Four Candidates Vie For Secretary Of State

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The successful candidate for the office of Arizona Secretary of State will be acting governor when the elected governor is out of state. And, as recent history has shown, takes over the office in the event of the governor's resignation or ouster.

Five Arizonans want the secretary of state's job: Jan Brewer, Sharon Collins, Chris Cummiskey, Sal DiCiccio and Sean Nottingham.

The secretary of state is also the chief election officer, who must certify candidates and election results. The office is the official keeper of records where administrative rules of state agencies are filed, and the adopted official rules of state agencies are maintained, under the Arizona Administrative Procedures Act. The secretary of state's office registers trade names and trademarks, and issues certificates of registration. The term is for four years.

Brewer, Collins and DiCiccio are all Republicans; Cummiskey is a Democrat; and Nottingham is a Libertarian.

Jan Brewer

Party affiliation: Republican

Age: 56

Years in Arizona: 32 years

Residence: Glendale

Jan Brewer has four main goals for the secretary of state's office:

Ensure the integrity of the election process;

Assist military personnel to vote;

Protect consumers;

Increase voter participation

While Brewer does not have specific plans regarding the integrity of the election process and voter participation, except to defend the process and encourage participation, she has outlined plans to implement her other two goals.

To assist military personnel to vote, Brewer has authored legislation to streamline the voting process for servicemen and women at duty stations outside the state. She plans to create a system that allows the military to cast and receive a ballot by fax, as well as receive confirmation that the local election office received the absentee ballot.

Instead of creating new consumer protection laws, Brewer would rather work with law enforcement and Better Business Bureaus to identify scam artists and incarcerate them.

Brewer has been a member of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, first elected in 1996, and chairman in 1998 and 2001. She resigned from the board in February to run for Secretary of State.

She was also a member of the Arizona Legislature for 14 years, working as a representative from 1983 to 1986 and in the senate from 1987 to 1996.

Sharon Collins

Party affiliation: Republican

Age: 57

Years in Arizona: 14

Residence: Vail

With Betsey Bayless at her term limit, Sharon Collins believes she is her natural successor as Arizona Secretary of State.

"I worked closely with Betsey in setting up the secretary of state's office in Tucson," Collins said.

If elected, Collins promises that her tenure will be pro-active.

"The duty of the secretary of state is to act as the chief elections officer," she said. "In that capacity, I will vigorously enforce Arizona election rules and procedures to ensure equal treatment for all voters."

She also pledges to upgrade voting technology, expand the vote-by-mail election process, and work with the governor and others to open a secretary of state's office in northern Arizona and to enhance the operation of the southern Arizona office.

Collins grew up in Virginia, and earned a B.S. in elementary education at Radford College. From 1968 until 1982, she taught public school in Maryland, New York and Virginia.

In 1982, she started her own business. She borrowed $75,000, renovated an old Catholic church and started Central Childcare Center. It became one of the top five childcare centers in Southern Maryland.

Two years later, she opened a preschool in another center that was also successful. The two centers had a combined enrollment of over 150 children and a staff of more than 30.

In 1987, she married Jim Collins, sold her business and moved to Massachusetts where she attended Tufts University Graduate School and taught kindergarten. She moved to Tucson in 1988.

In 1989, Sharon established Woodland Assisted Living Center, a supervisory care facility for the elderly. In 1990, she merged her business with Catalina Village retirement apartments and started an assisted-living program.

Collins became deputy director of the governor's southern Arizona office in 1997, and was responsible for constituent services, southern Arizona policy and public speaking on the Governor's behalf.

She has two children and five grandchildren. For more information, call (520) 275-1774 or go to info@collinsforsecretary.com.

Chris Cummiskey

Party affiliation: Democrat

Age: 37

Years in Arizona: 26

Residence: Phoenix

Arizona Senator Chris Cummiskey, a Phoenix Democrat, was the first person to declare his candidacy for Arizona secretary of state.

In his announcement speech, Cummiskey promised that his themes, if elected, would be inclusion and the rise of new state leadership. His priorities, he said, would be promoting new elections technology, economic development and consumer concerns, and making it easier for businesses and young people to relate to government.

Cummiskey, whose political career began in 1991 as a member of the house, spoke out against politics as usual.

"This race," he said, "is about cultivating a new crop of leaders who are more interested in problem solving than partisanship."

A 1983 graduate of Brophy College Preparatory who earned a B.A. in communications at Arizona State University, Cummiskey believes he has been a force for positive change in the state legislature for the last 12 years. Most recently, he received national recognition as one of the prime architects of the historic responsibility sharing agreement in the evenly divided state senate.

He has also been a leader in key policy areas such as school violence prevention, affordable prescription drugs for senior citizens, neighborhood revitalization and election reform.

Cummiskey's family moved to Phoenix from Connecticut in 1976. After graduating from ASU, he started his own consulting firm which specialized in strategic planning and marketing. It was this experience that led him back to his alma mater, Brophy Prep, in 1988. He became the school's first director of alumni relations, a position he held for five years.

In 1990, Cummiskey was elected to the Arizona House of Representatives, unseating a well-entrenched incumbent lawmaker. He quickly gained a reputation as a problem solver who could work effectively with legislators from both parties.

In 1994, Cummiskey was elected to the Arizona State Senate. Since his election, he has been successful in forging broad coalitions to address some of the most pressing issues facing Arizonans. Cummiskey served as the Assistant Minority Leader from 1999-2000 and is presently the Assistant Senate Floor Leader.

He and wife Victoria have an 18-month-old daughter and a 2-month-old son.

For more information, call (602) 542-4916 or go to azchris.org.

Sal DiCiccio

Party affiliation: Republican

Age: 44

Years in Arizona: 39 years

Residence: Phoenix

DiCiccio is running for secretary of state because he believes it is time for new and creative leadership for the state, and time for a new direction.

He owns a small business and served for a time on the Phoenix City Council. He also is a former member of the Arizona Tax Code Commission and was appointed by the governor to the Growing Smarter Working Advisory Committee. DiCiccio also served as staff assistant to both Congressman John J. Rhodes and Senator John McCain.

He has a six-point plan he wants to implement when elected:

Political reform, beginning with full disclosure of the amount of money spent on lobbying;

Voter fraud, including the prosecution;

Telemarketer No-Call List;

Rural economic development, including a proposal that the secretary of state assist the governor on important policy issues;

Upgrading Arizona's election systems, including eliminating the use of punch cards, which 10 of Arizona's counties are still using;

Assisting the military to vote, including the use of the Internet.

Other plans on DiCiccio's plate are creating a Senior Posse of retired citizens to work with school children in developing civic responsibility and protecting consumer privacy rights.

Sean Nottingham

Party affiliation: Libertarian

Age: 36

Years in Arizona: 30

Residence: Phoenix

Nottingham is a former public relations assistant at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and retired Army officer, serving in both the Reserve and on active duty.

He is currently teaching government and history at Camelback High School, and has been in the education field for 10 years.

He said the strength he would bring to the office of secretary of state is the fact that he is a Libertarian and his party is not in power.

"Impartiality and objectivity are the hallmarks of a fair election and since I have no obligations to powerful party bosses or office-holding friends, I believe that I am the best-suited candidate to oversee Arizona's elections," Nottingham said.

The goals he has set for himself as secretary of state include:

Improve elections by phasing out faulty punch card voting machines

Audit all Arizona voter registration rolls

Implement a "No Call" list to protect citizens from harassing telemarketers

Lobby to change Arizona's primary from September to May, providing for a longer general election period and creating more interest in elections.

"My goals that are unrelated to the office are speaking out for the respect of human life and securing our southern border.

"While the other candidates are career politicians, I am an ordinary citizen attempting to bring common sense ideas into our government," Nottingham said.

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