Tucson-area House districts 16, 17, 18 feature contested races

Second Amendment

Voters will determine in the Nov. 8 general election who will represent them in six newly redrawn Arizona House legislative districts in the Tucson area as Republican and Democratic candidates face off. The districts are 16, 17, 18, 19, 21 and 23.

In a seventh Arizona House legislative race in District 20, Democratic incumbents Andrés Cano and Alma Hernandez are running in an uncontested race and will automatically assume their posts in January.

Cano of Tucson was raised in public housing by a single mother, and he is a first-generation college graduate, receiving a bachelor’s in broadcast journalism from Arizona State University. In 2018, he was elected as a state representative, and he currently sits on the House Ways and Means, and on Natural Resources, Energy and Water committees.

Hernandez of Tucson was raised on the city’s south side and is a graduate of schools in the Sunnyside Unified School District. She also was elected in 2018. Hernandez received a bachelor’s and master’s in public health from University of Arizona. She serves on the House Health and Human Services, and Criminal Justice Reform committees.

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Voters can select two representatives, and the top two vote-getters will be elected to the seats. Early voting for the general election began Oct. 12. The last day to request a mail-in ballot is Oct. 28. (These districts will be broken up into two stories with LD 19, 21 and 23 running soon in the Arizona Daily Star.)

District 16

Two Republicans and one Democrat are running in District 16, which covers portions of Maricopa, Pinal and Pima counties, sprawling from the northwest and moving southeast following Interstate 10 on down south to the western edge of Tucson.

Teresa Martinez is the Republican incumbent who was appointed to fill the seat vacated by Rep. Bret Roberts of District 11 after his resignation in September 2021. Martinez, a Casa Grande native, was the director of coalitions and Hispanic outreach for U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, and prior to working for Gosar she was political director of the Arizona Republican Party. According to her campaign website, her priorities include “protecting local businesses, developing the economy in the face of inflation, and help to bring high paying jobs to the district.”

Martinez also supports transportation infrastructure, “especially as it pertains to the I-10 expansion between Casa Grande and Chandler as well as improvements on State Route 347 and 238 for the town of Maricopa.” She supports law enforcement and adequate funding for the jobs, school choice, election integrity, preserving rural communities and protection of the state’s water resources. Before her political work, the oldest of five children whose father was a miner in San Manuel, worked as a long-term substitute teacher at Casa Grande Union High School and also was employed at the Frito-Lay plant in Casa Grande.

The other Republican nominee, Rob Hudelson of Tucson, is a former Coolidge city councilman, Navy veteran and is pastor at Legacy Baptist Church in Coolidge. Hudelson said he is a “conservative Christian” who supports limited government, low taxes and free markets. Among his top priorities are election integrity, border security and funding police to fight crime.

Hudelson advocates for the agricultural industry and in farmers getting their share of water for crops, and he also advocates for prioritizing water for incoming businesses and subdivisions as growth continues in the district. He favors for public education officials “to help parents to equip their children with the necessary skills to live productive lives.” He does not believe in the teaching of critical race theory, is a member of the National Rifle Association, and is pro-life.

Democrat Keith Seaman of Casa Grande is a lifelong educator and vice president of the Coolidge Unified School District Governing Board. He was a teacher for nearly 40 years and advocates for all students to have access to high-quality education. The Air Force veteran, who also served in the Army Reserves, says he is running to “fight for Arizona students, teachers and working families.”

“We need to attract the best and brightest teachers so our students can remain competitive on a national and international level,” says Seaman in campaign literature. He says he also learned from his wife, a retired nurse, the importance for everyone to receive good health care. “However, I have friends and neighbors who go without care because they cannot afford it. This must change. Every Arizonan should have access to health care that includes affordable prescription drugs.”

His platform also includes the protection of voting rights.

“As a rural voter — my family and I have spent years voting by mail in safe and secure elections. As a representative, I will fight against those trying to undermine the voter’s trust in our election systems. I will help protect voting rights, the sanctity of our elections, and the right for Arizonans to vote by expanding access to the ballot box.”

District 17

Two Republican and two Democrats are facing off in District 17, which includes much of the northwest side, the far east side and the Rita Ranch area.

Republican candidate Rachel Jones of Tucson is a former teacher and business executive who campaigned on supporting “low taxes, the right to bear arms and small government” saying that is what has made Arizona great. She said Arizona values are under attack, and she is against vaccine mandates, critical race theory and believes “the Socialist Democrats in Phoenix are threatening our rights, families and very way of life.”

She is a champion for pro-life, medical freedom and securing the border. She said she and fellow Republican candidate Cory McGarr are “authentic conservative fighters” for state house. “We need someone in the state house who has and will continue to support President Donald J. Trump’s America First agenda,” said Jones.

McGarr of Marana is district manager of a Tucson pest control business. He is involved with anti-abortion organizations and his platform includes “running for the state House to fix the broken election system, to eliminate fraud and to ensure that something like the 2020 election never happens again.” McGarr says, “I’m a rock-solid defender of the Second Amendment.”

He describes Arizona as a “vibrant state” with protected gun rights, low taxes and low regulations. He calls himself a “constitutional conservative” who will never backdown “to take back our country.”

Democrat nominee Dana Allmond of Marana is a retired lieutenant colonel and graduate of West Point academy. She received a bachelor’s at West Point, a master’s in counseling and leader development from Long Island University in New York and a master’s in business administration from Arizona State University.

In her campaign, Allmond said the “motto of the military academy is ‘duty, honor, country.’ We have never needed these virtues more in Arizona. The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy and we must make certain that all Arizonans who want to vote can vote. Attempts to suppress the vote must stop. Those who are this afraid of democracy, know in their hearts that they will lose a fair election.”

Her platform includes improving the state’s public education system by moving it “from the bottom five to the top five” and ensuring “a safe and abundant water supply for our children and our farmers.” She also has been vocal about her disgust for West Point graduates and politicians, including Republican state Rep. Mark Finchem who is a candidate for secretary of state, for their involvement in the riots at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in which five people were killed at the rally.

Democrat candidate Brian Radford of Tucson is a retired state corrections officer and case manager who worked with mental health offenders. He also is a former special education teacher’s assistant and is a foster parent. He was born in California and raised in Ohio and graduated from Kent State University with a bachelor’s in Spanish. He moved to Arizona 19 years ago. In campaign literature, he said he is running “to cut through partisan rancor and get back to the issues that impact our community the most” including tackling water scarcity issues, education, women’s rights and health care.

“Guaranteeing our water supply for generations to come means reducing use where we can and finding ways to rebuild our supply. We can do so by using grants and tax rebates to enable our farmers to invest in water-use reduction technologies and replace high-use crops with low-use crops,” Radford said. He also supports “banning the sale of rural water rights to the highest bidder” and rewarding individuals who are recapturing water through tax rebates.

He said the state needs “to invest in our schools at a rate that is in line with the national average” including guaranteed funding for increasing teacher salaries, providing adequate resources for students with disabilities, and for every school to have onsite career and mental health counselors.” Radford supports women’s right to choose, reproductive health and medical privacy. He advocates for lowering the cost of health care by enacting laws requiring price transparency for fee-for-service providers and creating a buy-in option for Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System for families to have coverage at a price they can afford.

District 18

One Republican and two Democrats are running in District 18, which covers the Catalina Foothills, Casas Adobes and a swath of Tucson north of Broadway, east of Country Club Road and west of Camino Seco.

Republican nominee Linda Evans of Tucson is artistic director of America Regional Touring, or ART, a nonprofit offering education in music and theater for theater productions. She received a master’s from Columbia College in Chicago and said her plays and musicals have been produced in Manhattan. She was born and raised in Van Wert, Ohio, and moved to Tucson 28 years ago. Evans said she taught a psychology course, focusing on stress management and suicide prevention, to Border Patrol agents, police officers, first-responders and nurses at Pima Community College.

Her campaign literature states that she believes public education should remain in the control of the state and parents, not the federal government. She advocates to defund Arizona public schools and universities that promote the teaching of critical race theory. She supports border security to end human trafficking and advocates for the U.S. to increase manufacturing and oil production to halt inflation and increasing gas prices.

Democrat Nancy Gutierrez of Tucson has lived here for 14 years and is co-owner of Yoga 4 Youth. She received a bachelor’s in elementary education with an emphasis in math from Northern Arizona University. She is a teacher and has taught in Paradise Valley, Sierra Vista and since 2013 has taught yoga at Tucson High Magnet School. Her campaign worked “to ensure that Arizona puts public education, teachers, staff and students as a priority.” She said a top-notch educational system will benefit the state’s economy by attracting businesses that will help produce leaders in industry, infrastructure and the environment.

She supports reproductive freedom and care.

“Women are the backbone of our society, and we must have the freedom to make our reproductive decisions,” according to campaign literature. She said she will work with health care providers and organizations that support women to ensure their rights. She also advocates for family leave so families can bond and care for each other before returning to work.

Gutierrez is a sensible gun candidate who believes guns should never be allowed on any campus, and loopholes must be closed for sales at gun shows.

“Where there are guns, there are more reports of gun violence,” she said. “In Arizona, we are too lenient on who can carry a gun and where it can be carried. Arizona should reinstate the requirement to be certified to carry a concealed weapon,” states her campaign.

Democrat Chris Mathis of Tucson is the incumbent who was appointed in December to represent District 9 after state Rep. Randall Friese resigned. Mathis received a master’s in public administration from the Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government and a master’s in public health from the Harvard School of Public Health. He received law and undergraduate degrees from the University of Illinois.

Mathis is a practicing attorney who teaches health care law and policy and aging at the University of Arizona law school. He has lived in Tucson for 21 years and practices law helping older adults and their families resolve issues related to long-term care, public benefits and estate planning, according to his campaign.

As a legislator, he said, he will fight to protect voting rights, women’s reproductive rights, fully fund public schools and advocate for better pay for educators.

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Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at cduarte@tucson.com or on Twitter: @cduartestar

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