Even small towns are not immune to this national election season’s partisan politics.
On Tuesday, June 14, three Republican legislators representing Arizona’s Legislative District 6 addressed members of the Mingus Mountain Republican Club, offering pointed criticisms of Democratic party officials and policy.
State Reps. Brenda Barton and Bob Thorpe joined State Sen. Sylvia Allen in their appeal to voters to prioritize Republican values — perhaps most notably, states’ and individuals’ rights to manage their own land.
Barton criticized homeowners’ associations, saying that there is “always a problem with HOAs” during election seasons. According to her, HOAs in the state routinely discourage or outright try to ban homeowners from posting political signs in their yards — in what she says is clear violation of the law.
“They cannot tell you you cannot have a sign in your yard,” Barton said.
Continuing in that vein, Barton warned municipalities such as Sedona that restrict homeowners from renting out their properties to vacationers, vowing to reverse such legislation and allow homeowners the option: “It’s your property. You should be able to get a revenue from that if you want to.”
Thorpe offered further criticism of Sedona, saying that consideration of national monument status amounted to allowing the federal government to mismanage its resources.
“They’re going to trust the federal government to come in and take over their land,” Thorpe said.
Setting his sights on the Antiquities Act of 1906, one of the first federal laws to establish that archaeological sites located on public lands are important public assets, Thorpe said that the federal government is involved in “unconstitutional” legislation that allows the president to take whatever Arizona land he desires “with the swipe of a pen.”
Barton and Allen addressed state education, the former countering claims that Arizona is not spending enough on schools.
“Is half of the budget not enough?” she asked, adding that the remainder of the budget carries the full weight of all other projects and budgetary concerns.
Allen, who has acted as chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee since December, said that she has gotten tired of hearing people quote negative statistics about the state of Arizona’s K-12 education funding.
According to her, the rubric for measuring how schools are funded misrepresents the overall situation. Furthermore, she said that other states have more resources from which to draw funds — including larger shares of land not managed by the federal government.
“What we do with our money is what counts,” Allen said. “We can be very proud of our schools in Arizona .... Our schools are really doing a fantastic job.”
According to Allen, a major reason for this alleged success is school choice of publicly-funded private charter schools. She praised efforts that have allowed parents to choose their children’s schools rather than locking them into a public school district based upon residence.
Allen said that wise governance, prioritizing business growth, has created a good economic situation in the state — one that allows for increased funding for schools.
“We’ve got the money to start putting back into education .... There’s a lot of great things happening in state education.”
|Along party lines, House Bill 2447 passed Tuesday, May 3, which shifted legal notices away from newspapers and instead relegated them to an as-yet unbuilt taxpayer-funded state website. Gov. Doug Ducey signed it into law on May 12.
Those notices only have to be online for 90 days rather than archived in newspaper vaults in public libraries in perpetuity, potentially making it problematic for taxpayers to see who owns what and where money has been invested.
Regarding her vote to approve the bill, Arizona State Sen. Sylvia Allen [R-District 6] said Tuesday, June 14 that she thinks “the time has come” to not require businesses to post in newspapers. “It was totally because of businesses,” Allen said, adding that because the legislation is limited to the state’s two largest counties, Pima and Maricopa, it will not affect rural communities’ businesses and newspapers.
The Arizona Newspapers Association and newspapers around the state say the bill will hide potential corruption from public scrutiny.
The bill was backed by Arizona Speaker of the House David Gowan [R-District 14], who was forced to refund the state $12,000 after coverage by Phoenix area newspapers revealed illegal use of travel funds.