Corporation Commission Race Offers Most Choices

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The race for the Arizona Corporation Commission offers voters the largest choice of candidates.

Three positions must be filled on the regulatory board. Two of the slots are for two-year terms, ending in 2005, and one is a four-year term post, ending in 2007.

There are four candidates in the race for the two, two-year terms and two vying for the four-year term.

The only incumbent in the contest is Jim Irvin, a Republican, who is seeking election to the four-year term. His competition is James Walsh, a Democrat.

The candidates for the two, two-year terms are Democrats George Cunningham and Roland James, and Republicans Lowell "Mike" Gleason and Jeff Hatch-Miller.

The three Democrats are running as a team.

The commission regulates rates charged by gas, water, sewer, electric and telephone utilities; it also regulates issuance and enforcement of securities and the formation and filings by corporations doing business in Arizona.

For the One Four-Year Term

Republican Jim Irvin, an Arizona resident for 19 years, 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 CSG Security Services Inc., a trucking and alarm service company, with more than 1,100 employees.

"One of the key issues I have supported during my term is balancing and protecting the needs of consumers versus those of large corporations. I am proud of the protection we have afforded consumers against securities fraud. We have recovered more than $300 million in restitution for victims of securities fraud," Irvin said.

Democrat James Walsh wants the commission to develop common sense energy and telecommunication policies, and to regulate utility rates fairly.

Walsh has made his home in Arizona for 32 years and is a lawyer and former state senator. His work in the Legislature with economic development, dispute resolution and conservation experience uniquely qualifies him to serve Arizona, according to his statement in the Citizens Clean Election Commission pamphlet.

"Encouraging competition must be tied to achieving lower costs for consumers and more reliable service. 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 said in his pamphlet statement.

For the Two, Two-Year Terms

Democrats seeking election to the two, two-year terms on the commission are George Cunningham and Roland James.

Cunningham has a background in finance and public administration, which he believes has prepared him to tackle the consumer, financial and regulatory issues facing the commission, according to his statement in the voters' pamphlet.

Cunningham served eight years in the Arizona house and senate, was vice president of the University of Arizona and Governor Rose Mofford's chief of staff.

"Common sense regulation and vigorous oversight are needed to ensure that reliable and economical energy and telecommunications services are available statewide; consumers pay a fair and affordable price for quality service; Arizona's utilities remain financially healthy; and the commission and utilities are both consumer friendly and environmentally proactive," Cunningham said in his statement in the voters' pamphlet.

Roland James has experience with the corporation commission, he served as an assistant to Commissioner Renz Jennings for 14 years.

"Enron, Qwest, the California electricity debacle and executives exercising billions of dollars in stock options while workers, investors and consumers suffer are reasons we should return to the strong, fair, public interest regulation like Teddy Roosevelt advocated. Only then will we counterbalance the power of large corporations providing public goods like electricity," James said in his statement in the voters' pamphlet.

He also said he supports more energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Republicans seeking election to the two, two-year terms on the Arizona Corporation Commission are Mike Gleason and Jeff Hatch-Miller.

Mike Gleason, 75, has lived in Arizona for 16 years.

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 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, 57, has made his home in Arizona for 26 years.

"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 Web site, 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 has also been a business owner.

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