Business Had a Win on Election Day But…
The election results nationally mark exciting times and a sign of evolution as our leadership reflects greater amounts of diversity as a country. I think we should be proud of that achievement. The Chamber’s Board of Directors actively has set a goal to better diversify our Board to best reflect the membership, and it is encouraging to see the same change nationally. I will not comment on the national election results related to partisan politics, as we say here at the Chamber, supporting business should not be considered a partisan issue because growing business provides the tools necessary for a community to thrive. As always, the Chamber will continue to work with our federal leaders willing to engage on issues important to our membership.
Yesterday’s record-breaking turnout for a mid-term election resulted in big wins across Arizona for the business community. 72% of Chamber endorsed candidates won their election, along with 80% of the ballot initiatives we took a position on. Arizona is on a sustained track for economic growth, attracting new employers to communities, and unemployment staying low.
The Chamber is preparing its 2019 legislative priorities. This plan includes participation from more than 100 Chamber members, from different industries and companies, serving on the Board and committees working with staff to best articulate the issues that will have the most profound impact on our economic climate. We encourage ALL members to contact us to share what is important to you. Michael Guymon is working on local issues and Robert Medler is focused on state and federal matters. We are well positioned to continually articulate a back to basics mantra in support of commerce.
For the Chamber, the most disappointing result was the loss of Proposition 463 “Just Fix Our Roads.” According to our most recent Business Expansion and Retention (BEAR) survey, fixing our roads is a priority amongst our members but a consensus has yet to be reached on the most appropriate funding mechanisms. Multiple efforts have now come and gone in a variety of fashions to fund the repair and replacement of our dilapidated roads that actively are mentioned as an issue for prospective companies visiting Tucson as part of their relocation research.
If our Board of Supervisors, State Legislators, and now citizen voters continue to say, “No” to every roadway maintenance solution, how can we ever push forward infrastructure improvements when this is the one significant thing we need for economic development? Our community will remain in limbo, unable to make significant advancements forward as long as we remain stagnant in our ability to improve. I wrote an editorial for Metropolitan Pima Alliance after the previous failed county bond package lost dismally in 2015. “We can wallow briefly in the loss of [the] bond proposition but then we must dust ourselves off and resolve to improve the conditions of our community. If you think that a lack of communication was the issue- then talk to your neighbors about the potential projects that may be shelved now due to the vote. If you think that our community is overtaxed, then sit down with our elected officials and offer alternatives and solutions. Do you believe the wrong people are representing you? Then be willing to support someone else and engage in the process.”
These words were written a few years ago and still apply today. Be a part of the process. Join the Chamber in our efforts to fight for the necessary infrastructure improvements we need. It is unfortunate that in three (3) years’ time, the climate has not changed. The temperament of Pima County voters has not changed and yet the need for improvements has grown. I welcome your thoughts and engagement as we work to develop a solution to these needs. Let’s get back to the basics, work together and focus on the needs necessary for true economic impact.
Election Results and What it Means for Business
Arizona’s Congressional Delegation
The U.S. Senate seat at this time is too early to call, with Representatives McSally and Sinema within 0.92% of each other, and nearly 600,000 ballots remaining to be counted statewide. Nationally, the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate grew, with Republican’s winning four hotly contested races, and losing one. Look for the Senate to continue to temper the President’s agenda and put a strong check on bills the U.S. House of Representatives sends them.
On the House side, familiar faces will again be representing us at the Capitol. Representatives O’Halloran, Grijalva, Gosar, Biggs, Schweikert, Gallego, and Lesko all won their respective races. Former Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick will now represent Arizona’s 2nd District, and former Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton won the District 9 seat. Arizona is now represented by a majority of Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, which will hopefully lead to influential committee assignments, with Democrats clearly in control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Arizona Statewide Offices & Legislature
Governor Doug Ducey was reelected for another four years by a 17% margin, a clear sign of Arizonans support of the Executive. Look for the Governor to continue his practice of cutting red tape for business and working to attract companies to Arizona. State Senator Kimberley Yee is the new Treasurer, and Mark Brnovich will be returning as Arizona’s Attorney General. Two offices remain too close to call: Secretary of State and Superintendent of Public Instruction. Political newcomer Steve Gaynor has a lead over Katie Hobbs for Secretary of State. Frank Riggs has a 6,700 vote lead over Kathy Hoffman, so stay tuned for how the race for Superintendent of Public Instruction ends up.
The Arizona Legislature will remain with both chambers having Republican majorities. Look for interesting leadership decisions today and tomorrow on both sides of the aisle, in both chambers. Southern Arizona lost a seat in the House Republican majority, with Representative Todd Clodfelter not winning reelection. With no representation from metro Tucson in the majority, Tucson and the surrounding municipalities will have to rely on partnerships and coalitions to accomplish legislative wins.
Pima County & City of Tucson
The Tucson Metro Chamber supported two local propositions; Proposition 463 “Just Fix Our Roads” and Proposition 407 “City of Tucson Parks + Connections 2018.” The result was split as Prop 407, which only City residents were able to vote on, passed while Prop 463, a County-wide bond package, failed. As our position relates to roads and infrastructure, we continually work with Pima County to ensure revenue streams, either HURF or general fund, are focused on maintenance and repair of our roadways.
The City of Tucson has now successfully passed two “back to basics” bond measures; one in 2012 for road maintenance and repair and this year’s bond to improve City parks and multimodal connections. The passage of the Parks + Connections bonds come at a good time as Visit Tucson is undergoing a Master Plan update and not only do our parks help contribute to a positive quality of life but improvements to parks can help Visit Tucson attract more tournaments and competitions.