Meet the candidates: Arizona’s gubernatorial election, part I

In our five-week series, The State Press will highlight the candidates and their platforms. This is part I.

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Name: Matt Jette
Party: Republican
Age: 37
Current city: Apache Junction
Number of years in Arizona: 9

Reason for running:

Thirty-two years ago Matt Jette made a promise to his best friend that he would get in a position “to where you can create an opportunity for everybody, regardless of who they are.” His best friend later died of cancer.

Ten years ago, Jette met a girl in Oregon who needed a double heart-lung transplant, but she couldn’t cover the cost. She died six months later.

“I made a promise that I’ll be in a position next time to make it different, and running for governor is one of those things where you can make a difference,” he said.

Jette said he is friends with another family whose daughter needs a double-lung transplant and can’t pay for it because of the money cut from the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) by Gov. Jan Brewer, he said.

Health care reform is one of his major issues, and he believes it is a right, not a privilege.

Past experience:

Jette received a doctorate degree in political science in 2009 from ASU, with a focus in American government and public policy.

He said he’s been homeless, jobless, had Medicaid and Medicare, food stamps and SSI.

He helped start a nonprofit organization in the 1990s called Donors for Life, which helps transplant donors.

He recently worked with pharmaceutical sales at Merck & Co., Inc.

Stance on education:

“Education is key for me in moving Arizona forward,” he said. “It’s key for me to build opportunities for individuals [in college], individuals in high school, to move forward.”

“Education reform has to come down to more than just students’ performance,” Jette said. “To help students, you have to actually allow them to learn how to think again, not to memorize formulas. I think college is a great way of doing that.”

He voted in favor of Proposition 100.

“If you didn’t vote for Prop 100, the alternative was completely unacceptable,” Jette said. “There was going to be massive layoffs.”

However, he said that he finds it hard to believe that a tax increase was the only option.

“There’s a way that you can save hundreds of millions of dollars in education without cutting jobs,” Jette said. “The one thing you do is close down underperforming charter schools.”

He said the cost of education shouldn’t financially bankrupt students, and he said one reason for the high cost is because universities and colleges are operating as businesses.

“You don’t care if [students] graduate. In fact, you kind of want them to keep going in, but it makes it harder for the other students to get done on an appropriate time period,” Jette said, including the difficulty of getting into some classes.

Stance on immigration:

“I’m the only Republican that’s adamantly opposed to SB 1070,” Jette said. “I do not think it’s good policy. I think it’s the wrong mechanism to handle the undocumented workers [or] illegal immigration.”

He said there is racial profiling associated with the new immigration law.

“After all, what’s the one group of people that’s always talked about with SB 1070?” Jette said. “The first people you talk about are people from Mexico.”

He said the law was used to blame illegal immigrants for the economy, and he thinks there needs to be an actual immigration policy, including a pilot program and border crossing cards.

He also is in support of amnesty.

Stance on economy:

Jette believes the economy is the number one issue.

“You need a core industry to move the economy forward,” Jette said.

He gives the example of a solar energy base and a light rail system from Tucson to Flagstaff using federal dollars.

“We have three great universities…where we can actually tap into what’s happening in biosciences and high technology,” Jette said.

There needs to be better leadership, he said, including working across party lines and improving education in order to help the economy.

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Name: Alvin Ray Yount
Party: Libertarian
Age: 65
Current city: Prescott Valley
Number of years in Arizona: 12

Reason for running:

Alvin Ray Yount decided to get back into politics because President Barack Obama was elected, and he didn’t approve of some of the president’s programs.

Past experience:

Yount spent seven years working for Santa Barbara County in California, which included managing the budget.

He worked as a corporate executive for five years and has been a private entrepreneur for more than 10 years.

He taught in the past at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and at Prescott College.

He currently owns Yount Communications, which is a publication company.

Stance on education:

Yount voted against Proposition 100, although he said it was for a worthy cause.

“My issue is we’re in a fiscal crisis, and we have to take care of our money first,” Yount said.

He said higher education funding is needed, but again he said the budget needs to be fixed first and the government needs to be restructured.

Stance on immigration:

Yount said he is OK with SB 1070, but it doesn’t fix the immigration problem.

It’s easier to send illegal immigrants back to their country with the new law, he said, but they will still come back.

“While it might sound harsh, what I will do is use the illegals themselves to build the fence,” Yount said.

He said that Arizona, Alabama and Florida used forced prison labor successfully and legally.

Because of this controversial stance, he said he probably wouldn’t be reelected, but he also only wants to serve one term and avoid becoming a “career politician.”

“I don’t have to get reelected,” Yount said. “I can make those difficult decisions without worrying about my career.”

Yount doesn’t think the recent immigration law promotes racial profiling.

The law requires a probable cause to make an initial stop, and everyone is required to have a driver’s license, he said.

When he was 14 years old, he said he was stopped in Texas by the U.S. Border Patrol because they needed to check his nationality, even though he is White. He said he was not offended.

Stance on economy:

“I think we have to spend more money on education and we have to have fewer taxes both,” Yount said. “To do that, then we have to spend what we’re taking in more wisely, which means we’re restructuring the government.”

He said the government can’t spend more than it takes in.

In order to balance the budget, Yount said he would allow budget decisions to be made at the mid-management level where people are actually preparing the budget.

He said he wouldn’t cut staff, but county and state mid-management officials would be told to cut their budget by a certain percentage.

“We will actually cut across the boards on day one,” he said.

Reach the reporter at reweaver@asu.edu