by Jim Nintzel
Here's something I've been meaning to post for some time: Last year, in lieu of covering a dreadfully boring City Council election, I wrote up a piece about 10 Simple Rules for political candidates.
Bob Westerman, a Republican seeking to challenge Democratic Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia in westside Legislative District 27, is the first candidate to write us to explain how he plans to follow the 10 Simple Rules.
We enjoyed his thoughtful letter so much that we're posting it here. And if any other candidates feel like sending in their response, we'll post that, too. Probably.
Take it away, Bob!
1. Explain Why You Are Running
Arizona is facing a lot of difficult social and financial problems. In particular, I'm tired of seeing Arizona continuously ranked at the bottom in education. I feel many of Arizona's issues are interrelated and will require solutions that consider the overall picture and the long-term impact to people and the state economy. My 30+ years of working in industry, provides me with the skills that I believe a Senator will need to successfully tackle these problems.
2. Have a Plan
I plan to focus on education and healthcare. For an example, in education I want to resolve the Flores legislation issue. Local schools are forced to comply even without the funding the state has been directed to spend. I want to reduce the size of the ADE at the state level and move the funding down to the local schools. I don't support school building bonds because this increases costs and jeopardizes future budgets. I want to change the compulsory age from 16 to 17 to discourage kids from dropping out. I want to face the NCLB issue head-on and return student assessment testing to the local level. I want to propose a new program that provides scholarships for math and science majors who agree to teach for four years. In health care, I'm going after cost. I want to draft legislation that addresses awarding excessive damages but protects the injured party's rights. At the same time I want to be sure insurance companies pass these savings on. I strongly support the Emergency Treatment Burden of Proof bill, which is currently being proposed for the third time. I want to encourage the use of convenient-care clinics like CVS and Walgreens. I want to propose a new physical fitness and nutrition awareness program that specifically targets school age children.
3. Have Some Idea About How Government Works
The Arizona government is becoming more complicated every year. With a state budget of over $10B, legislators need to spend considerable time reviewing financial forecasts and expenditures. Last year's JLBC forecast didn't accurately forecast revenue for 2008 -2010. This was one of the factors that led to this year's shortfall. Unfortunately the Arizona Legislature gets a late start in the process when they start session in January. It would be nice to be involved in the forecast process. Since I'll be retired from Raytheon, I will be available full time during the interim period and will be able to work with the JLBC and OSPB. During the session the drafting, proposing, and sponsoring of bills become priorities; however, as with the budget, time I can spend during the interim period will help me better prepare my sponsored bills.
4. Have a Campaign Strategy
Aside from the quixotic aspect of campaigning in a heavily Democratic district, we have a campaign strategy. First, I assembled a staff to help me campaign. Having a Democrat, Independent, and a strong conservative Republican on my staff has really helped me take a more in-depth look at the issues using different perspectives. "How am I going to win?" Clearly I'll have to knock on a lot of doors, but we are researching each precinct so we can spend our limited resources where we can get the best results. I have a lot of NPD and Independents to go after in LD 27 but I'll also want to aggressively campaign for the Hispanic vote and we must get Democrats to look at my platform. I plan to debate Senator Garcia to convey my message; I believe his voting record doesn't align with the district's interests. Bottom line, I'm writing a new playbook and it probably won't look like LD 26 or 30.
5. Raise Money
I am running as a Clean Elections candidate. This wasn't a decision that I made lightly. I assumed (and correctly) that Senator Garcia would run clean. This means I would have to rise over $90K just to stay even. Realistically, in a year where McCain and Bee will be sweeping up the available money, I'll have to rely on a financial strategy that uses my money better than Senator Garcia uses his.
6. Put Up a Useful Web Page
7. Have Some Relevant Experience
Work on the state budget? I have years of experience in not only developing very large (multi-million dollars) and detailed budgets but I also have developed and identified realistic risks and opportunities. Research is critical in any budget as is using a zero base. Yes, I will challenge all department leadership. Need to draft a bill? Start with the right data and facts, use language that is clear and understandable, and then negotiate with your peers to gain their support. I have written and negotiated very complex subcontracts with small and very large companies, as well as with the government. Need a new innovative approach? I was assigned to work with General Motors to develop ways to leverage subcontractors; I helped with the sharing of technology from Raytheon suppliers to develop the Electric Vehicle. Regarding education, I recently completed 17 units in PCC's teacher preparation program and have about 30 hours of high school classroom observation time. This has helped me understand education issues from the teacher's perspective. Although I was unsuccessful in 1992 as a candidate in the California congressional primary, I gained some very useful experience that I plan to use for this campaign.
8. 'Fess Up
Good advice. The staff and I have used background check websites to see if there's anything out there about me. The good news is that I've held a secret or higher clearance for almost my entire adult life and had an extensive background check when I became a reserve deputy sheriff in Los Angeles County.
9. Call Us Back
I answer my phone messages and emails after I get off work. I answer my home phone at night. I have my personal cell phone on during weekends. My email and cell phone are on my website. Yes, I promise to call you back as soon as I am able.
10. Rehearse Your Lines
This I will do. I am working with my staff to develop the "sound bites" we believe best convey my message.