Acc Expands, Draws Several Candidates

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The membership of the Arizona Corporation Commission is expanding from three to five this year.

The commission regulates utility rates; regulates issuance and enforcement of securities; and regulates formation and filings by corporations doing business in Arizona, according to the Vote for Arizona voters' pamphlet published by the Citizens Clean Elections Commission.

The result of expanding the commission is a wider field of candidates than voters are used to seeing in this race. A total of eight people are seeking election to the regulatory board.

Two people will be elected for two-year terms, while one person will earn a four-year slot on the commission.

Democrats running for the two-year terms are George Cunningham and Roland James. Democrat James Walsh is seeking election to the four-year term.

Republicans Jim Buster, Mike Gleason and Jeff Hatch-Miller are running for the two-year term ending in 2005, while Jim Irvin and Roberta Voss are running for the term ending in 2007.

Jim Buster

Party affiliation: Republican

Age: 47

How long in Arizona: 38 years

Residence: Avondale

Jim Buster is seeking election to a two-year term on the corporation commission because there are a lot of important questions coming before the group. Among these are the deregulation of the electricity industry, challenges with telecommunication and the new federal regulations private water companies must now meet.

"All of these will effect the prosperity or stagnation of Arizona's economy in the future," he said.

Buster said his experience as an elected official and a liaison between the Legislature and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality are the strengths he will bring to the commission. He has served as mayor of Yuma, was in the State Senate for six years and was appointed to the Yuma County Board of Supervisors for two years.

"I understand issues at various levels of government and have a reputation as not being afraid to make tough decisions. I grew up in Arizona and know the problems we face," Buster said.

George Cunningham

Party affiliation: Democrat

Age: 57

Years in Arizona: 45

Residence: Tucson

A former state legislator and chief of staff to Gov. Rose Mofford, George Cunningham also served as vice president for administrative services at the University of Arizona.

Cunningham emphasizes the impact the corporation commission has on the daily lives of Arizona residents.

"Each time Arizonans turn on their lights, heat or cool their homes, cook on the stove or use the telephone, they are paying for services at prices determined by the ACC," he said. "Additionally, the ACC regulates private water and sewer companies and the securities industry."

Cunningham, who holds a masters degree in public administration from U of A, promises to work toward the following if elected:

Protecting Arizonans from corporate abuses similar to those committed by Enron and WorldCom.

Making sure the interests of consumers and investors are fairly balanced.

Aggressively pursuing new technologies and cleaner-burning fuels for generating electricity.

Making sure the expansion of competition in the utility and telecommunications markets actually results in reduced cost and improved service for residential consumers and small businesses.

Making sure utility consumers in rural areas are fully represented.

Making sure utility services are delivered safely, reliably, affordably and cleanly.

Cunningham is married to Marjorie Fisher Cunningham. They have three children.

For more information, Cunningham can be reached at (520) 745-2986. His e-mail address is gcunningham02@aol.com, and his campaign website is www. cunningham2002.com.

Mike Gleason

Party affiliation: Republican

Age: 75

How long in Arizona: 16 years

Residence: Sun City West

Gleason said he wants a seat on the corporation commission to make common sense decisions concerning phone service, water service and deregulation of electricity generation, according to his statement in the Vote for Arizona voters' pamphlet.

He said he is also especially interested in consumer securities fraud.

"The commission was the first to blow the whistle on the Baptist Foundation. I'm afraid we are going to be seeing a lot more consumer fraud in Arizona," Gleason said.

Gleason spent 40 years in the agricultural seed production business so feels his ability to make good, common sense business decisions will be a strength he can bring to the commission. He also spent six years in the Arizona House, with five of those serving as chairman of the Natural Resources Committee. Gleason is also a member of the Sun City West Water Committee and said he has a good background in water issues.

Jeff Hatch-Miller

Party affiliation: Republican

Age: 57

How long in Arizona: 26 years

Residence: Paradise Valley

"I believe the corporation commission is one of the most important elected positions in Arizona. The complex issues touch us all, from the cost of our utility bills to our water supply to policing securities fraud," Hatch-Miller said in the voters' pamphlet.

Addressing issues on his website, the candidate for a two-year commission term, said, "reliable, affordable utilities are critical to Arizona's future. The Baptist Foundation rip-off shows that securities fraud devastates lives. These serious issues require experience, hard work and the integrity to put common sense before politics."

He currently represents Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe and Paradise Valley in the Arizona House and serves as chairman of the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee. He also has been a business owner.

Jim Irvin

Party affiliation: Republican

Age: 50

How long in Arizona: NA

Residence: Scottsdale

Irvin is a current member of the Arizona Corporation Commission, with his term expiring in Jan. 2003. His belief that the commission needs experienced leadership to deal with the challenges Arizona faces is the reason he cites for seeking re-election to a four-year term.

Experience and leadership, along with commitment, are some of the qualities which Irvin said will allow him to continue to effectively serve the public on the commission.

Prior to coming onto the commission, Irvin worked in the private sector for more than 20 years, including serving as a CEO of a regional company with more than 1,000 employees.

Roland James

Party affiliation: Democrat

Age: 57

Years in Arizona: 33

Residence: Phoenix

For 14 years, Roland James served as the assistant to former corporation commissioner Renz Jennings a period when "the commission went from being a shameful lap dog of the utility companies to a respected watchdog for Arizona rate payers."

During that era, "the Commission guided the utility companies to both a more responsible way of providing service to their customers and to a profitability based on sound business practices ratherthan shady spin-offs," James said.

The candidate emphasizes his commitment to strong and fair regulation, energy efficiency and renewable energy. He believes that "public goods" like electricity and water should not be deregulated or privatized.

"Electricity deregulation has led to skyrocketing rates, bankruptcies and blackouts," James said. "Arizona has competition in name only."

James says he has a solid background, a wealth of practical experience, and the will to stand up to the powerful utility lobby.

He is married and has one daughter.

For more information, James can be reached at (602) 266-6771. His website address is www.rolandjames.org.

Roberta Voss

Party affiliation: Republican

Age: 37

How long in Arizona: 30 years

Residence: Phoenix

Voss has served six years in the Arizona House.

"Responsible action is necessary to streamline government, increase efficiency and make the commission accountable," Voss said in her statement in the Citizens Clean Elections Commission voters' pamphlet.

She said she is the most qualified for the four-year post because of her ideas and experience.

The issues of concern to her are the telecommunications challenges for rural Arizona and affordable energy; and the hurdles the state continues to place in the way of business and economic development.

Regarding electric deregulation, Voss believes the utility competition must be addressed so that Arizona Consumers and small businesses have choices for their service providers and can obtain the lowest possible rate available in a competitive marketplace.

James P. Walsh

Party affiliation: Democrat

Age: 58

Years in Arizona: 32

Residence: Phoenix

James P. Walsh says he is running for the four-year vacancy on the corporation commission because Arizona needs fair and common-sense regulation of the securities, energy and telecommunications industries.

"I have spent the last 30 years in both public service and the private sector, working for non-profit and conservation groups that don't usually have a voice," Walsh said. "Now I want the chance to be a voice for all the people of Arizona."

A lawyer and former state senator, the candidate says he is for fair utility rates and common sense regulation, while opposing the "degradation of the Arizona environment to benefit California's energy consumption. He also favors protection of consumer privacy and the restoration of civility and the pursuit of the public good in government.

"Encouraging competition must be tied to achieving lower costs for consumers and more reliable service," Walsh said. "Deregulation must be re-examined in light of California's disastrous experiment. In addition, consumer privacy dictates that no information be shared without written permission. The commission must carefully balance the needs of the consumer, the investor and the environment."

Walsh is married, has three children and one grandchild. He can be reached at (602) 258-6932. His website address is www.jamespwalsh.com.

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