Friday, November 25, 2016

Arizona-Thankful for public servants on both sides of the aisle

By Jon C. Altmann
News Analysis
Media News Services

Phoenix ­­‑- Elections have closure as well as consequences.  Among the "closures" are the good public servants I have worked with on veterans and public education issues whose common sense rose above party and ideology.  Their honesty and tenacity on issues set the bar for others.

Jonathan Larkin

Primary election losers were on both sides of the aisles - and a loss of legislators who were veterans.  Jonathan Larkin, a Democrat from Legislative District 30, lost in his primary.  Larkin, a Marine Corps combat veteran of Iraq, crossed the party lines and when he did, his caucus got upset with him.  The same courage that he showed in his service in the Marines reflected in his concern for issues that were greater than party.  Jonathan is a friend and I hope he continues to serve in other ways.

Adam Driggs

Adam Driggs is some I define as a gentleman and man of faith. I was proud to be his running mate in 2008 for the State House and every election since worked to support his efforts to stay in office.  He decided not run for re-election this year to the State Senate from District 28 and Republican Kate Brophy McGee will be taking his place.

Adam has been a champion of some veterans' bills and worked hard behind the scenes to use his law degree to show fellow legislators what smarter efforts would be on some issues.  It was my privilege also to have known and spoken with Adam's dad, the late John Driggs, another true gentleman whose cause was to have others come together for the good of the state or the City of Phoenix.  The elder Driggs, a former Phoenix Mayor, was the cloth that Adam was cut from and a piece of John lives on in Adam's great skill as a fair-minded public policy maker.

While I shall miss Adam in the Legislator, I still have him as a good friend.  I am sure his return to full-time law practice will keep him involved in helping our state.  He's been a reasonable conservative and if he has a boiling point, I've never seen it.  He is a true living testimonial in being a person of faith that cares about others.  Adam is the quality of person that if he called in the middle of the night and needed help, I'd simply get up and do what I could.  The Driggs' name stays in politics, however, his wife Lenore is the incoming Justice of the Peace in the Arcadia JP District.  Lenore, a former school teacher, will now be handing out legal lessons at the courthouse.  Adam assures me he is not going to her law clerk, however.

Jeff Dial
Jeff Dial lost his primary to retain his District 18 state senate seat in what has been a drawn out race of asserting that Jeff did not serve his country, when he did, and while Frank Schmuck best him in the primary by about 1,400 votes, Schmuck lost the general election to Democrat Sean Bowie by double his victory, or a bit more than 3,000 votes.  Dial had served a stint in the Army Reserve and left honorably, yet Schmuck has wrongly accused him of faking his service.  It seems the District 18 voters in the general had a different view.  In the end, business, education and veterans issues were well served with Jeff's thoughtfulness.  I hope he considers another run for public office.

Bob Robson

An upset in District 18 was Bob Robson losing to a Democrat. Robson was a friend of public education.  The Democrats continue to occupy the back seat in the Legislature, as they have more than two decades, yet as an educator myself, I wonder why the AEA did not back Bob.  Bob has been a good public policy person for a long time in both the legislature and the Chandler City Council. He holds a Master's degree, is a community college teacher, and has always been a reasonable person on the issues.  I shall miss Bob's absence next session and hope there is another bite of the apple before the voters for him in 2018.

Andy Kunasek

Finally, another great public servant is stepping down, Andy Kunasek, after 19 years as a Maricopa County Supervisor, is being replaced by former Phoenix City Councilman, Bill Gates.  Andy, another great person of faith and example of calm in government, is focusing his efforts on business interests.  He has been a thoughtful person who, like Adam Driggs, has shown dignity in public office and avoiding name calling ideological battles and soap boxes. A legacy to his years of service is that his efforts contributed to making one America's counties debt free - no small task.

Those that have given their time will be missed. Let's hope January 2017 brings good service by others following the example of the bar of service set by good people who served well in the years before.

Distributed by Media News Services.  All Rights Reserved. 2016.

Editor's Note: Jon C. Altmann is the senior editor at Media News Services and a former daily newspaper journalist.  He currently works full-time as a teacher and owner of a public safety consulting firm.  He is the volunteer legislative affairs representative and National Vice President of the Association of the U.S. Navy.  Opinions and views by Mr. Altmann do not reflect the organizations he works for or he performs volunteer activities.