By Teri Carnicelli
Three seats are up for grabs on Aug. 30 in Arizona’s District 28, and some of the candidates have very familiar faces.
Arizona’s Legislative District 28 includes nearly the entire core of North Central Phoenix, largely from Thunderbird Road south to just short of Camelback Road, and 19th Avenue all the way to Scottsdale Road. It stretches as far west as the I-17, north to Union Hills Road, and south to Thomas Road.
Both House seats are up for grabs and so is the one Senate seat, as Republican Adam Driggs opted not to run for what would have been his fourth and final term for that senate seat. Over in the House, Rep. Eric Meyer (D) reached his term limit of eight years but fellow legislator Kate Brophy McGee (R) could have tried for one more two-year term. Instead, they will face each other as they vie for the senate seat in the same district.
Meyer, who grew up in Scottsdale, was first elected to the Arizona House in 2009. He earned a degree in economics from the University of Southern California and a medical degree from University of Arizona Medical School. Meyer’s background in economics and medicine has given him an insight into the growing problems of access to quality, affordable health care—especially for children—and to identify ways to work for solutions in strengthening the state economy. Meyer, who served two terms on the Scottsdale School Board, also has been a strong advocate for public education and affordable college tuition.
“I tried this past session to restore the $116 million cut from K-12 schools and to restore $50 million cut to our state universities using existing revenues. Unfortunately we didn’t have the votes,” he said.
“I am running for the State Senate because I have a very different vision for our state than what we’ve seen from our current majority leadership or from my fellow LD28 representative,” Meyer said. “As a state senator, I will support different legislative leaders who will take our state in a different direction. I supported Prop 123 and the restoration of KidsCare but that is not enough.
“With one in four children living in poverty, 1,500 cut off from temporary assistance on July 1 and 19,000 children in foster care—all while Arizona sits on a budget surplus—our priorities are wrong, and need to change,” he pointed out. “This election the voters have the chance to bring competition and choice to the state legislature. As a state senator my goals going forward are to ensure that we have many more legislative successes that improve the lives of Arizona’s families and children. The voters of District 28 have the chance this election to alter the political landscape of our state.
“Without change, the current majority will continue to cater to special interests at the expense of our children’s future—and our state’s future.”
Brophy McGee was in the midst of her third term in the Arizona House of Representatives when she decided to run for the vacant senate seat. “My decision to run for Senate was a result of Sen. Adam Driggs’ decision not to seek a fourth term in the Senate,” she explained. “I’ve been a very effective leader in the House, and want to continue that leadership in the Senate.”
Brophy McGee is a third-generation Arizonan, born into a ranching family and raised in southern Arizona. She graduated from the University of Arizona and worked as a community banker lending to small businesses. She and her husband have lived in the North Central Phoenix area for more than 30 years, and all three sons attended Sunnyslope High School.
“As Arizona has recovered from the Great Recession, I’ve worked for and succeeded in restoring funding to K-12 and higher education, and increased and protected funding for our most vulnerable children, the elderly and the disabled. Much more work remains to be done on these issues going forward. I’ve consistently demonstrated the ability to garner the necessary votes in the House, in both a partisan and bipartisan manner. Many of the bills I’ve sponsored, including the formation of the Department of Child Safety as a standalone agency whose director reports to the governor, have also passed the Senate and been signed by the governor,” she pointed out.
“I’ve also had some bills die in the Senate that passed with broad support in the House. An example includes Angel’s Law, which requires DCS to conduct a background check on adults living in the home before returning an abused, neglected child to the home. The bill passed twice in the House with overwhelming support, but was held in the Senate. This legislation is important for our most vulnerable children, and if I am elected to the Senate it is one of my top priorities to enact.”
As for the two vacant House seats, there are several contenders, including Republicans Kenneth Bowers, Mary Hamway, Matt Morales, Maria Syms and Alberto Gutier III and Democrat Kelli Butler. Information on these candidates appears below.
Kenneth Bowers, 71
Phoenix, AZ 85020
Bowers, a U.S. Navy veteran, spent more than 20 years working for the Arizona Department of Corrections. He is the only Dist. 28 candidate endorsed by the Trump team. He has a diverse working background, including owning a medical billing service company, serving as a nuclear engineer for the Surry Nuclear Power Station and Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station, and teaching physics and metallurgy. He has a law degree and is a member of the State Bar of Arizona. He has a strong interest in prison reform.
Kelli Butler, 39
Paradise Valley, AZ 85253
Butler, who has managed Butler Family Dental and also served on the Madison Education Foundation Executive Board, was a candidate for the State Senate in 2014. She believes it is imperative that funding be restored to public education, from pre-K through college. She also points out that crucial infrastructure projects and maintenance throughout the state were neglected during the economic downturn and asserts that now is the time for investment in Arizona’s future, in part by attracting high-quality jobs and businesses to the state.
Alberto Gutier III, 54
Phoenix, AZ 85012
Gutier is a partner with Guiter Group LLC, a public relations/government affairs agency established in 2000 that specializes in interfacing with local, county, state and federal government entities. No website or campaign information could be located as of press time.
Mary Hamway, 61
Paradise Valley, AZ 85253
Hamway is a current councilwoman and former vice mayor for the Town of Paradise Valley. She has served on the council for nearly 10 years. Hamway has a long history of community service, and prior to moving to Arizona in 1994, worked for 18 years in the information technology field. Hamway has been involved in Republican Party activities and has served as corresponding secretary and first vice chair for the Legislative District 28 GOP. She is a precinct and state committeewoman.
Matt Morales, 37
Phoenix, AZ 85014
Morales, a self-described entrepreneur, is an Arizona native. He is a strong advocate for small business, and small government. Morales believes that a free market is the “key to achieving many of the goals we as a state have set before us and that government regulation stands between small business and success.”
Maria Syms, 48
Paradise Valley, AZ 85253
Maria Syms is a 14-year resident of LD28, mother of three, assistant attorney general, Paradise Valley Town councilwoman, and former Assistant United States Attorney. Through her work as an attorney and senior advisor to the attorney general, Syms has pushed for state legislation and policies to promote small business and job growth, encourage the free market and keep more money in the pockets of hard working Arizona families.