Gubernatorial candidate Jones pitches campaign to Mesa audience - East Valley Tribune: Mesa

Gubernatorial candidate Jones pitches campaign to Mesa audience

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Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014 11:30 am | Updated: 11:35 am, Fri Jan 24, 2014.

Arizona gubernatorial candidate Christine Jones introduced herself and provided a few details about her campaign to a collection of approximately 40 voters in Mesa during an event on Jan. 20.

Jones, who is a former executive for Go Daddy executive and attorney, spoke to the Leisure World Republican Club about issues central to her campaign, including some that have a direct affect on local residents. The five broader topics she covered, which she calls the five “E’s,” were education, efficiency in government, early immigration reform, ethics and economic development.

Of those topics, Jones said the one she sees as the top priority is economic development, which played a prominent role in Mesa during the course of 2013. The biggest project was the Apple plant that took over the First Solar facility in the city’s Gateway region, and the steps taken by the local and state government to do so, including the creation of a foreign trade zone, fit in well with her view of government’s role in business.

“Government sets the stage for business to thrive,” she said.

Job creation was one area Jones said Mesa residents have brought up during meetings, and she said additional topics with a heavy Mesa emphasis include “how to get out of the encumbrance the city of Mesa has been in over the last couple of years,” education improvement, and a goal of providing a closer connection to all Maricopa County cities.

Much of her speech to the audience centered on immigration reform, as her views align with the possibility of a path to citizenship for some immigrants, albeit one with some form of punishment and not for people in the country illegally. She also refuted the claim that Arizona doesn’t connect well with neighboring Mexico and its residents.

“Guess what; we’re not racist. There’s not a race problem in Arizona,” she said.

On education, Jones said a problem with the new Common Core standards the state instituted is a lack of resources for teachers, as she said the lack of funding has hurt the transition to the new standards. It was part of a general disagreement with having a state or federal agency dictate education across all levels.

“We have the answer, and it is built on the local level,” she said.

Currently, the field for the Republican primary includes Secretary of State Ken Bennett, State Treasurer Doug Ducey, Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, State Sen. Al Melvin, former Phoenix Indian Medical Executive CEO John Molina, and new challenger Frank Riggs. The winner of the primary in August will face off against expected Democratic opponent Fred DuVal, who previously served on the Arizona Board of Regents.

A poll taken in November prior to Smith’s entry into the race had Bennett ahead with a sizable lead, and recent reports indicate both Ducey and Smith have raised a significant amount of money in the early going. Jones, however, said the gap won’t play a factor in her campaign.

“My campaign will have the resources to be heard,” she said.

Despite the competition, Jones said she’s supportive of every candidate in the Republican field, saying there is no decision about picking the lesser evil in the 2014 race.

“Any of Smith, Ducey, Bennett or Jones would be wildly better than DuVal in this state,” she said.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-5647 or emungenast@evtrib.com.

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