Stories about Arizona

Arizona voters to decide local minimum wage increase, bond issues, school budget override, and charter amendments in November

Ballotpedia is covering 11 local ballot measures in Chandler, Gilbert, Scottsdale, and Tucson on November 2, 2021. 

In Chandler, voters will decide five bond issues totaling $272,685,000:

  1. Question 1: Authorizes $72,985,000 in bonds to construct, improve, and acquire city parks and recreational facilities
  2. Question 2: Authorizes $25,160,000 in bonds to construct, renovate, and equip city fire stations and fire safety-related facilities
  3. Question 3: Authorizes $55,190,000 in bonds to construct, renovate, and equip city police stations and police-related facilities
  4. Question 4: Authorizes $85,780,000 in bonds to acquire, improve, or construct streets, traffic signals, utility lines, shared-use trails, and other transportation projects
  5. Question 5: Authorizes $33,570,000 in bonds to acquire, improve, or construct municipal buildings including performing arts facilities, office buildings, community centers, and libraries

The board of Chandler Unified School District No. 80 referred a measure to the ballot that would authorize the district to exceed their maintenance and operations budget by 15% for six years, thereby continuing existing budget levels. The measure would also levy property taxes of $1.24 per $100 in assessed property value. Voters last authorized a budget override in November 2017.

Gilbert voters will decide on two ballot measures on November 2. Question 1 would authorize the city to issue $515 million in bonds to construct, acquire, and improve streets, roadways, traffic signals, drainage systems, retention basins, and other transportation and infrastructure projects. Proposition 462 would authorize a franchise agreement between Southwest Gas Corporation and the city of Gilbert to maintain the city’s gas system and facilities for 25 years.

Scottsdale voters will decide one ballot measure, Proposition 463, that would ratify the city’s General Plan unanimously passed by the city council on June 8, 2021. In 2012, Scottsdale voters rejected a new General Plan, thereby maintaining the General Plan adopted in 2001. 

The elections in Chandler, Gilbert, and Scottsdale will be conducted entirely by mail. No polling places will be provided on the election day.

Tucson voters will decide on two ballot measures. Proposition 206 would incrementally increase the city’s minimum wage from $12.15 (the state’s minimum wage) to $15 by January 1, 2025, and increase it every January thereafter by the rate of inflation rounded to the nearest multiple of $0.05. The initiative would also establish a Department of Labor Standards. The department would be authorized to receive complaints from employees, investigate employers, and educate workers about their rights under the initiative.

Tucson Proposition 410 would increase the compensation for the mayor from $42,000 to $54,000 and the compensation for city council members from $24,000 to $36,000 beginning on December 4, 2023. It would also require compensation increases linked to inflation for every following year. The Tucson election will be conducted via mail and in-person voting.

The last day to register to vote in Maricopa and Pima Counties is Monday, Oct. 4. 

In 2021, Ballotpedia is covering local measures that appear on the ballot for voters within the top 100 largest cities in the U.S. and all state capitals, including those outside of the top 100 largest cities. Ballotpedia is also covering all local ballot measures in California, a selection of notable local measures related to police policies and election policies, and all statewide ballot measures.

Signatures filed for veto referendums to repeal Arizona income tax bills

The campaign Invest in Arizona filed signatures on Sept. 28, 2021, for two veto referendums aimed at overturning bills designed to change income tax brackets and small business income taxes in Arizona. Both of the bills would impact tax revenue associated with Proposition 208, an initiative passed in 2020. Proposition 208 enacted a 3.5% income tax surcharge, in addition to the existing income tax (4.5% in 2020), on income above $250,000 (single filing) or $500,000 (joint filing). 

One of the targeted bills, Senate Bill 1828, would reduce the state’s income tax brackets from four to two and further reduce the tax brackets to a flat rate when state revenue exceeds $12.976 billion. The other bill, Senate Bill 1783, would replace the individual income tax that certain small business owners file with a new small business income tax.

With signatures filed for the veto referendums, both of the bills are suspended until the secretary of state determines if enough signatures are valid to qualify the measures for the ballot. If enough signatures are found to be valid, the targeted bill would remain suspended until voters decide the issue at the November 2022 general election. If not enough valid signatures were filed, the targeted bill would go into effect. 

More signatures were filed for the referendum against SB 1828 than SB 1783. Invest in Arizona reported filing more than 215,000 signatures for the SB 1828 referendum. It reported filing about 123,500 signatures for the SB 1783 referendum. At least 118,823 signatures need to be valid.

Joe Thomas, president of the Arizona Education Associated, said, “Today’s filing is an effort to stop another one of the Governor’s reckless attempts to hand out money to the wealthy while disregarding the will of [Arizona] voters or the impact on our public schools.” Scot Mussi, president of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, responded, “The teachers union and an out of state interest group hired hundreds of paid circulators to go around the state lying to Arizona voters about the tax cuts passed by the state legislature.”

Invest in Arizona filed a veto referendum against a third bill, Senate Bill 1827, but it did not collect enough signatures for that proposal. SB 1827 was designed to cap the maximum combined individual income tax rate at 4.5%.

The Arizona Legislature passed all three of the bills in June 2021, and Gov. Doug Ducey (D) signed them. Votes were along party lines, with Republicans supporting the bills and Democrats opposing them.

Arizonans last voted on a veto referendum in 2018, when a majority voted to repeal a bill expanding the state’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) program to make all public school students eligible to apply for an ESA. Since Arizona adopted a referendum process in 1911, voters have decided 35 veto referendums. Voters upheld 19 bills and rejected 16 bills. 

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Raquel Terán assumes office as Arizona state senator, creating vacancy in state House

Raquel Terán (D) assumed office as the senator for District 30 in the Arizona state Senate on Sept. 28. The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors appointed Terán (D) to the district on Sept. 15. The seat became vacant in August when former state Sen. Tony Navarrete (D) resigned after being arrested on suspicion of sexual conduct with a minor. Terán will serve the remainder of Navarrete’s term, which was set to expire in January 2023.

At the time she was appointed, Terán was serving her second term in the Arizona House of Representatives. Terán ran for the District 30 seat in the state Senate in 2012 and was defeated by incumbent Robert Meza in the Democratic primary, 51% to 49%.

Terán’s appointment to the state Senate creates a vacancy in the state House. When a vacancy occurs in the Arizona legislature, the board of county supervisors must select a replacement. Arizona is one of seven states that fill state legislative vacancies through board of county commissioners appointment.

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Arizona Rep. Aaron Lieberman resigns to focus on 2022 run for governor

Aaron Lieberman (D) announced on September 20 that he would resign his seat in the Arizona House of Representatives to focus on his 2022 campaign for governor.

Lieberman first won election to the House to represent District 28 in 2018, alongside incumbent Kelli Butler (D).

Ballotpedia has identified three Democratic candidates, five Republican candidates, and two third-party candidates who have declared for the 2022 Arizona gubernatorial election. Incumbent Doug Ducey (R) is not able to run for re-election due to term limits.

Vacancies in the Arizona legislature are filled by appointment by the board of county supervisors. The political party committee is involved in the appointment process only if the legislative district has thirty or more elected precinct committeemen.

The Arizona House of Representatives is the lower chamber of the Arizona State Legislature. Currently, there are 28 Democrats, 30 Republicans, and two vacancies in the House.

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Kirsten Engel, Wesley Breckenridge resign from state legislatures

Two Democrats, Kirsten Engel and Wesley Breckenridge, resigned from their state legislatures on Sept. 8 and 10, respectively. Senator Engel represented Arizona Senate District 10 from Jan. 11, 2021, to Sept. 8, 2021, while Rep. Breckenridge represented Iowa House District 29 from 2017 to 2021.

Engel resigned to focus on her 2022 campaign for Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District. As of Sept. 10, Engel was one of three Democrats Ballotpedia identified as running in the primary. Before joining the state Senate, Engel represented Arizona House District 10 from 2017 to 2021.

Breckenridge resigned to take a job with the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy. He most recently won re-election in 2020, winning with 51.5% of the vote to Jon Dunwell’s (R) 48.4%.

Arizona is one of seven states to fill state legislative vacancies through appointments via Board of City Commissioners. Iowa is one of 25 states to fill such vacancies through special elections. 

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Two Arizona school board recall efforts fail to qualify for the ballot

Efforts to recall school board members in the Vail Unified School District and the Litchfield Elementary School District in Arizona did not submit the required signatures to get on the ballot.

In the Vail recall effort, two of the five school board members were named in the recall petitions, Board President Jon Aitken and Clerk Claudia Anderson. To get the recalls on the ballot, recall supporters would have had to collect 4,364 signatures per board member by Aug. 27.

The recall effort started after parents and community members held protests over the school district’s requirement to wear masks. Recall supporters said that under Aitken’s and Anderson’s leadership, “the mental, emotional and physical health of the Vail students has steadily declined to an alarming level.” 

After a school board meeting was canceled in April 2021 due to a protest, Superintendent John Carruth said, “This past year has been incredibly intense and emotional. Providing education during this pandemic has produced an endless series of new challenges that must be overcome.”

In the Litchfield recall effort, two of the five school board members were named in the recall petitions, Kimberly Moran and Melissa Zuidema. To get the recalls on the ballot, supporters would have had to file petitions with 6,856 signatures per board member. The petition against Zuidema had to be filed by Aug. 27, and the petitions against Moran had to be filed by Sept. 1.

The recall effort started after the board voted to approve an equity statement in December 2020. The statement outlined how the district’s administration could make the district more inclusive and successful, according to The Arizona Republic. After the vote, board member A. Jeremy Hoenack sent emails to district parents and community members, accusing his fellow board members of adopting critical race theory. Groups of community members who opposed and supported the district’s equity statement and goals attended school board meetings throughout March and April 2021. In April 2021, the district announced it would revise its equity goals and seek feedback through the end of the 2020-2021 school year. The recall effort was started by two district parents who opposed the district’s equity goals.

In response to the recall effort, Moran said, “It’s been challenging to receive emails or feedback from parents or students or community members who have very different sources of information that they believe to be factual.”

The Vail Unified School District is located in Pima County, and the Litchfield Elementary School District is located in Maricopa County. Vail Unified served 13,392 students during the 2018-2019 school year, and Litchfield Elementary served 11,566 students during the 2018-2019 school year.

Ballotpedia has tracked 62 school board recall efforts against 158 board members in 2021, which is the highest number of school board recalls that we have ever tracked. The second-highest number of school board recall efforts—39—was tracked in 2010.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 164 recall efforts against 262 officials. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

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Campaign finance update: Top fundraisers in Arizona

Campaign finance requirements govern the raising and spending of money for political campaigns. While not the only factor in an election’s outcome, successful fundraising can provide a candidate with advantages, such as the ability to boost name recognition and promote a message. In addition, fundraising can indicate enthusiasm for candidates and parties.

This article lists the top individual fundraisers in Arizona by their party affiliation. It is based on campaign finance reports that active Arizona candidate political action committees (candidate PACs) submitted to the Arizona Secretary of State. It includes activity between Jan. 1, 2021, and June 30, 2021. Candidate PACs represent individuals who have run for state or local office at any point, including past and present officeholders. This article does not include non-candidate PACs.

Top Arizona Fundraisers

The top fundraisers in Arizona elections are shown below. For the purpose of this article, fundraisers may include individuals who are on the ballot this election cycle as well as those not currently running for office but who have received contributions during this reporting period. Individuals are listed with the office that they held at the time of publication, if applicable.

In the Democratic party, the only fundraisers in the most recent semiannual reporting period were:

In the Republican party, the only fundraisers in the most recent semiannual reporting period were:

Fundraising Totals

Overall, the top Arizona Democratic candidate PACs raised $81,413 in this period. The top Republican candidate PACs raised $272,505. Arizona candidate PACs in the Jan. 1, 2021, through June 30, 2021, filing period raised a total of $356,927. Combined, these Arizona candidates account for 99% of total fundraising.

Contributions to the top two Democratic candidates made up 100% of the total amount reported by their party’s campaigns. Contributions to the top four Republican fundraisers comprised 100% of the total amount reported by Republican campaigns.

The table below provides additional data from the campaign finance reports from the top seven fundraisers. For more information on fundraising and spending for Arizona races on the 2022 ballot, click here.

NameParty AffiliationRaised this periodSpent this period
Karen FannRepublican Party$254,105$233,637
Katie HobbsDemocratic Party$76,888$0
Mark FinchemRepublican Party$9,550$10,845
Michelle Ugenti-RitaRepublican Party$5,450$1,238
Robert MezaDemocratic Party$4,525$0
John KavanaghRepublican Party$3,400$1,965
Steve RemusOther$3,009$3,009

Campaign Finance Reporting Periods

The reports filed with the Arizona Secretary of State cover Jan. 1, 2021, through June 30, 2021. Candidate PACs in Arizona must file semiannual financial reports of their fundraising and campaign spending. During election years, candidate PACs also file additional financial reports before primary and general elections.

The next semiannual campaign finance reporting deadline for Arizona legislators and candidates will include activity between July 1, 2021, and Dec. 31, 2021.

This article was published in partnership with Transparency USA. Click here to learn more about that partnership.

School mask requirement ban suspended in Arizona, enacted in Tennessee

As schools have begun reopening for the 2021-2022 academic year, several states have enacted policies regarding mask requirements in schools. As of Aug. 17, seven states banned school mask requirements, thirty states left school mask decisions up to local authorities, and thirteen states required masks in schools.

Recent actions were taken in Arizona, Tennessee, and Texas regarding school mask mandates. In Arizona, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Randall Warner ruled on Aug. 16 that Arizona’s law banning school mask requirements could not take effect until Sept. 29. Warner said, “Under Arizona law, new laws are effective 90 days after the legislative session ends, which is Sept. 29 this year.” The legislature passed a ban on school mask requirements in the 2021 regular legislative session.

On Aug. 16, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) issued an executive order allowing parents to send their children to school without masks in K-12 public schools that enacted mask requirements. With written notification to school authorities from a parent or guardian, a student would not be required to wear masks at school, on school buses, or at school functions.

The Texas Supreme Court temporarily overturned lower court orders in Bexar and Dallas Counties on Aug. 15 that would have allowed those local governments to disregard Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) May 18 executive order prohibiting governments from requiring masks.

Tony Navarrete resigns from the Arizona state Senate

Senator Tony Navarrete (D) resigned from the Arizona state Senate on Aug. 10. He represented District 30 from 2019 to 2021. He also represented Arizona House District 30 from 2017 to 2019.

Phoenix police arrested Navarrete on Aug. 5, 2021, on suspicion of sexual conduct with a minor. According to authorities, the alleged sexual conduct took place in 2019. Navarrete resigned on Aug. 10, stating, “I adamantly deny all allegations that have been made and will pursue all avenues in an effort to prove my innocence. In doing so, I will be focusing the vast majority of my time and energy on my defense.”

If there is a vacancy in the state Senate, the board of county supervisors must select a replacement. The appointee will serve the remainder of Navarrete’s term, which ends on Jan. 8, 2023.

As of Aug. 12, there have been 82 state legislative vacancies in 36 states this year. Fifty of those vacancies have been filled, with 32 vacancies remaining. Navarrete’s vacancy is one of 38 Democratic vacancies to have occurred in 2021. So far, Democrats have filled 23 vacancies, while Republicans have filled 27.  

Additional reading:

Arizona State Senate

Arizona State Senate District 30

State legislative vacancies, 2021

Primary election set for Aug. 3 in Tucson, Arizona

The municipal primary in Tucson, Arizona, is scheduled for Aug. 3, 2021. Candidates are competing to advance to the general election scheduled for Nov. 2. The filing deadline to run passed on April 5.

Candidates filed for three seats on the six-seat city council. In Ward 3, Kevin Dahl will face Juan Padres in the Democratic primary. In the Ward 6 Democratic primary, Andres Portela and Miranda Schubert are challenging incumbent Steve Kozachik. No Republican candidates qualified for the ballot in these races, but voters can still choose to write in a candidate’s name.

Tucson is the second-largest city in Arizona and the 33rd-largest city in the United States by population.

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