A crowded field of four Democrats and five Republicans are vying for two seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission this November. The commission has recently taken heat for approving a controversial rate increase for APS and was wrapped up in a long-running lawsuit by commissioner Bob Burns that tried to pry loose information about alleged donations from APS’ parent company to the campaigns of two Republican commissioners. Last year, former Commission Chairman Gary Pierce was indicted on bribery charges along with the CEO of small water company regulated by the ACC.
Democratic candidates have latched on to those controversies, calling for an end to corruption within the regulatory body and painting the commission as one that more often works on behalf of the utilities it regulates instead of the customers it is supposed to serve.
The four have also emphasized increasing renewables in Arizona.
Reflecting on a recent campaigning trip, candidate Bill Mundell wrote on his Facebook page, “everywhere I go, there's agreement on the need for more renewable energy. And then the question: Why aren't we the ‘Solar Capital of the World’?”
Both Mundell and fellow Democratic candidate Sandra Kennedy have served on the commission before.
Jake Bell, a business analyst and technical writer, and Kiana Sears, a Mesa school board member, are the other Democratic candidates for the job. Their campaign platforms echo support for wind and solar power and protecting water resources.
Backing for increased renewables is notably absent from the campaign messages of the Republican candidates for corporation commission.
Eric Sloan, the CEO of a Phoenix public affairs firm, states his priority is on keeping utilities safe, reliable and affordable. Attorney Rodney Glassman wants the commission to adopt the same codes of conduct followed by judges and stated on his website that while solar is in the headlines, he would bring a strong focus on water issues. In 2010, Glassman ran against John McCain as a Democrat but switched his party affiliation a few years ago. Protecting consumers and getting tough on fraud are among the priorities of retired businessman Jim O’Connor.
Brenda Barton, a current state representative for Legislative District 6, has also filed to run for the commission but hasn’t posted information online about her candidacy.
Justin Olson is the only Republican candidate with a history on the commission. A former state Representative who was appointed to the commission in 2017, Olson is running to keep his seat. News reports have pointed out that during his time in the legislature, he received significant campaign contributions from companies that he is now charged with regulating.