Oct. 24, 2004
Tribune Election 2004 Special Section
The challengers hoping to be elected to the Arizona Corporation Commission are basing their campaigns largely on the argument that whatever current regulators are doing, they can do it better.
Democrats Nina Trasoff and Mark Manoil have few disputes with most of what the commission has done. They believe people who sell securities without state licensure should be punished. Both want more people to have access to broadband telephone service for high-speed Internet connections. They think the state should have more authority to not only inspect interstate pipelines but also to impose fines. And they support making sure utility customers are not penalized with higher rates when a company is sold, an issue coming up with the proposed acquisition of Unisource.
What that has left as their biggest issue is a complaint that the current all-Republican commission has permitted construction of too many gas-fired power plants that will be using Arizona water and polluting Arizona air to provide power for California. The pair even produced a glossy campaign mailer, complete with a picture of the illuminated "Hollywood’’ sign.
But they face the task of unseating a commission that has not riled up consumers. That’s because there are no double-digit rate hikes like there were in the 1970s and ’80s.
The Republicans — Bill Mundell, Jeff Hatch-Miller, Mike Gleason and Kris Mayes — have chosen to pretty much run as a team, billing themselves as the most effective commission in years. They pooled their cash to purchase a billboard along Interstate 10 with their five pictures on it — including Marc Spitzer, who is not up for re-election this year.
Only Rick Fowlkes, trying to unseat Mayes, has major policy differences with the incumbents: As a Libertarian, he wants less government regulation and more freemarket competition.
He even has a plan to expand the service territories of electric companies to force them to go head-to-head in competing for consumers.
Mayes, appointed last year after the resignation of Jim Irvin, is required by law to seek election to the remaining two years in that post.
Manoil and Trasoff are up against the other three Republicans, all former lawmakers who are seeking new full four-year terms of their own.
A third Democratic contender dropped out of the race.