Learn More About The ACC Candidate And What San Tan Valley Can Expect
Why are you running?
I am running to stop the CORRUPTION at the Corporation Commission, to prevent and reverse unjustified
utility rate increases, to make Arizona the solar capital of the world, and to protect consumers from utility abuses, such as unhealthy and unsafe water, sewage spills and low water pressure.
What would you like San Tan Valley residents to know about your previous experience?
I was a Commissioner for 9 1/2 years from 1999 to 2008 and Chair for two years. I stood up for customers when Johnson Utilities sued them. I prevented unjustified utility rate increases and voted to reduce rates. I started my public service career exposing and fighting corruption in Chandler. As a result, at age 27, I was appointed the Presiding Judge of the Chandler Municipal Court. I next served in the legislature for six years and was the Chair of the House Environment Committee. As the Chair, I wrote numerous laws protecting Arizona‘s environment, including the state’s first recycling law, a law preventing Arizona from becoming the nation’s dumping ground for hazardous waste and a law protecting the Phoenix Mountain Preserves and our Native Plants.
With the problems surrounding the San Tan Valley area and how it relates to Johnson Utilities, what are your thoughts on the history surrounding this problem and how it has been allowed to persist for over a decade?
Johnson Utilities appears to have been over-earning and underperforming for many years, but due to the culture of CORRUPTION at the Commission, it took an indictment, severe environmental issues, service issues (adverse publicity), a lawsuit and an election to get the Commissioner’s attention focused on that utility. We know about the bribery allegations against former chair of the Commission, Gary Pierce, regarding Johnson Utilities, but this is just the tip of the corruption iceberg. The ADEQ has been remiss in its duties. For over four years, the Commission staff warned the Commissioners about the problems at Johnson Utilities. Not only did the Commissioners ignore them but instead praised Johnson Utilities.
What could the ACC have done differently in your eyes? Both how it is being handled now and how the situation has been handled in the past?
The Commission was established to protect captive customers from politically powerful utilities. If the Commissioners had just done their job in a timely manner none of this would’ve occurred. Additionally, there should never have been a vote to allow the personal income taxes to be passed on to ratepayers. The continuing issues at Johnson Utilities should have been investigated long ago. There is a process at the ACC to address these types of concerns, but that process takes some time, so addressing them should have started long ago.
What are your thoughts on ADEQ when it comes to their management and oversight of Johnson Utilities?
Dismal failure of an agency, failing to protect public health and safety, even sticking up for the utility instead of the public. No real enforcement, no real investigation. ADEQ representatives at the hearings conducted a few months ago by the ACC made assertions about the hydrogen sulfide issues that were not substantiated by anything – the agency did not have any of the records that were referenced. There is a culture of protecting polluters at the ADEQ and not conducting enforcement when it is warranted.
It was announced on June 6th that Section 11 Wastewater Treatment Plant would be closed. On July 6 ADEQ released a public notice announcing a public hearing on August 8, in Florence, about the expansion of Section 11 Wastewater Treatment Plant that would expand the capacity by four times its current capacity. ADEQ’s communication in this process has been questionable, especially regarding properly notifying the residents and county officials. What can be done to correct some of the basic flaws within ADEQ in regards to protecting residents as opposed to a public perception that it is protecting businesses?
The Director of ADEQ is a political appointee. Either the Governor needs to make changes, or the Governor needs to be replaced. Additionally, changes should occur in the legislature so that statutes can be passed to require proper oversight and enforcement.
When it comes to the wells that were shut down due to high nitrates, what are your thoughts on Johnson Utilities and ADEQ taking so long to provide measures and solutions to bring those wells back online?
The ADEQ is infamous for its foot-dragging on investigations, and for not protecting the public in a timely manner. Johnson Utilities will have to be ordered to do what it should have been doing all along, which requires enforcement and a policy of putting public health and safety first.
The ACC recently voted to appoint an Interim Manager. What are your thoughts on the process and the options in front of them regarding EPCOR and the QC/Florence joint partnership?
Of the two choices, I would’ve listened to the customers and selected the Queen Creek/Florence joint partnership. EPCOR has many unhappy customers in the other locations they currently serve. The Bullhead City Council recently voted to put the question of purchasing EPCOR Water on the ballot.
The ACC is looking for input from residents regarding who they prefer as an Interim Manager; EPCOR or the QC/Florence joint partnership. Arguments can be made for and against both options. What do you feel are the most important points to focus on when deciding who is best suited to be the Interim Manager between these two options?
The track record of the applicants and their respective abilities to do it correctly, fairly and economically when they assume the duties.
What are your thoughts on Tobin recusing himself? Was it the right move?
Tobin’s recusal was the right move so that Johnson Utilities wouldn’t have a legal reason to postpone the appointment of the Interim Manager. Tobin’s recusal also reveals the incompetence and insidious culture of CORRUPTION at the Commission.
How do we/ACC/Municipalities prevent another situation like the one San Tan Valley has faced with Johnson Utilities?
Elect Sandra Kennedy and me, then keep electing good commissioners who are on the side of the consumers and not in the pocket of politically powerful utility monopolies.
What can San Tan Valley residents expect from you if you were to be elected?
I will work quickly and diligently to fix the issues at Johnson Utilities and prevent new ones from developing. I will always be their advocate, and they can always directly communicate their concerns to me as my door will always be open – and I will respond.