Candidates air views on stimulating rural economy
Editor's Note: Four candidates are running for the two open seats in reapportioned District 3 of the state House of Representatives, and two candidates are running for the new Senate seat in District 3.
The district covers most of Mohave County and portions of La Paz and Coconino counties.
Candidates for the House are Democrats Matt Capalby and Richard Glancy, both of Kingman, and Republicans Bill Wagner of Bullhead City and Joe Hart, a former state representative who lives in Kingman.
Republican state Rep.
Linda Binder of Lake Havasu City and Democrat Jacquie Jessie of Bullhead City are running for the Senate.
The Miner began a four-part series Tuesday on how the candidates stand on the issues.
The story below covers economic development.
The six candidates for the District 3 seats in the House and state Senate hold a variety of views on how to increase wages in rural areas and what kind of businesses and jobs to attract.
Matt Capalby, a candidate for the House, cited a study conducted by the Arizona Department of Economic Security that showed the income gap in Arizona is widest in Mohave County.
"We are seeing our labor force exploited rather than appreciated," Capalby said.
"We do have to promote prudent, environmentally friendly economic development that benefits everyone rather than a select few."
Capalby, a third-generation Kingman resident, said local communities need to invest in infrastructure such as electric transmission lines, roads and sewer systems to attract industries that bring higher-paying jobs.
Poor infrastructure hampers economic development, Senate candidate Jacquie Jessie said.
"We need to work on our communications structures, roads and our airport facilities," she said.
"I don't fly anywhere out of this area because it is too expensive."
Jessie cited what she perceives to be a roadblock to higher wages: a mind-set against paying employees a decent wage.
She said that when she planned to open a dog and cat kennel seven years ago, a small-business consultant suggested $10 an hour was too much to pay employees.
"I was investing in training and I wanted to keep the employees," Jessie said.
Jessie said she ran for the Bullhead City Council instead and put plans to open the kennel on hold.
The state needs to improve pay by raising the minimum wage, House candidate Richard Glancy said.
(Arizona does not have a minimum wage but abides by the federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour.)
Glancy, who is retired from the Mohave Generating Station in Laughlin and currently works as a consultant for Reliant Energy in Daggett, Calif., said low-wage jobs burden local governments because employees lack insurance and the population is more transient.
House candidate Bill Wagner said, "I don't know what a legislator can do to raise salaries.
Any time you start massaging the tax structure to encourage business, it's going to impact the residential property owner."
Wagner, the retired fire chief in Bullhead City, said chambers of commerce, economic development agencies and boards of Realtors should seek to attract business, not state lawmakers.
"I don't think these things should be decided at the state level," Wagner said.
"They should be decided at the local level."
However, District 1 state Rep.
Linda Binder, a candidate for the Senate, sees a role for the Legislature.
"We have to try and attract the best-paying jobs," she said.
"We have to work at the city and county levels to bring in companies with our economic development groups to encourages businesses to move here."
Joe Hart said he disagrees with a "jobs at any cost mentality," which also explains his opposition to gas-fired power plants and private prisons as the type of economic development to attract to the district.
"They are the two lowest form of economic development because of the emissions and water consumption (at power plants) and the prisons because of the stigma and the influx of relatives," Hart said.
Instead, Hart cited the Kingman Airport and Industrial Park as a successful model for luring industries and creating jobs.
He said the economic development arm for the city of Kingman attracted industry to the airport without offering financial and zoning concessions.
Glancy, a former member of the board of the Airport Authority, agreed, saying more than 1,000 jobs have been created at the industrial park.
He said he wants to bring in so-called "thought industries" such as electronics software companies.
He added that call centers also are a desirable employer.
Jessie, who is retired from Rockwell International, said she is against heavy industry because of the lack of infrastructure.
"We should consider our retired community as an industry," Jessie said.
She recommended drawing more medical businesses to serve retirees and create jobs.
Medical transcribing is an example of a job that can be filled in Arizona instead of in foreign countries such as India, Binder said.
She said she supports specialized transportation businesses and wants to promote tourism.
"We have to encourage the four- (and) five-star resorts to move in here and develop recreation and encourage people from all over the world" to visit, Binder said.
She added that she opposes cuts in the state Office of Tourism budget.
Capalby called for a more diverse economy that would include high-tech, transportation and distribution businesses.
"We can become a commercial and manufacturing hub," he said.
"We have to be as diverse as we possibly can.
We have to take a more regional and less parochial approach" to economic development.
In order to serve a growing and more diverse economy, employees will need to be trained, the candidates said.
That is no simple task, according to Jessie.
"It helps when kids come out of school being able to read and write and do arithmetic," she said.
Jessie, Binder and Hart said community colleges have a role to train employees.
Community colleges can train laid-off employees for jobs in other fields, Binder said.
"They truly are the lifeline," she said.
More job training is needed through community colleges, Hart said.
He also suggested tax incentives for companies that locate within the district, hire local graduates and train them.
"We do have a good work force here," Hart said.
"The American dream is to do better."
Most businesses have job training programs, Wagner said.
He added trade schools offer training and the Carpenters Local No.
897 provides an apprenticeship program.
Businesses need to form better partnerships with the public sector to expand job training, according to both Glancy and Capalby.
"There are excellent workforce development programs in place that I think we need to continue to partner with and expand," Capalby said.