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Our Views: Ducey deserves second term; other state leaders don’t

August 11, 2018

There’s a lot that can be improved about state government, starting with the governor’s office. However, it’s probably smart for Arizona voters to keep Doug Ducey around for a second term.

As a political rookie, it took a while for Ducey to settle into his role as Arizona’s tone-setter in chief, but we finally got a glimpse of real leadership during this year’s legislative session. Ducey opened up the new year with a call for a special legislative session to deal with the opioid crisis. Thanks to Ducey’s prodding, the legislature passed a bill that provided funding for treatment, increased oversight and enforcement and put important resources into the hands of local law enforcement and first responders.

On other matters, Ducey has been a little slow to react. That was most apparent in the education funding discussion that emerged late in the legislative session, but Ducey eventually outlined a legislative framework that allowed the state to increase education funding, with plans to boost teacher pay by 20 percent. It makes Arizona more competitive in attracting quality teachers, but time will tell whether the changes were a smart move. It’s unfortunate that the state was forced to react to a public outcry, manipulated by teacher unions, rather than being proactive about education funding in the first place. It’s clear that Ducey needs to make education funding one of his top priorities in the next term.

Finally, Ducey ought to spend a lot more time outside Maricopa County.

There are matters of statewide importance that demand his attention; a notable example is the ongoing discussion about the availability of water. We’re only aware of two visits by Ducey to Lake Havasu City in the last four years, and they were both campaign stops.

Still Ducey has set the wheels in motion on a number of matters and ought to be given the opportunity to see them through.

In other state races, it’s time for new leadership. The offices of the state superintendent of schools and secretary of state need new blood.

The first term of state superintendent Diane Douglas, despite her attempts at reform, was disappointing at best, marked by feuding with her own board of education and a tone-deaf response to the #RedForEd movement. The superintendent’s office needs new ideas and someone who knows how to implement them amid whatever political maelstroms may arise.

Meanwhile, the incompetence shown in the handling of the 2016 election by Michele Reagan’s office showed its time for a new secretary of state. You’ll recall that the secretary of state’s office deprived hundreds of thousands of voters information about proposals on the ballot that year. At first her office refused to acknowledge the error in time for those voters to get informed in time to cast a ballot, and then they blamed the problem on vendors. It’s hard to say whether her actions — or rather, her lack of them — helped sway the election one way or another, but it doesn’t matter. It’s time for real leadership in that office.

Finally, the state treasurer’s office features a race between Republican candidates Kimberley Yee, the State Senate majority leader, and Jo Ann Sabbagh, a small business owner from Tucson. In this case, Yee is clearly qualified. Since joining the legislature in 2010, she has proven to be an effective leader and had demonstrated that she can handle the duties of office — which include making sure tax dollars are spent transparently and managing the state’s permanent land trust.

— Today’s News-Herald

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