Candidates for Legislative District 17

The Gilbert Chamber of Commerce has endorsed Jennifer Pawlik (House) and Jeff Weninger (House).

Basic Information

Liz Harris (House)

Community of Residence: Dobson Place, Chandler

Business: Liz Harris Realty

Occupation: Real Estate Broker

Education Background: Doctorate of Integrative Medicine, MBA Pace U, Mathematics B.A.

Brief summary of employment history: Small business entrepreneur, real estate, retail, manufacturing

List of community organizations you belong to: Girl Scouts of America (lifetime)

How long have you lived in the District? 21 years

Jennifer Pawlik (House) - *Endorsed by the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce*

Community of Residence: Chandler

Business: Education

Occupation: Instructor

Education Background: Master’s degree, NAU

Brief summary of employment history: I was elected to the Arizona House of Representatives in November of 2018. I serve on the House Education and the House Judiciary Committees. I have taught kindergarten-sixth grade for 17 years, and I have taught in the College of Education for NAU Extended Campuses for 4 semesters.

List of community organizations you belong to: LD 17 Democrats, Precinct Committeeman; Sun Lakes Democratic Club, member; Census 2020 Chandler

Jeff Weninger (House) - *Endorsed by the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce*

Community of Residence:


Co owner and VP of Dilly’s Deli and Floridino’s Pizza and Pasta


Same as above

List of community organizations you belong to:

Current member of Childhelp State Advisory Board and Chandler Chamber of Commerce
Past Organization involvement – Member of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, Chandler Airport Commission, Chandler Domestic Violence Commission, Board member Chandler Symphony Orchestra

How long have you lived in District 17? I have lived in District 17 for over 15 years

Give three (3) of your qualifications/skill sets that make you a leading candidate for the Arizona Legislature. Explain why these qualifications make you a better candidate than your opponents.

Liz Harris (House)

The skill sets I offer which make me a leading candidate for the Arizona legislature are:

• The ability to relate to people

• Resilience/drive/conviction

• Intellect with a win/win approach

Very often a commonsense solution-based approach is all that is needed. With the above skill sets, I am confident that after listening to constituents and respective lobbyists, I am greatly skilled at articulating the win/win solution without compromising conservative values.

Jennifer Pawlik (House) - *Endorsed by the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce*

Three qualifications I have include excellent listening skills, patience, and attention to detail. It is critical that legislators are good listeners, so that they can truly understand the situation/problem/bill. At the capitol, we often encounter people with different viewpoints and/or leadership styles. By exhibiting patience, I can begin to understand their perspective and build relationships despite the differences we have. Finally, showing attention to detail allows me to understand the finer points of the issues and to hone in on questions to ask to more deeply understand the issues. This also allows me to be able to explain both sides of the issues to my colleagues. These skill sets allow me to be a calm, contemplative legislator.

Jeff Weninger (House) - *Endorsed by the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce*

A. Work ethic – I am willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. I read every bill and every email that I receive. I field phone calls and have meetings with constituents and organizations like the Gilbert Chamber. When I decide to run a bill I go all in. My record is around a 75% pass rate for the bills that I run.

B. Compromise – I am not so rigid that I am not willing to compromise. I am solutions and results oriented and work with that mindset.

C. Tough – I will do what it takes to get the job done. I will stand with or against anyone if it is what is best for my district. I will always do what is right not what is politically expedient.

What is your vision for the State in 20-30 years?

Liz Harris (House)

My vision for the state in 20-30 years is for Arizona to be one of the top relocation states in the country for business and residents. This would include but not be limited to incentivizing businesses to relocate to Arizona, maintaining low property taxes, drastically increasing the ranking of Arizona schools on the national scale and making sure our infrastructure and transportation systems are modernized and efficient without being a major tax burden on businesses and residents.

Jennifer Pawlik (House) - *Endorsed by the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce*

My vision for the state in the next 20-30 years is that we have a properly funded PK-University system that prepares students for the good-paying jobs of the future. I envision a place where people can afford home ownership and healthcare. Ideally we would also have a modern transportation system and a solid infrastructure system in place as well.

Jeff Weninger (House) - *Endorsed by the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce*

My vision is for Arizona to be the entrepreneur capital of the United States. I envision a state that has a well-educated workforce from our K12 and university system. It is also a state with a low tax and low regulatory environment that is the tech hub of this great country.

What are the top two (2) priorities you would push to accomplish during your term as a member of the Legislature and why do you believe these are important to accomplish?

Liz Harris (House)

My two priorities would be to keep taxes low and while making sure that Arizona flourishes as an innovative state. Lower property taxes make Arizona a desirable state for homeownership and investors. Additional taxation should be discouraged. I was a huge supporter of Prop 126, no tax on services in 2018 and this is now an Arizona constitutional amendment. As Arizona's population increases over the next several years, it is important for us to be on the forefront of technology. It is important our quality of life is maintained during this period of expansion. This would include fiscally responsible state-of-the-art SMART transportation systems and SMART master planned cities/housing so that both businesses and residents can enjoy all that the state has to offer.

Jennifer Pawlik (House) - *Endorsed by the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce*

As a life-long educator, my top priority is education. The issues in the field of education are great, and I anticipate it will take many years of dedicated work to solve them. In my first term, I have worked on issues relating to mental health in schools, gifted education, and dyslexia. I am a co-sponsor on the governor’s Project Rocket plan and a plan to provide pre-kindergarten for four-year olds in high poverty areas. Hand-in-hand with education is work-force development. Business leaders share that they struggle to hire properly prepared individuals for entry-level positions. I have introduced bills that would provide fourth-year funding of CTED programs in fields with the greatest need. I have also introduced a bill to expand the Teachers’ Academy to include school counselors and school social workers. These priorities are important to accomplish because educated people have a greater chance for success. When people are properly prepared for life after high school or college, they can make a positive impact on our community.

Jeff Weninger (House) - *Endorsed by the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce*

A. Continue to fund public education appropriately and also provide Arizonans with school choice

B. Continue to create an atmosphere that is welcoming to business and startups large and small. It is important to have a regulatory and tax environment that will allow and invite people and businesses to Arizona.

What do you believe is the preferred way to accomplish funding for education (at all levels) and what should the role of the State be in that funding?

Liz Harris (House)

Unfortunately, funding for public schools has historically resulted in a system that rewards wealthy communities and punishes schools in poor neighborhoods. A high-quality education is fundamental to our modern economy and republic but not solely at the expense of the taxpayer. I do support funding provided through the Basic State Aid funding formula, including local property taxes and trust land earnings. I find that the trust land earnings are not currently being maximized to the fullest and this needs to be revisited. To address the inequalities in communities, a state initiative to incentivizing high caliber teachers to teach long term in areas of poverty would be conducive as long as we have non-taxpayer based funding solutions. I believe parents/students should learn where it best suits them and the State should continue to support School Choice and the voucher program- Arizona along with Florida are models of success when it comes to School Choice.

Jennifer Pawlik (House) - *Endorsed by the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce*

The state has a critical role in education funding. Some areas of the state (like LD 17) strongly support our public school system when they approve bond and overrides. However, there are many communities that do not, or cannot, approve school bonds and overrides which leads to unequal funding. Quite frankly, the funding formula needs to be analyzed and reworked. The A and B weights for special education funding do not make sense now that open enrollment is so widespread. Students living in poverty have very different needs and often have wide gaps in their learning, yet we do not have a “poverty weight” in Arizona. We also need to examine the high transportation costs that greatly impact the rural districts.After attending many study sessions about school funding during the interim, I don’t believe there is a preferred way to fund education. The issue is quite complex and will require many wise people working diligently to make the change that is much overdue.

Jeff Weninger (House) - *Endorsed by the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce*

I believe this is a complex problem and the answer is to come at it from many different directions. First off, I support the Governor’s 20x2020 proposal. This isn’t the finish line but a 20% raise in less than two and a half years is significant. Add the additional assistance being restored and it is a lot more. In addition to that we need to continue to find revenues for education and other agencies. Finding efficiencies and unique revenues can do this. For example, Airbnb is a new revenue that brought in 11 million dollars in its first year. Wayfair legislation also leveled the playing field for local retailers and is bringing in extra revenue.

How would you propose to deal with Health care costs in Arizona and affordability for all?

Liz Harris (House)

Arizona has had a huge issue with big premium swings over the last couple of years. Companies came in with unsustainable low rates solely for the purpose of gaining market share. Consumer needs were greater than expected. This made Arizona residents very uneasy and they had little to no control. Affordable health care or health care reform should be patient driven. Telemedicine is trending and currently reasonably priced. Affordable healthcare can be accomplished by having enough competitive market-based alternatives that empower the individual to control the decisions and the dollars regarding their own health care. This would mean that there would need to be much greater transparency of all costs from medical procedures to equipment/supplies. Accounts would be controlled by patients who are willing to manage the finances of their own healthcare thus creating a more competitive marketplace.

Jennifer Pawlik (House) - *Endorsed by the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce*

I believe that there should be many options for people to access health care which is why I voted in support of the of allowing Association Health Plans (A Chamber priority in 2019). It makes sense to be proactive and to promote preventative care as a way to lower costs and to encourage a healthier community. I support programs that offer healthcare for children who do not qualify for AHCCCS and do not have private health insurance. The children will be healthier if they have access to care, they will miss less school, and they will have greater success and graduation outcomes. Additionally, I support a bill that would allow pregnant women on AHCCCS to have access to dental care. Studies show that this care greatly improves birth outcomes, which of course ends up being a cost savings to the state.

Jeff Weninger (House) - *Endorsed by the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce*

This is mainly a federal issue. Having said that Arizona can continue to make common sense changes to help alleviate the problem. Things like providing access to different types of plans and allowing creative solutions for a more efficient system.

If elected to represent the District, who would you consider to be your stakeholders and how would you propose to represent them?

Liz Harris (House)

If elected to represent the District, the stakeholders would be all residents and business owners residing in Legislative District 17. Fair representation means consistent communication with constituents and to be sure to let them know that I am never too busy for them. It would be important to explain to constituents how difficult decisions were made and voted on and in some cases explaining the process of how we got there. It is important to keep my word, be careful what I agree to, be a problem solver and work with the media and colleagues to the best of my ability.

Jennifer Pawlik (House) - *Endorsed by the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce*

The stakeholders of the district are those who live and work in the community. As an elected Representative, I regularly contact leaders throughout the community including those in our school systems, the chambers, city/town officials, and the police chiefs. I call or email if an issue will impact our community so that the leaders can share their insight with me. I recognize and welcome their expertise. I happily meet with constituents both at the capitol and in the community on the weekends. I read hundreds of emails each week and track the position of community activists and regular citizens.

Jeff Weninger (House) - *Endorsed by the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce*

I have many stakeholders in Legislative District 17. A few of them would be district residents, businesses, business groups, nonprofits, schools, police, fire, Town of Gilbert, Chandler and Sun Lakes.

What experience do you have with complex budgets

Liz Harris (House)

In the real estate world, I served as President and Treasurer of multiple profit and non-for-profit entities with complex budgets that were always either in the black or zero based budgets. As a Mathematics major and with a Master Degree in Business, numbers are my passion.

Jennifer Pawlik (House) - *Endorsed by the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce*

As a member of the minority party, I’ve experienced little collaboration on the State budget. Negotiations on budget matters are between the governor and the majority party. The minority caucus prepares our own suggested budget each year, and I have had a part in that preparation. We work together first in small groups, and then as a caucus we discuss our priorities. From those discussions our proposed budget is designed. Throughout the session, all members regularly vote on bills with very large appropriations. It’s important that we keep in mind both the incoming revenue and the outgoing expenses. We must also be cognizant of on-going funding vs. one-time monies.

Jeff Weninger (House) - *Endorsed by the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce*

I have considerable experience with budgets. First, I have experience with budgets as a business owner. Every year we make a budget and hold our management team accountable for hitting those budgets. I also have considerable experience with budgets within government. I worked on 8 budgets as a city councilman for Chandler and 6 budgets as a state representative. Part of the Chandler budgets were during the recession and some were with growing revenues.

How would you propose to interact with the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce and how do you see your respective roles on issues that may come before the State Legislature?

Liz Harris (House)

As a Graduate of the Chandler Chamber Leadership program, I understand fully that the Chambers of Commerce are vital to the health of local business and community. I would work closely with the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce as needed. My respective role on issues that come up would be to articulate the position of the Chamber as it relates to the economic vitality of the community.

Jennifer Pawlik (House) - *Endorsed by the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce*

There are a variety of ways that I interact with the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce as an elected Representative. I attend events as my schedule permits, and I have open lines of communication with Kathy Tilque and the lobbyists who represent the Chamber. We communicate by phone and email. As mentioned above in question #6, I proactively contact the Chamber if there is an issue that impacts the Gilbert business community. Additionally, I communicate with the Chamber in advance of a vote when I am opposed to a measure that the Chamber supports. I believe active communication between us is very important. We will not always agree on the issues that come before me at the legislature, but I believe we should be cooperative and respectful within our roles.

Jeff Weninger (House) - *Endorsed by the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce*

I would continue to come and update the Chamber in person as well as always being available to you. The Gilbert Chamber and their members should always have easy access to their elected representatives.