Meet the Candidates: Arizona House of Representatives District 4 Democrats
The Yuma Sun is spotlighting the candidates for each contested political office ahead of the Aug. 28 primary election. Lisa Otondo, Juan Carlos Escamilla and Charlene Fernandez are Democratic candidates running for the Arizona House of Representatives District 4.
Name: Juan Carlos Escamilla
Hometown: San Luis, Arizona
Office running for: State Representative District #4
Political experience: I have served for 11 years in municipal government as a council member with last six years as mayor for the City of San Luis.
Family: Married to Yadira Escamilla and we are blessed with three beautiful children: Alexis, Daniela, and Juan Karlos
Party: Democratic Party
Please describe your platform: I look to create bold leadership. I am running because I believe in preserving the rights of the people I am representing. We are in a politically defining time in America where our core values are being questioned. We need to ensure that the state develops policies so Arizonans can get back to work. We need to restore funding for education, health care.
If elected, what is your first priority? Arizona needs to create jobs plain and simple. We relied on population growth and we need other resources to build a foundation to become a more job-friendly state instead of relying on how many people we are bringing to the state and search for alternative revenues other than raising taxes. Too often government is not only not helpful, it is the largest barrier that we have to overcome. Governments seem designed to prevent businesses from growing or hiring when we should be doing everything we can to encourage growth instead.
What sets you apart from your opponent(s)? My opponents do not have municipality experience, which will make a huge difference in the State Capitol. My knowledge of living and working in a rural, border town I have seen and faced the many challenges that our city and town face when legislation try to approve “one size fit all” approach. While in office, we were able to create over 1,000 new jobs and attract businesses to the city of San Luis. I have the experience in municipal government and have the understanding of the effect of a state’s decisions on local government. I believe in local government and local control and I believe a representative closer to the community is the most responsive to the community.
What would you do to achieve more transparency in government, and should government officials be in charge of managing those efforts? Transparency has often been promised and never delivered. Arizona citizens are demanding clearer and greater accountability for the way the government spends their tax dollars and uses its authority. Accountability should be seen less as a process for assigning blame and more as a process for agreeing on performance expectations; reviewing performance and feedback ensuring corrective action and consequences for individuals as necessary. Transparency provides information for citizens about what their government is doing and I feel should be a partnership with officials and citizens. Information should be disclosed rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use and officials should also solicit public feedback to identify information of greatest use to the public.
What do you think is the biggest challenge right now facing Yumans? The issues Yumans are facing in our state are the struggling economy, lack of quality education and citizens frustrated with government.
What would you do, if elected, to help change that? I will always work in the best interest of the state; use my best judgment and factor in the human element in all my decisions. I feel my experience and expertise will help and define District #4. I want to continue to make Arizona a great state. And move our district and state forward. We have to put a stop to our capitol’s “one size fits all” way of thinking because the damage being caused will take generations to undo and we are running out of time.
How would you rate how the current office holder is doing, on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the highest), and why? Since this a newly created seat for our district, it is difficult to critique our current representatives. However I do feel District #4 is in need of representation at our capitol and I feel I am that person to represent this area. I am a citizen who not only lives and works in this district, my children are educated in this district. I am running for District 4 because I am District #4.
What is one of your strengths? Weaknesses? I have many strength and weaknesses but don’t think there’s a single strength or flaw that would hinder my ability to function as a representative. I think that all of us have things we need to improve but I do feel I possess the capacity to cope with failures and trying to learn from past mistakes.
What is one thing that you want voters to know? I’m a proven community leader, young and full of energy and ready to lead. I will represent District 4. With your involvement and your support, I will continue to be an effective leader for you at the State Capitol. I ask for your support and your vote on Aug. 28th.
Name: Charlene R. Fernandez
Age: 58 years, 5 months
Hometown: Yuma, Arizona
Office running for: State Representative Legislative District #4
Political experience: 13+ years Congressional staffer for two members of Congress; 5+ years State of Arizona appointee in Governor Napolitano's administration; 8 years member of the Yuma Union High School Governing Board; First Vice Chair AZ Democratic Party; Chairperson; First Vice Chair-Second Vice Chair; Secretary; Treasurer of Yuma County Democratic Party; 2008 Super-delegate to the Democratic National Convention.
Family: Married 36 years (Sergio); Three children (Brian, Carlye, Lisa)
Please describe your platform: Education; Employment and Health Care
If elected, what is your first priority? Education
What sets you apart from your opponent(s)? My background, work experience, political experience and my volunteer work is verifiable and quantifiable.
What would you do to achieve more transparency in government, and should government officials be in charge of managing those efforts? Involve citizen participation in the budget process. Require that all public and elected officials disclose relationships with lobbyists and other interests. Make disclosure statements available to the public on the Internet.
What do you think is the biggest challenge right now facing Yumans? The high unemployment rate.
What would you do, if elected, to help change that? I would work with other legislators to assure that rural areas, such as Yuma County, receive their fair share of resources to encourage job development. I would encourage the state legislature to focus on real solutions to the problems facing Arizonans.
How would you rate how the current office holder is doing, on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the highest), and why? This is a new district.
What is one of your strengths? Weaknesses? My strengths are my ability to listen and formulate solutions. My weakness is impatience toward continuation of the status quo.
What is one thing that you want voters to know? I want the voters to know that I will be a full-time legislator when elected. I will continue my passion of working with the constituents in this district. I will represent the people of District 4 and not special interests. I am fully qualified for this challenge.
Name: Lisa Otondo
Hometown: Yuma, AZ
Office running for: Az. State Rep. District 4
Political experience: Precinct committeeman; Congressional candidate 2002; President of the Yuma Democratic Club
Family: Divorced/No children
Party: Democratic Party
Please describe your platform: Economic development, job creation and public education are my priorities. I believe we must invest in these areas and we can do so in a fiscally responsible manner that still meets budgetary constraints.
If elected, what is your first priority? In order to attract businesses and higher paying wages to Arizona, we need an educated workforce. As former teacher, I know that quality public education is both a moral and economic issue. Quality public education allows every child an equal opportunity to become competitive and successful in the 21st Century and it will strengthen our future workforce. We must invest in our children’s future by fighting for teachers, schools and school districts by properly funding quality public education.
What sets you apart from your opponent(s)? I was born and raised in Yuma County and come from a close-knit farming family. I am a former public school teacher and businesswoman with the time, dedication, education and competence to do the job right.
What would you do to achieve more transparency in government, and should government officials be in charge of managing those efforts? Accessibility to information and to elected officials is of prime importance. As your elected State Representative for District 4, I will be dedicated to reaching out to you, my constituents, informing you about current legislation and listening to your concerns. I will have a website, return calls and emails, keep an open door policy and be accessible. I plan on being extremely involved during session and interim session, so that you will have strong representation at the State Capitol.
What do you think is the biggest challenge right now facing Yumans? Economic development is our greatest challenge.
What would you do, if elected, to help change that? There are over $10 billion in tax loopholes for special interest groups in Arizona. I believe we need to re-evaluate our priorities. I will work to support education and skills training, so that we can bring jobs to rural Arizona. I want to prevent further budget cuts to universities and colleges, so that middle class families can afford to educate their children. I believe we must develop our workforce in order to diversify, develop and strengthen our economy.
How would you rate how the current office holder is doing, on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the highest), and why? I give Lynne Pancrazi a 5. She has a fantastic voting record and strongly supports the agricultural industry, public education, small businesses and working families. Her knowledge of real estate and business also serves us well. She is accessible and dedicated. We are lucky to have her.
What is one of your strengths? Weaknesses? I have a strong work ethic. I feel very blessed that Bob and Mary A. Otondo were my parents. They were great role models.
What is one thing that you want voters to know? Civil political discourse has been part of my life almost all of my life. I will work in a bipartisan manner to resolve the issues that face Arizona and I will be a strong voice for rural Arizona. I am a second-generation Arizonan and I love this state, this district, this county. It would be an honor to serve as your state representative. Please visit www.Otondofor4.com for more information about my campaign.