Lagging infrastructure defines District 23 race - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Lagging infrastructure defines District 23 race

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Posted: Friday, August 22, 2008 7:06 pm | Updated: 11:26 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Senate District 23 is a traditionally Democratic district with Pinal County residents the majority of its constituents. There will be no Sept. 2 primary election, as longtime legislator Rebecca Rios is not being challenged for her Senate seat by anyone in her own party.

7 vie for 2 spots in Legislative District 23

Republican business owner Andre Campos, however, is scheduled to provide a challenge in the Nov. 4 general election.

The candidates agree that the district needs improved infrastructure - roads and schools in particular.

The district is suffering a decline in the housing market as acutely as anywhere in Arizona. Foreclosure rates in Pinal County are among the highest in the state.

However, Rios said that as the next wave of development hits the county, places like Florence and Coolidge need to make sure that developers are paying for schools and needed roads. The explosion of growth in the last 10 years has left the county lagging in infrastructure partly because a lack of fees - especially in the northeast part of the county in areas like Johnson Ranch.

"We need to have developers pay for those kinds of things so that the burden doesn't fall back on existing Pinal County residents," Rios said.

Rios served six years in the House and was elected to the Senate in 2004. Campos said that the experience that Rios brings to the table can be seen as a negative.

He said that Pinal County hasn't transformed into an environment that would attract businesses along with the boom of residential growth. A lack of road network and undeveloped infrastructure is much of the reason, he said.

"The problems here are the same ones we have had six years ago, eight years ago, 10 years ago," he said.

Campos describes himself as a classic conservative. He said he believes in low taxes and less regulation for business.

"We already have an educated work force - if we create an environment for business, they will come," he said.

Rios, who serves as the Senate minority whip, said her experience provides her access to the top levels of government. Pinal County's issues can be discussed with Gov. Janet Napolitano, she said.

"That direct access is an extreme benefit to District 23," she said.

Campos counters that the Democratic leadership has led to state budget projections that are out of whack with reality. He said the solution could be to trim across all government departments, and he is skeptical about government growing as the economy is shrinking.

"We can trim across the whole budget, and everyone would be better off," he said. "Government is growing faster than inflation. Why?"

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