KINGMAN – The primary election is 29 days away and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey wants voters to rely on his record as he seeks re-election. Ducey had the opportunity to sling mud at his opponent for the Republican nomination, Ken Bennett, but preferred to talk about what he considers his accomplishments over the past four years and the future, the governor told the Daily Miner after Saturday’s Mohave County Republican Picnic in the Hualapai Mountains.
“I have a record I can count on, and people can look at what I’ve done over the last four years,” the governor said. “I’m out promoting what I’m for. There are others who are going to try and tear down that record, and the voters will get to decide. Folks vote with their feet and we’re winning. That’s the case I’m taking to the Arizona voters.”
Ducey’s strategy for re-election is a three-pronged approach based around “securing Arizona’s future” with a secure economy, secure schools and secure border. His campaign says that significant investments in public schools have been made without raising taxes. Ducey takes credit for $2.7 billion of new dollars added to schools since 2015, the 20 percent raises for teachers by 2020, and the $3.5 billion as a result of Prop. 123, which took funds from the state’s education land trust to give to the schools in lieu of the state paying back the schools for funds the state withheld from education.
“We were able to do all that, and everyone is saying ‘we need more,’” Ducey said. “I agree we need more, but I want to make sure that these dollars flow to the right places and are getting to the teachers. We’re focused on results and outcomes in our classrooms.”
Kingman, like the rest of the state, is suffering from a teacher shortage and sees many young, out-of-state teachers come to Kingman for work. A number of these teachers then take their experience back home with them rather than remain working in Arizona. Ducey sees Arizona’s Teacher Academy as a solution to this issue, predicting nearly 1,700 new Arizona-based educators by 2021.
The academy offers debt-free tuition and a guaranteed job after graduation for a five-year commitment to teaching in Arizona.
“We thought at the front end offering tuition assistance and making certain people graduate debt free and have a job waiting for them would bring more people into the profession,” Ducey said. “That is what we’ve been able to do so far.
Ducey is proud that Mohave County has added more than 5,500 jobs over the last four years and unemployment here has dipped 3.8 percent. These figures are part of the whole in Arizona, where he says more than 237,000 jobs have been added. The governor also reported more than 300 businesses have come into the state during his tenure.
While the economy is doing well in Kingman, the future is an important consideration locally. Ducey can see that a big part of the answer lies in the development of Interstate 11.
“We’re a big fan of the possibility of Interstate I-11,” he said. “If you look at the growth in terms of Arizona’s commerce, population we’ve brought to Arizona, the increased trade with Mexico, and the opportunity with Canada, it all adds up to Interstate I-11.”
The governor said his office expects to work with local municipalities and federal partners on the state’s infrastructure. During President Donald Trump’s infrastructure week, Ducey said his administration sat down with Wilbur Ross, Ryan Zinke, Elaine Chao, and Sonny Purdue, the federal government’s secretaries of commerce, interior, transportation and agriculture to bring I-11 along.
When the concept and project of I-11 comes to the working stages, Ducey said Kingman will not be left out.
“You can count on from my administration in that not only will Kingman be a part of the discussion, but the entire Mohave County to make certain we’re doing things to promote and move forward the way of life in all 15 counties,” he said. “Mohave is one of those and very important.”
Kingman and Mohave County are on the front lines of the opioid addiction epidemic. Statewide, Ducey said over 800 Arizonans have died the past 18 months due to this epidemic. The state has passed the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act, and the governor said that first and foremost the prevention of future addictions and overdoses is being attacked by stopping the doctor shopping and pill mills, and eliminating the first fills of opioids.
Kingman is lacking when it comes to treatment facilities, and Ducey said he expects his administration to work with different municipalities to work on the proper funding level to compassionately treat people overcome their addictions.
“The treatment component to this is incredibly important,” he said. “Unfortunately, we have had too many people fall prey to these drugs. When you go beyond five days of opioids, your percentage for addiction spikes. The best thing is if no one gets addicted to this, (then) you avoid all these issues.”
Arizona’s primary election is Aug. 28.