Vote TechSmart

by Don Rodriguez

As every other session of the Arizona Legislature ends, the campaigning to fill seats of both chambers in the next session begins in earnest. But long before the drop of the gavel, a small group of people has already been working on the election outcome — except you won’t find any of their names on a ballot.

They are members of the Arizona Technology Council’s Public Policy Committee who work to develop endorsements of those candidates they believe will best represent the state’s technology scene if elected. The recommendations and other information from the committee can be found in the biennial Vote TechSmart Guide published by the Arizona Technology Council. 

Work starts as the legislative session proceeds each year and the committee members track the outcomes. “The legislative priorities for the technology industry that are championed and supported by the Council are a key starting point,” says Ron Schott, the Council’s executive emeritus who serves as staff liaison to the committee. “We seek legislators to sponsor and support bills that will make the technology industry in the state of Arizona thrive and grow.”

As alternating sessions end, Schott explains, the committee generates a survey and sends it out to all incumbents and new legislative candidates who have filed to run in the upcoming election. Here’s an example of the questions asked in the most recent survey:

Arizona boasts a wide impact to both national security and our state economy with over 1,200 companies in aerospace, aviation and defense representing thousands of high-paying private-sector, military and civil service jobs, including those at military installations across the state. What do you feel can be done to protect and enhance Arizona’s competitiveness when it comes to the aerospace, aviation and defense sector of the state economy?

Any new candidate seeking a Council endorsement also must agree to a June interview with members of the committee and its lobbying firm, Public Policy Partners (P3). This year, more than 60 candidates were interviewed. After the interviews, the Council sends out a press release with a list of endorsements.

When published in the Vote TechSmart Guide, however, the endorsements feature more than a list. The names are accompanied by brief highlights of what each candidate indicated in his or her survey and interview, if applicable. Every recommendation is earned. “The committee sometimes endorses multiple candidates from the same party in the same district and sometimes endorses no candidate from any party,” Schott says.

The performances of incumbents are graded in the “Tech Hot, Tech Not” section of the guide. Grades are determined through a two-fold process that includes legislators’ responses to a survey. After the legislative session ends, the committee tallies the votes by all the legislators on 12 to 15 bills critical to the Council and weighs whether they have followed through on what they claim in the survey. The committee then awards each incumbent a grade that reflects the past two years he or she has served. Schott says some legislators support all bills favored by the Council, usually bringing them an “A” grade.

This grading also guides the Public Policy Committee in selections later for the top legislators of the year and top senator and representative of the year. This group is recognized at the annual Governor’s Celebration of Innovation in early November.

The Council also has a state political action committee (PAC) funded by individual members, committee members and board members. Funds are used to assist many of the endorsed candidates in their campaigning, Schott says. 

Arizona Technology Council Endorsements

Brief explanations of why candidates were named are in the complete Vote TechSmart Guide available at


District 1: Karen Fann (R)

District 2: Andrea Dalessandro (D), Shelley Kais (R)

District 4: Lisa Otondo (D)

District 5: Sonny Borrelli (R)

District 6: Sylvia Allen (R)

District 7: Jamescita Peshlakai (D)

District 8: Frank Pratt (R)

District 9: Jim Love (D)

District 10: David Bradley (D)

District 11: Vince Leach (R)

District 12: Jimmy Lindblom (R)

District 14: Drew John (R)

District 15: Heather Carter (R)

District 16: David Farnsworth (R)

District 17: J.D. Mesnard (R)

District 18: Sean Bowie (D)

District 19: Lupe Contreras (D)

District 20: Paul Boyer (R)

District 21: Rick Gray (R)

District 22: David Livingston (R)

District 24: Lela Alston (D)

District 28: Kate Brophy McGee (R)

District 30: Tony Navarrete (D)

House of Representatives: 

District 1: Noel Campbell (R)

District 2: J. Chris Ackerley (R),Daniel Hernandez (D)

District 3:  Andrés Cano (D), Alma Hernandez (D)

District 4: Charlene Fernandez (D)

District 5: Regina Cobb (R)

District 6: Bob Thorpe (R)

District 8: David Cook (R), T.J. Shope (R)

District 9: Randall Friese (D), JP Martin (D)

District 10: Todd Clodfelter (R), Kirsten Engel (D)

District 11: Mark Finchem (R)

District 12: Warren Petersen (R), Blake Sacha (R)

District 13: Darin Mitchell (R), Tim Dunn (R)

District 14: Becky Nutt (R), Gail Griffin (R)

District 15: John Allen (R), Nancy Barto (R)

District 17: Jeff Weninger (R)

District 18: Jill Norgaard (R)

District 19: Diego Espinoza (D)

District 20: Anthony Kern (R), Chris Gilfillan (D)

District 21: Kevin Payne (R), Tony Rivero (R)

District 22: Ben Toma (R)

District 23: Jay Lawrence (R), John Kavanagh (R)

District 24: Ken Clark (D), John Glenn (D)

District 25: Rusty Bowers (R), Michelle Udall (R)

District 27: Reginald Bolding (D)

District 28: Kelli Butler (D), Maria Syms (R)

District 29: Cesar Chavez (D)

District 30: Robert Meza (D), Bill Brotherton (D)

Tech Hot, Tech Not

Critical to the grades are incumbents’ voting records on issues affecting technology.

Grade A

Sen. Sonny Borrelli 

Sen. Sean Bowie 

Sen. Kate Brophy McGee 

Sen. Karen Fann 

Sen. Rick Gray 

Sen. Gail Griffin 

Sen. Frank Pratt 

Sen. Bob Worsley 

Sen. Steve Yarbrough 

Sen. Kimberly Yee 

Rep. Noel Campbell 

Rep. Heather Carter 

Rep. Todd Clodfelter 

Rep. Regina Cobb 

Rep. Doug Coleman 

Rep. David Cook 

Rep. Drew John 

Rep. Jay Lawrence

Rep. David Livingston 

Rep. Becky Nutt 

Rep. TJ Shope 

Rep. Bob Thorpe 

Rep. Michelle Udall 

Rep. Jeff Weninger 

Grade B 

Sen. Sylvia Allen 

Sen. Nancy Barto 

Sen. David Bradley 

Sen. Judy Burges 

Sen. Lupe Contreras 

Sen. Andrea Dalessandro 

Sen. Steve Farley 

Sen. David Farnsworth 

Sen. John Kavanagh 

Sen. Sine Kerr

Sen. Robert Meza 

Sen. Catherine Miranda 

Sen. Lisa Otondo 

Sen. Jamescita Peshlakai

Sen. Warren Petersen 

Sen. Steve Smith 

Rep. John Allen 

Rep. Lela Alston 

Rep. Brenda Barton 

Rep. Reginald Bolding 

Rep. Rusty Bowers 

Rep. Paul Boyer 

Rep. Kelli Butler 

Rep. Cesar Chavez 

Rep. Ken Clark 

Rep. Tim Dunn 

Rep. Kirsten Engel 

Rep. Diego Espinoza 

Rep. Charlene Fernandez 

Rep. Mark Finchem 

Rep. Randa Friese 

Rep. Daniel Hernandez 

Rep. Anthony Kern 

Rep. Vince Leach 

Rep. J.D. Mesnard 

Rep. Darin Mitchell 

Rep. Tony Navarette 

Rep. Jill Norgaard

Rep. Kevin Payne 

Rep. Tony Rivero 

Rep. Maria Syms 

Rep. Ben Toma 

Grade C

Sen. Olivia Cajero Bedford 

Rep. Richard Andrade 

Rep. Mark Cardenas 

Rep. Eddie Farnsworth 

Rep. Rosanna Gabaldon 

Rep. Travis Grantham 

Rep. Ray Martinez 

Rep. Paul Mosley 

Rep. Macario Saldate 

Rep. David Stringer 

Rep. Kelly Townsend 

Grade D 

Sen. Katie Hobbs 

Sen. Juan Mendez

Sen. Martin Quezada 

Rep. Wenona Benally 

Rep. Eric Descheenie 

Rep. Mitzi Epstein 

Rep. Rebecca Rios 

Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita 

Grade F

Rep. Isela Blanc

Rep. Sally Ann Gonzales 

Rep. Geraldine Peten 

Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley 

Rep. Athena Salman

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