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District 6 state representative candidates make their case
ELECTION 2018

District 6 state representative candidates make their case

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On Tuesday, voters will look over their ballots to decide which two representative candidates for Arizona's 6th Legislative District will get their vote.

Meanwhile, vote counters will have already gone through thousands of early ballots from cities like Cottonwood, Flagstaff, Sedona, Holbrook and Payson. The current incumbent on the ballot is State Rep. Bob Thorpe, running for his last term, with fellow Republican Walter Blackman running for his first term. The rest of the ballot includes Democratic newcomers Felicia French of Pine and Holbrook mayor Bobby Tyler.

The different candidates have a myriad of qualities that they believe make them qualified for the state representative state. Blackman declined to comment for this article.

Gun ownership

With each mass shooting, the discussion over gun rights and gun laws becomes more divisive. Democratic candidates have taken to the issue of creating stricter gun laws while Republican candidates have continued fighting for the rights of gun owners.

Thorpe has received an A rating from the National Rifle Association. He recently passed a bill that expanded gun rights for Arizona peace officers. In it, he expanded gun rights to law enforcement officers employed by any jurisdiction in the United States operating in Arizona.

Blackman served for 22 years in the Army as a combat veteran and sexual harassment and assault prevention specialist. In July during the primary election, he said that he believes schools should install metal detectors with armed security guards. At the time, he had no explanation on how the funds would be acquired for an installation.

French is also a veteran, serving 32 years, and retired as a Colonel. She said that as a gun owner, she had more restrictions to use a gun in the military than she has as a citizen. She did not like that citizens are able to buy weapons at trade shows without a background check. Tyler and French's beliefs are close to each other.

Public lands

Tyler opposes the fracking attempts that have been made in the northern Arizona area. He believes that fracking will poison our water and lead to several different kinds of ecological disasters. In addition, he plans to continue to speak against uranium mining.

French said she believes that as a soldier, part of what she was fighting for was to protect public lands. She cites climate change and the damage to national parks as reasons that she wants to continue to protect public lands.

Thorpe sponsored and co-sponsored two bills that would create opportunities for public lands to be transferred from federal ownership to state ownership, which modify protections for Arizona public land. Thorpe explained his actions by saying the Arizona State Land Department does a better job managing and making money off of the land than the federal government.

Government spending

French says she wants to create renewable energy jobs for people in her district, citing the abundance of sun and wind as a great source for the economy. She said she would like explore reducing the state’s dependence on fossil fuels by setting up an education program to transition workers into renewable energy jobs while phasing workers into retirement if they so choose.

Thorpe said that he believes revenue received by the state belongs to the taxpayers. He hopes that with the newfound funds in Arizona’s economy, he can give a raise to Arizona Department of Public Safety officers and correction officers to help retain and hire better-trained officers.

Tyler has worked jobs in various industries and hopes to improve people’s access to broadband internet, although he did not explain how he hoped to do so. Tyler also focused on the need to improve roads as a matter of public safety and suggested restoring funding to the highway user revenue fund.

On Blackman’s campaign website, he states that he hopes to fix “the growing education crisis facing our state and lack of economic opportunities,” although it does not go into further detail.

Scott Buffon can be reached at sbuffon@azdailysun.com, on Twitter @scottbuffon or by phone at (928) 556-2250.

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