White Mountain Independent, Farley brings campaign to Pinetop

By Trudy Balcom, 7/3/18

PINETOP — Democrat Steve Farley has a plan.

And he says he is the only Democrat who has consistently won elections with the know-how to put the plan into action. That’s what he believes will take him through the primary election against his opponents, Kelly Fryer and David Garcia, neither of whom have held elected office.

And that was the message he brought to Pinetop last week, hosting a community meet-and-greet at the local Democratic party headquarters. Farley appeared scripted and polished, but he wasn’t so stiff that he couldn’t respond to questions on the fly.

Farley is a political veteran, having served six years in the Arizona House and six in the Senate. Farley represents LD 9, on the north side of Tucson. He has served as assistant minority leader in the senate and is the ranking Democrat on the Finance Committee, and has served on the Appropriations and Joint Budget Committee.

“I’m the only person who has served in elected office … I know these people,” Farley explained, noting that he understands the processes of the state government and the people involved from the inside out.

“I understand how to actually move us forward, that’s key. I’m also the only Democratic candidate that has won an election. I know how to win,” Farley added.

Farley is not spending any time attacking his Democratic opponents, either. He has set his sights squarely on Gov. Doug Ducey. The winner of the Democratic primary will face the winner of the Republican primary, where Ducey also has competition with former Secretary of State Ken Bennett.

The Independent visited with Farley to talk about education, transportation, economic development and energy.

Education

Farley warmed to the topic of education, one of the most important in this years’ gubernatorial election. He said that he welcomed teachers to his office during the #RedforEd walkouts this spring that brought thousands of educators to the state capitol.

“When they came to the capitol, it was amazing,” he said with a smile.

Both of his parents were teachers, and Farley said that with his own daughters he got a parent’s-eye view of what he called “the devastation wrought on the public education system.”

Farley said that he spent time during the walk-outs educating the teachers on proper behavior in the Senate chambers, so they would not get kicked out.

“Teachers are galvanized to elect me governor,” he said.

His experience with the state’s finances has led him to develop a plan that he says would allow the state’s education system, from pre-K to university, to be fully funded.

Farley wants to eliminate corporate tax loopholes. While the state’s total budget is about $10 billion dollars, he says Arizona gives away $13 billion to corporations through 330 tax loopholes that he wants to cut by about $3 billion, in order to fully fund education.

Farley said that the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, David Farnsworth, R-Mesa, is with him in this effort.

“It can be done in a bipartisan way,” Farley said

Farley said that bipartisanship is important. “I’m concerned about the polarization we have seen, where we start to look at each other … as enemies, instead of fellow Americans. That’s a problem,” he added.

Transportation

“We need to start working together on a lot of things, and transportation is one where there is a lot of agreement,” Farley said.

Farley kicked off his political career working on transportation issues in Tucson and was active in the formation of the Tucson Regional Transportation Authority in the early 2000s.

He believes that state needs to invest $1 billion in agains transportation infrastructure, which he said will bring at least 19,000 jobs. He also supports increased funding for public transit.

He said he has always fought against actions to raid the state’s Highway Revenue User Fund (HURF), and to keep the dollars in that fund moving into road construction and maintenance.

Farley did not discuss any transportation initiatives in greater detail.

Economic development and energy

Farley said that increased funding for education and transportation will help Arizona grow new companies and business here. Another aspect of economic development he would like to see the state actively pursue is micro-lending to very small companies, to help them grow here at home.

“Ducey’s entire economic development strategy is to find some big call center, data center. His other idea is to allow big, unproven tech companies to come here and experiment on us, like Theranos, or Uber self-driving cars,” Farley said dismissively, noting two companies that have faced recent scandals.

For energy, Farley is leaning into the development of renewable energy, but he says Arizona needs to do it on its own terms, not necessarily follow the model of California’s NetGen Climate initiative.

“I support renewable energy 100 percent, but I think we can do it our way,” he said.

Farley sees renewable energy as a way to both mitigate climate change and grow the state’s economy. “We are where Texas was in the 1920s with oil, when it comes to solar,” he said.

July 3, 2018