Nov. 3, 2004
The status quo carried the day on the Arizona Corporation Commission as four incumbent Republicans led in races for four of the five seats on the utility regulating board Tuesday.
Jeff Hatch-Miller, Bill Mundell and Mike Gleason led two Democratic Party challengers in their efforts to hold onto their three seats. Each was seeking to be returned for a four-year term.
In a separate race, Republican Kris Mayes led Libertarian opponent Rick Fowlkes of Mesa to fill out the remaining two years of the term of former commissioner Jim Irvin. Irvin resigned last year under threat of impeachment, and Mayes, a Republican, was appointed by Democrat Gov. Janet Napolitano to fill the vacancy.
Chairman Marc Spitzer, also a Republican, holds the other seat on the five-member commission and is not up for election this year.
Democrats Nina Trasoff, a Tucson public relations specialist and former television news reporter, and Mark Manoil, a Phoenix attorney, ran for the seats, creating a five-way race for the three open positions. The candidates finishing with the three highest vote totals will win.
Hatch-Miller, a Paradise Valley resident, said he was "excited" about the results as they came in Tuesday night.
"I think the citizens have had a chance to look at us, and once Jim Irvin left the commission we’ve earned a reputation for getting the job done and doing it in a manner that people can have pride in," he said.
Trasoff and Manoil argued that the all-GOP commission needed more political balance, and Trasoff also said the board needed better geographic balance because all of the incumbents are from Maricopa County.
Trasoff and Manoil criticized the Republicans for allowing construction of electric generating plants that damage the environment in Arizona while sending most of their power to California. They also said the state needs to move more quickly toward solar energy.
The Republicans, while not aligned on all issues, said they had turned a previously dysfunctional regulatory agency into a more smoothly operating organization. The majority defended the additional power plant construction, saying the plants will be needed to handle Arizona’s rapid growth.
Fowlkes, the Libertarian, was skeptical about government regulations such as requiring use of solar energy.
In addition to regulating electric, water, natural gas and telephone utilities in Arizona, the commission enforces securities laws and railroad safety.