Corporation Commission Races Offer Voters Variety Of Choices

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The Arizona Corporation Commission has four seats to be filled in the 2004 elections. One seat is for a two-year term, expiring Jan. 1, 2007. Three seats are for four-year terms which conclude Jan. 1, 2009.

FOUR-YEAR TERM (3 seats)

Mike Gleason (R)

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Mike Gleason

Incumbent Mike Gleason, 77, is a former state representative, who holds a doctorate in plant physiology from Iowa State University.

Noting that the corporation commission must consider the interests of both consumers and utilities, Gleason believes he has the background to get the job done.

"Striking this balance requires the ability to study and comprehend complex testimony and judge each case on its merits -- not on what might be politically popular at the time," he said. "I have over 30 years of professional experience working for Cargill, Monsanto Chemical and the Rockefeller Foundation. In my career, I have lived in Mexico and France and have worked in most European countries, Russia, Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Peru and six African countries."

Gleason ticked off a list of accomplishments during his term on the commission.

"As a commissioner, I act as a judge and decide cases that come before the commission," he said. "I have levied fines against utilities and railroads that failed to follow the law. I have ordered con artists to provide restitution to defrauded investors. I also set fair rates that keep utility customers' bills as low as possible while still allowing sufficient revenues to the utility to maintain its system in a safe and reliable manner.

"As commissioner, I also act as a lawmaker. Last year, I proposed new rules that require a telephone company to notify customers that it plans to discontinue service. Without this rule, Arizonans wouldn't know their long distance provider skipped town until they received their next bill and saw that their service defaulted to a provider of last resort that could be charging a much higher rate."

During the recent Pine Water Company rate case, Gleason proposed an amendment to the decision requiring the Brooke Utilities subsidiary to provide a detailed plan that addresses ways to reduce water loss to less than 10 percent. During the hearings, he called Pine Water Company's water loss rate of 12.6 percent "unacceptable.

Gleason's e-mail address is mikglea@msn.com

Jeff Hatch-Miller (R)

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Jeff Hatch-Miller

Incumbent Jeff Hatch-Miller, 59, is a former legislator, business owner and teacher who has a doctorate in psychology.

He is proud of the commission's accomplishments during his tenure.

"Arizona's present commission is enjoying the reputation as one of the best in Arizona's history," he said. "Hard work and dedication, coupled with a reasoned approach to regulation, make it one of the highest functioning, (most) forward-thinking commissions in the nation."

Hatch-Miller explained how he has managed to balance the interests of consumers and the utilities.

"I make certain that there is no discrimination in charges, service, or facilities between persons or places," he said. "I balance ratepayers' needs for reliable service and affordable prices, while ensuring that utilities can earn a fair rate of return on their investment.

"This balance is achieved through hard work: fact-finding, study, and analysis. It includes listening to citizens, regulated entities, their competitors, experts, the Residential Utility Consumer Office and any others who have pertinent input to the decision.

Hatch-Miller believes the commission has steered a prudent course on electricity deregulation.

"Surrounding states first embraced deregulation, then abandoned it completely after the California experience of rolling blackouts and sharp price spikes," he said. "Arizona instead was able to make important adjustments to an otherwise healthy plan so that we can have an electric utility system that will continue to provide safe, reliable and affordable electric power to Arizona citizens while receiving full benefit from an open marketplace for electric power.

"One adjustment was the Arizona Corporation Commission's nullification of a section of an earlier restructuring regulation that required the privatization of power plants. Arizona utilities once again have the option of building generation and transmission facilities on their own to keep up with Arizona's ever-expanding demand for electricity."

Hatch-Miller also noted that the commission has worked to take advantage of the large number of merchant power plants by purchasing as much power on the open market as is economically beneficial to ratepayers.

Hatch-Miller's e-mail address is jeff@hatch-miller.org and his campaign website is www.hatch-miller.org.

Mark Manoil (D)

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Mark Manoil

Mark Manoil, 46, is a Phoenix lawyer and a lifetime resident of Arizona.

"The corporation commission can and should better represent Arizona's needs," Manoil said. "I will put Arizona residents' health, safety and pocketbooks ahead of corporate interests."

At the same time Manoil says he will work to improve Arizona's long-term livability and economic vitality.

"I pledge to bring fairness, common sense and balance to the corporation commission," he said. "I will strive to be a steward for Arizona's present and future, respecting the commission's role under the Arizona constitution for consumer protection and economic health."

A published authority on Arizona property taxation, Manoil also promises to provide rigorous oversight of utilities, with an emphasis on stable prices, high standards of service, and improved environmental performance. He also promises to promote clean, renewable energy resources and energy efficiency for both residential and business consumers.

Manoil questions the wisdom of electricity deregulation in Arizona.

"After the California experience and that of many other states, it is unlikely that there will be a push to amend the Arizona Constitution that requires the ACC to set just and reasonable rates," he said. A more robust wholesale market will be required as a precondition to further attempts to require retail competition. "It is also worth noting that the Salt River Project and Arizona Public Service do not want to compete with each other and would likely fight any such proposal. As distributed technologies (photovoltaics, fuel cells, and micro generation) expand, consumers would have another competitive option for electric energy. The commission should facilitate this future competitive option."

Manoil earned his undergraduate degree at Stanford University, and his law degree at Arizona State University. He is a former Democratic state committeeman, former chair of the Arizona State Bar Internet Committee, a board member for East Valley Habitat for Humanity, current chair of the Nucleus Club of Maricopa County and owner and manager of Property Investment and Publishing Company.

Manoil's e-mail and campaign website address is www.manoil2004.com.

William A. Mundell (R)

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William A. Mundell

Incumbent William Mundell, 51, has served on the commission since 1999.

The former state legislator, attorney and municipal judge believes the role of a commissioner is "quasi-judicial (like a judge) in nature, that is we listen to all the evidence presented and reach a decision based on the record."

The commission, Mundell says, is charged with protecting consumers from being overcharged, while also providing utilities with a reasonable return on their investments.

"It is the commission's duty to balance these two interests," he said. "The primary responsibility of the commission is to ensure that consumers -- both residential and business -- receive reliable utility service at a reasonable price. In order for this to happen the utilities must receive a reasonable rate of return so that they are able to build and maintain adequate infrastructure."

The Paradise Valley resident explained the commission's thinking on electricity deregulation during his tenure:

"The commission has taken a go-slow approach to deregulation in order to ensure that consumers are protected," he said. "In fact, Enron sued the commission because we did not adopt its risky deregulation scheme. Thankfully we won.

"In any case, if there is going to be electric deregulation, the bottom line is that under any deregulation plan the consumers must be better off than they would be under traditional rate of return regulation."

During the recent Pine Water Company rate case hearing, Mundell proposed an amendment directing the company to "participate in all appropriate efforts to discover and implement a regional approach to solving water shortage problems in the the Payson/Pine/Strawberry area."

Mundell refuses to sugar-coat the water situation in the Rim country.

"Everyone needs to work together to find a regional solution both on the water conservation side and finding new sources of water," he said. "We've just been given new information from the University of Arizona indicating this may be worst drought in 600 years, and we don't know how long it's going to last."

Mundell's e-mail address is wamundell@aol.com.

Nina Trasoff (D)

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Nina Trasoff

Nina Trasoff is president of a corporate communications firm and a former reporter and anchor at ABC affiliate KGUN-TV in Tucson.

During her newscasting career, Trasoff wrote and produced dozens of award-winning documentaries and investigative reports on topics ranging from the special needs of children to violence against women.

Trasoff believes the role of commissioners is to listen to all sources of information and then find the appropriate balance.

"Utilities have a right to a fair return, but the big question is what is a fair return on investment?" she said. "It's also critical to look at the impact of any decision we make on the families who end up paying those rates."

Trasoff believes the current commission is unbalanced, not only because all its members are Republicans, but also because they are all from the Valley.

"I don't think it's Republicans versus Democrats," she said. "I think it's having too many people with the same approach to issues. That doesn't tend to lead to a very broad-range discussion.

"I think the problem is too much similarity in background and approach," she continued. "All five of them are from Phoenix, which gives them a certain perspective. I don't want to be elected just because I'm not from Phoenix, but it's the perspective in terms of geography, in terms of gender, in terms of political background."

Trasoff has strong feelings about the water challenges facing rural Arizona communities.

"(The Rim country) is a lot like Tucson, but on a more intense level," she said. "That's one of the perspective differences. There's a very big water conservation movement (in Tucson), but I wonder if Phoenicians even understand the word ‘xeriscape.'

"We have to be looking at the basic necessities of life as a priority," she added. "Forgive me, but golf isn't one of them.

"The priority has to be healthy communities, and if you're having to pay extra in Payson because the water that is yours is being bled off by SRP for lakes and golf courses in the Phoenix area, I think that is a screwed up priority."

Trasoff's e-mail and website address is nina@trasoff.com.

TWO-YEAR TERM (1 seat)

Kris Mayes (R)

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Kris Mayes

Kris Mayes, a graduate of Arizona State and Columbia universities and a life-long resident of Arizona, was appointed to fill the seat created when Jim Irvin resigned.

The former reporter believes that one of the most important roles of a commissioner is to look out for the interests of ratepayers and consumers.

"In this day and age, when so many Arizonans are living on fixed incomes and when so many are working harder and harder for a living, I believe it is the role of every commissioner to ensure that consumers and ratepayers get a fair deal at the commission," Mayes said.

The commission was wise to put the brakes on electricity deregulation, but Mayes believes some elements of the concept are worth salvaging.

"Deregulation may be dead as it was once defined, but I believe there is still a way to foster a limited marketplace for wholesale power. Competition has proven viable in some states where groups of individuals, such as housing developments, municipalities, and other large organizations such as large businesses have been allowed to aggregate or pool their purchasing power to buy power on the market."

Mayes, who has taken an active role in the Pine Water Company rate case, believes that small water companies need to do more to promote conservation.

"Some experts suggest we are in the early stages of an epic drought, and in recent months we have seen several private water companies run out of water, forced to truck water in just to keep the supply flowing," she said. "Despite lacking well water to pump, some of these water companies do not yet have curtailment tariffs and continue to hook new customers up. This is unacceptable.

"We must implement hook-up moratoriums for water companies that are nearing exhaustion of their wells, and require that all water companies come to the ACC for a curtailment tariff, which allows them to enforce certain water usage conditions during times of water emergencies and shortages."

Mayes' e-mail and campaign website address is www.mayes04.org.

Rick Fowlkes (L)

The candidates below were defeated in the primary election.

Scott Clark (D)

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Scott Clark

Corporation commission candidate Scott Clark, 48, is running for public office for the first time.

The Phoenix resident is an attorney who has had his own practice for 20 years. A native Arizonan, Clark recently changed party affiliation.

"I became a Democrat at the beginning of 2004 after being disappointed by how far to the extreme Republicans had become, while being inspired by straight-talking Democrats like Howard Dean, Wesley Clark and John Kerry," the former Arizona Supreme Court law clerk said.

Clark believes the proper role of a corporation commissioner is to impartially enforce Arizona's rules and regulations while also being an advocate for consumers, individuals and businesses of all sizes.

He is critical of the commission's performance leading up to and during the rupture of the Kinder Morgan pipeline.

"Excuses that the corporation commission did all it could are no longer acceptable to the citizens of this state," he said. "As commissioner I will help build a coalition of states who share the interstate pipeline safety concern to help ensure that pipelines like these are safe at all times."

Based on the experiences of other states, Clark believes electricity deregulation would be a mistake for Arizona.

"In California, for example, electricity deregulation only served to confuse consumers and generated a lack of confidence in the other new sources of electricity," he said. "In the end, savings were difficult to calculate, and, at the end of the day, only the large industrial, institutional and commercial facilities gained from deregulation."

The bottom line, he believes, is the impact deregulation has on the consumer.

"Arizona does not need to spend the resources other states have spent in exploring deregulation and then implementing a program, only to find that there was no net benefit to the consumers," he said.

Scott's e-mail and campaign website is www.ScottClark04.com.

Carl Seel (R)

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Carl Seel

Carl Seel, who has run for public office twice before, is an advertising executive who touts his experience in small business and securities.

If elected, he says he will "start streamlining the process of incorporating businesses, because businesses are what keeps this state's economy moving forward."

Seel believes there are several aspects to a commissioner's role.

"(He is) a person that balances the needs of the ratepayers and the utilities, one that enhances consumer confidence by securities law enforcement, and a person that has an eye on the economic and energy needs of the future."

The interests of both consumers and utilities must be taken into consideration, Seel believes.

"I would balance the interest of consumers and the utilities, by proper investigation and public testimony to arrive at a decision in the best interests of the people of Arizona," he said.

Seel believes rate cases should be settled without full evidentiary hearings when possible.

"I think that when the best interest of the public can be served by a commission decision outside of trial it should be achieved," he said. "However, there are always cases that require full legal proceedings to send the message of proper law enforcement."

Electricity deregulation, Seel believes, takes preparation and planning.

"The future for electrical deregulation in the state of Arizona as I see it will involve several things -- one, the proper planning to compensate the companies that set up the current infrastructure; two, a solid plan for future energy production; third, the approval of the Legislature as to the plans," he said.

"To sum up, we have a way to go to create a plan that will work for all."

Seel emphasizes his belief in Republican values.

"I believe that all life is sacred from conceptionnd beyond," he said. "I believe our hildren, families and older Americans are a great resource that this country and state need to protect. I want to encourage large and small business growth here in Arizona."

Seel's e-mail address is voteseel@email.com. and his campaign website is www.voteseel.com.

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