2024 Legislative District 13 Candidates

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Candidates running for Legislative District 13:

Senate (1 seat):

  • J.D. Mesnard (incumbent)
  • Sharon Winters

Representative (2 seats):

  • Nicholas Gonzales
  • Julie Willoughby (incumbent)
  • Jeff Weninger
  • Brandy Reese

Campaign Email Address: info@gonzalesforaz.com
Campaign website or social media account: Social Media: @gonzalesforaz
Community/Neighborhood of Residence: Chandler
How many years have you lived in District 13?: 23
Name of Employer: Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc.
Occupation or Title: Community Planner
Brief Summary of Employment: (1) Community Planner (2) Small Business Owner (3) Senior Planner (4) Law Clerk (5) Military Planner
Educational Background (List Format): (1) Bachelor's of Science in Urban Planning - Arizona State University

Campaign Email Address: brandy@reeseforaz.com Campaign website or social media account: https://www.reeseforaz.com/
Community/Neighborhood of Residence: Chandler
How many years have you lived in District 13?: I have lived in the East Valley for 7 years.
Name of Employer: Civic Engagement Beyond Voting
Occupation or Title: Organizer
Brief Summary of Employment: - Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, Senior Criminalist (Forensic Scientist)
- Civic Engagement Beyond Voting, Organizer
- Save Our Schools Arizona, Organizer.
Educational Background (List Format): - University of Oklahoma, Bachelor of Science (Chemistry), Sociology Minor, 1997
- Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET), 1999
- Basic Police Academy Training | Advanced Peace Officer Certification (CLEET #73343)
- Oklahoma State Bureau Of Investigation, Leadership Development Program 2007-2011.

Campaign Email Address: julie.willoughby.campaign@gmail.com
Campaign website or social media account: www.juliewilloughby.org
Community/Neighborhood of Residence: Chandler/Gilbert LD 13
How many years have you lived in District 13?: I have lived in Chandler for 8 years
Name of Employer: House of Representatives
Occupation or Title: House Rep
Brief Summary of Employment: Prior to my appointment I was an ER Trauma nurse. I spent a lot of time advocating for patients in the worst situations of their lives. I have used these skills and my healthcare knowledge to the house.
Educational Background (List Format): ADN (associates degree in nursing), BSN (bachelor of science in nursing), MSN (master of science in nursing)

Name at least two specific policies you would support to help small businesses thrive and grow in Arizona.

  • Nicolas Gonzales: Two policies that I support to help small businesses thrive and grow in Arizona are supporting programs that provide training and networking opportunities to early stage entrepreneurs and making sure that there are attainable housing prices so small business owners and their employees can afford to live in the community.
  • Brandy Reese: All businesses in Arizona rely on sustainability and reliability. I support policies that ensure our infrastructure provides sustainable and reliable energy, and protects and preserves natural resources to secure long-term community resiliency. I also support transportation solutions to improve the movement of people and goods, foster job creation, connect employees to job centers, and enhance economic development. For example, the widening of the I-10.
  • Juile Willoughby: I support any legislation that includes protecting policies currently in place that are already helping small businesses thrive. Thriving is a relative term in this rough economy, and in down times like this, with inflation and interest rates as high as they are, sometimes the best you can hope for is that you are thriving relative to other states. I will also continue to support legislation that makes Arizona attractive to companies like Intel, TSMC and other semiconductor firms as they are spending 10s of billions of dollars here as opposed to elsewhere. We have built a state economy that is based on low tax rates, a low regulatory burden, and an increasingly highly educated workforce.

What is your position on taxation and regulation of businesses in Arizona, and how would you propose to strike a balance between supporting businesses and protecting consumers?

  • Nicholas Gonzales: Arizona should provide tax incentives for first-time business owners and small business owners. Taxes should be predictable.
  • Brandy Reese:Obviously, some taxes and regulations are needed, to protect the health and safety of employees and consumers. We must ensure taxes and regulations are predictable, fair, and reasonable and do not burden the business owner unreasonably. This helps to strike the necessary balance of generating funding for essential services while protecting against overburdening the taxpayer - this way their disposable income is free to start businesses and contribute to the economy via sales tax.
  • Juile Willoughby: Taxation should be as low as possible, as should regulation. It can be difficult to describe in very specific terms how to balance two interests like protecting consumers and supporting businesses. We can argue that policy that are purposed for regulations is not a way to “support businesses.” The purpose of regulation is to protect consumers and to a lesser degree, small businesses and everyone else involved in the overall economy. It makes sense to have regulations that protect the lives and well-being of the consumers, but regulations are often taxes themselves, because they add delays, slow production, increase costs, or make products less user friendly. Thanks to regulations, you have to put a disclaimer on ads for medicine that tell people not to use the medicine if they are allergic to the ingredients in that medicine. That is time and money spent on a portion of the ad that doesn't seriously protect consumers while it burdens the person selling the product. So any necessary regulations should be the minimum required to protect the lives and well-being of the consumers, but not more.

How would you propose addressing workforce development and training to ensure Arizona has a skilled workforce to support businesses?

  • Nicohlas Gonzales: I would work with the local Chambers to highlight and grow existing workforce readiness training programs. I believe that career and technical education is important to workforce development. A more skilled workforce will lead to more economic growth.
  • Brandy Reese: Support Arizona’s goal, Achieve 60 AZ, that by 2030, 60% of Arizona adults will hold a postsecondary credential or degree, enhancing Arizona’s ability to attract and retain successful businesses and high-paying jobs. Education has always been a priority in my family–it was my pathway out of poverty so I know from personal experience that properly funded and quality schools create well-educated students who are equipped for 21st century jobs. A strong public education system is not just an education issue, it's an economic driver for our community and state. It is important we maintain a wide variety of post-High School options for students whether they are college-bound, going to trade school or apprenticeships, or directly to the workforce. Career and technical education is a crucial piece of ensuring we have a well-trained workforce who are able to afford to live in our communities and participate in our economy.
  • Juile Willoughby: Honestly, I would like to lean back into the expertise of the Chambers of Commerce, and other groups that function as go-betweens government and business, because they can likely tell me in more accurate fashion what the workforce needs are for their specific part of the state. Do they need more skilled tradesmen? Trained engineers with degrees? How can I help overcome obstacles, are there governmental hurdles in the way or can I get something else out of the way in order for things to happen as they should or need to.

What plans or policies would you propose or support to attract new businesses to the state, and how would you encourage them to invest in local communities?

  • Nicolas Gonzales: I would promote incentives for new businesses to invest in their immediate communities and facilitate communication and collaboration between business owners and the community. I will support innovation and economic development where appropriate.
  • Brandy Reese: I will support clean energy policies that are scientifically-supported and feasible which will bolster economic growth through a combination of existing and innovative technologies. Creating an environment that supports innovation expands opportunities for researchers, investors, entrepreneurs, and corporations. I will support creative solutions to increase the availability of affordable workforce housing and first-time homeownership.
  • Juile Willoughby: Arizona remains a national leader in attracting new businesses, so the simplest answer is to keep doing what is working. It is also important that we not allow what is working to be shut down or reversed. We need to be reminding people of our great business climate as well as our great overall climate. No natural disasters, only the occasional major storm, and sunshine nearly every day of the year. One final area I want to mention is infrastructure, because there is an appropriate role for the state in ensuring we keep up on things like roads and highways, water and power, etc. We won't attract quality growth unless we can demonstrate that our physical infrastructure can accommodate additional growth.

What role, if any, do you see for local chambers of commerce in promoting economic growth and development in Arizona, and how would you interact with the Chamber if you were elected?

  • Nicolas Gonzales: I see local chambers of commerce in Arizona as the advocates of the business community. Local businesses are the heart of our community. By bringing the business community together, the Chamber is able to identify and address any and all challenges the business community is facing.
  • Brandy Reese: Composed of local business and community leaders, our local chambers of commerce are actively involved and invested in the community and are intrinsically aware of the challenges and opportunities they experience. Our community is made richer and more diverse by local businesses, and the chambers of commerce give them a voice and a seat at the table.
  • Juile Willoughby: The best local chambers do a great job of facilitating an exchange of ideas and information between their members and government officials. As a legislator, I have a certain amount of knowledge, but when it comes to addressing small business issues in a specific city, someone who actually operates a small business in that city would likely possess superior knowledge. Magnify that by 100 or 200 or 300 times, and you can see how a Chamber of Commerce that processes and distributes the collective knowledge of all of its members would be providing some outstanding expertise on issues related to businesses in that particular city. That's why I try to regularly interact with the Chamber, and reach out when I have Gilbert specific questions.

Arizona has two programs, Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) and Arizona Christian School Tax Credit (ACSTO), that provide public funding to families to educate their children at private or charter schools. There has been a move to cut one or both of these programs to reduce current and future budget shortfalls. What is your position on the proposal to cut or eliminate funding for either of these programs and why?

  • Nicolas Gonzales: My goal is to bring collaboration and work on both sides of the aisle to negotiate practical resources for Arizona public schools. I believe that by adding accountability measures to voucher spending we can balance the budget.
  • Brandy Reese: I support the Arizona Constitution which requires the state legislature to provide a general and uniform public school system that is extraordinarily important for an educated citizenry. I believe in investing in our neighborhood public schools which are the backbone of our communities, require certified teachers and have transparency and accountability. The current ESA model desperately needs the basic accountability standards.
  • Julie Willoughby: I would oppose efforts to cut or end either of these programs. We now have decades worth of data that demonstrates that school choice has provided hundreds of thousands of Arizona kids with great educations. In some cases, the competition they created has even provided adequate incentive to get district schools to raise their own game, benefiting even more students. With all of the improvements continuously sought by Arizona schools and parents, it makes no sense to reduce or shut down so many of our most successful schools.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

  • Nicolas Gonzales: Thank you for the opportunity to earn your endorsement.
  • Julie Willoughby: I am very happy to represent this district. I am very proud of my cities and I hope to continue to work with the cities, the chambers, and make everyone proud to be a member of our community.
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