Former Republican Arizona Rep. Chris Ackerley is moving toward retaking his old District 2 seat in the Arizona Legislature. He’s filed paperwork to seek election to the seat he lost in to Democrat Daniel Hernandez in 2016.
He was first elected to the state Legislature in 2014 in Legislative District 2, which spans from southern Tucson to Nogales. It also includes Sahuarita and Green Valley. He won the seat in a heavy Democrat stronghold following the redistricting in 2010.
“I think I can make a pretty decent case that I was a very effective representative for the district that I served and can continue to be,” Ackerley told the Green Valley News. “The gentleman who took my seat has not had that much effect on the legislative process.”
Ackerley was successful in pushing six bills thru the Legislature during his time which was more than all Democrats in the district combined since redistricting.
Ackerley is 45 and lives in Sahuarita. He has been a high school teacher for 17 years, with the majority of those years at Tucson’s Amphitheater High School. His wife, Melissa, is also a school teacher.
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Education is a priority issue for him along with infrastructure and transportation, he said. He said it’s important to have Republicans in the Legislature from Southern Arizona because they are in the majority and largely set the agenda. Sometimes that agenda bends in favor of Maricopa County, he said. A Republican helping shape legislation will ensure that models outside Maricopa County get an airing on such issues as community college funding and restoring fourth-year JTED dollars. He also wants to see the renewal of Prop. 301, a 20-year education sales tax that expires in 2020.
Ackerley said it wasn’t easy to make the decision to run again.
“It takes a toll personally and financially to serve in the Arizona Legislature,” he said. “It was a tough decision.”
He took leave during the spring semester to serve in the Legislature, and said he would do so again if re-elected. He will run as a traditional rather than Clean Elections candidate, with no limits on how much he can raise.
Anthony Sizer, an engineer and Republican, has also filed to run for the House in LD2, along with Democratic incumbents Rosanna Gabaldon, who lives in Sahuarita, and Hernandez, who lives in Tucson. State Sen. Andrea Dalessandro, a Democratic, is opposed by Republican Bobby Wilson; both live in Sahuarita.
The 2018 is being closely watched for any effects President Trump could have on elections, down to the local level. Ackerley doesn’t think that ultimately it will matter.
“I think national politics is going to have an impact but I sort of bristle at the idea that it’s all about national politics,” he said. “I think the voters are smart enough to discern that this is about your local representation.”
Copyright 2018 Southern Arizona News-Examiner