. I think part of the problem with the Arizona economy is that it follows a boom/bust cycle. There are some immediate things we can do. For example, the state lets out millions and millions of dollars of contracts every year, often times to out of state companies. But we should be giving Arizona companies, and companies that hire Arizona people preference when we’re awarding state contracts. That’s a quick and easy thing to do. It will have immediate results and, frankly, it will have a payback to the state in terms of revenue in terms of income tax or sales tax for material that these local corporations and businesses purchase.”

Turning to one of Arizona’s largest industries, we asked what can be done to increase economic development through tourism. LeFevre replied, “The office of Tourism has been cut dramatically by the State Legislature. We need to attract tourism here…not just from the country but from the world. And we can do this in a sensible, real way where we can work with the Chambers [of Commerce]; we can work with those organizations that bring tourists here. That means jobs. That means an expanding economy. We can do it sensibly by protecting our environment at the same time; working with the forest services.”

“Doug and I have been amazed at our opponents’ approach to this,” she continued. “Instead of this, they want to go the other way. They say the state knows best, let the state take over the lands. Proposition 120 is asking for sovereignty over national lands. That means the Grand Canyon. That means the red rocks of Sedona. That means all the beautiful national parks and open spaces that we have. Our opponents say they can manage them better. These are the people who could not keep our state parks open. These are the people who almost locked up Red Rock State Park and so many of our other parks.”

Ballard added, “It’s an ideologically-driven agenda. It was a bill that Gov. Brewer vetoed because it undos our articles of statehood. Of course, our opponents talk about secession and talk about withdrawing their consent, of being at war with the United States, and all this kind of stuff. We’re talking about a state that hasn’t demonstrated the ability to manage its own lands. They sold our state capitol for crying out loud. Our opponents continually and publicly advocate the sale of public lands, and what one of them has said is that we need to be more like eastern states that don’t have public lands. That strikes, not only at the very heart of our quality of life here in Arizona, but it’s a fundamental economic issue. We have a $16 billion a year tourism industry in this state, and people are coming – not to go to downtown Phoenix – they are coming to see the natural wonders that are the legacy of Teddy Roosevelt and others. To mess with that on ideological grounds is the height of irresponsibility.”

With regard to Proposition 120, Lefevre stated, “There are some fallacies I want to correct. The federal government did not cause the wildfires. Wildfires are caused, unfortunately, by storms or by people who are not being careful. What our opponents want to do is to use state resources and local resources to put those fires out. There is no way that wildfires could be managed by the state. Federal help is required.”

When asked about the status of education in Arizona, Ballard said, “The legislature has cut $3 billion from education since 2009. We’ve lost 7,000 teachers. While test scores for other states are going up, our test scores are either just barely treading water or are starting to trend downward. We have no economic future if we can’t turn that around. Yet the legislature spends countless dollars on prisons, making us the largest spender in the country per capita on prisons.”

The Jobs Team was also asked to discuss the connection between education and economic development, about Proposition 204 which would extend the one percent sales tax and dedicate it to education, about Kids Care and more.

You can listen to a recording of the entire interview on this website.

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