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4:06 AM Tue, Dec. 18th

Hart seeks state Senate seat

State Rep.

Joe Hart, R-Kingman, announced Sunday that he is seeking the District 2 Senate seat also being sought by Rep.

John Verkamp, R-Flagstaff.

Hart, who along with Verkamp is stepping down from the District 2 seats they share in the House of Representatives because of term limits, said he is running for the Senate because he thinks he can accomplish more there than running for Mohave County supervisor.

Hart had considered running for the District 1 supervisor seat being vacated by a political ally, Carol Anderson.

"I think it is extremely important for the fastest-growing county in the state to have some representation in the state Senate," said Hart, adding the Legislature will undergo redistricting this year.

"We have not had a representative from the Kingman area (in the Senate) in 50 years.

Robert Morrow was the last one."

Hart and Verkamp, both initially elected in 1992, are running for a seat being vacated by Sen.

John Wettaw, who is retiring from politics and plans to return to teaching chemistry full time at Northern Arizona University.

They plan to challenge each other in the Republican primary Sept.

12, with the top vote-getter facing the Democratic or other challengers in the Nov.

7 general election.

Hart said he has enjoyed a good working relationship with Verkamp during their years in the House, but said they have philosophical differences.

"I am more of a pro-business candidate and he is more pro-government," Hart said.

Verkamp said, "Joe is perfectly entitled to run for office, and I look forward for a good, positive campaign on the issues.

I think I voted much more in line with my constituents than he has and I think I have been more supportive of Mohave County issues than he has."

Verkamp said he helped to bring in $1.5 million in funding for the juvenile detention center, which opened in October 1999 in Kingman.

He continued, "I fought very hard for education funding, which Joe has not done.

Joe has not actively helped education as I have.

He has what I consider to be a record that is not helpful on the environment in general.

I've been very involved in the issue involving HMOs and rural health care, which Joe hasn't been involved in.

I think basically I try to fight for the issues that people in my district are more concerned about than the business community in Phoenix."

Verkamp said he considers himself a strong advocate of local control whereas Hart has favored statewide control.

For instance, he said he opposed a bill introduced by Hart to control billboards statewide.

Hart, a Kingman native who owns three radio stations, said he has brought a lot of construction funding for Mohave County with U.S.

93 serving as the corridor for the North American Free Trade Agreement.

"We have a lot more money spent in highway construction under my watch than anytime previously," Hart said.

Hart cited numerous other accomplishments of his tenure, including numerous leadership posts.

As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, he said he has helped to secure funds for K-12 education, State Highway 68 improvements, the Hoover Dam bypass, telecommunications programs at Mohave Community College, the juvenile center and air rescue for the state Department of Public Safety.

He acknowledged that he has disagreed with the Mohave County Economic Development Authority, which has supported natural gas-fired power plants and private prisons.

However, Hart said he considers the Griffith Energy Project a moot point now.

Hart said he supports "good, clean economic development," and wants to explore wind energy.