Arizona Corporation Commission Democrats debate

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We’ll hear from three Democrats who are seeking a seat on the Arizona Corporation Commission, the body that regulates utility rates and has many other vital functions. Ted Simons moderates this clean election sponsored debate with former commissioners Sandra Kennedy and William “Bill” Mundell and Kiana Maria Sears, a community advocate and a nonprofit community leader.

SIMONS: GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO THE SPECIAL ELECTION 2018 EDITION OF "ARIZONA HORIZON." I'M TED SIMONS. TONIGHT'S SHOW IS A DEBATE SPONSORED BY THE ARIZONA CLEAN ELECTIONS COMMISSION. WE'LL HEAR FROM THE THREE DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES RUNING FOR THE ARIZONA CORPORATION COMMISSION. AS WITH ALL OF ARIZONA HORIZON’S DEBATES IT’S AN OPEN EXCHAGE OF IDEAS AND OPPORTUNITY FOR GIVE AND TAKE BETWEEN CANDIDITES RUNNING FOR AN IMPORTANT STATE OFFICE. AS SUCH INTERJECTIONS AND EVEN INTERUPTIONS ARE ALLOWED PROVIDED THAT ALL SIDES GET A FAIR SHAKE AND WE WILL DO OUR BEST TO SEE THAT THAT HAPPENS. THE ARIZONA CORPORATIONS COMMISSION IS BEST KNOWN FOR REGULATING UTILIES INCLUDING RATE SETTING THE COMMISSION HAS OTHER REGULATORY OBLIGATIOINS AND IT’S MEMBERS SERVE IN EXECUTIVE, JUDICIAL AND LEGISLATIVE CAPACITIES. JOINING NOW FOR TONIGHT'S DEBATE: KIANA MARIA SEARS, COMMUNITY ADVOCATE AND NON-PROFIT EXECUTIVE; SANDRA KENNEDY, A FORMER CORPORATION COMMISSIONER AND STATE LAWMAKER; AND BILL MUNDELL, WHO ALSO SERVED ON THE CORPORATION COMMISSION AND IN THE STATE LEGISLATOR. EACH CANDIDATE WILL GET A ONE MINUTE OPENING STATEMENT AND THE ORDER DETERMINED BY RANDOM SELECTION. CLOSING STATEMENTS GIVEN IN REVERSE ORDER AT THE END OF THE DEBATE. WE BEGIN WITH KIANA MARIA SEARS.

SEARS: GOOD EVENING I AM KIANA MARIA SEARS A CLEAN ELECTION CANDIDATE FOR THE ARIZONA CORPORATION COMMISSION. I BELIEVE IN CLEAN POLOCIES, CLEAN ENERGY, CLEAN AND SAFE CITIES FOR ALL PEOPLE IN ARIZONA. ARIZONA HAS PROVIDED ME WITH SO MUCH, I CAME HERE AND I AM A SUNDEVIL AND I AM ACTIVE IN THE COMMUNITY. THE REASON WHY I STEPPED UP IN THIS MOST CHALLENGING ROLE IS BECAUSE I FORMALLY WORKED AT THE CORPORATION COMMISSION, I AM SO TIRED OF SEEING CITIZENS, AND THE RATE PAYERS OF ARIZONA, NOT BEING REPRESENTED OR PROTECTED BY OUR COMMISSIONERS. SO I DECIDED TO STEP UP AND PUT MY HARD WORK AND DEDICATION TO WORKING FOR US THE RATE PAYERS OF ARIZONA. I AM NOT A LIFE LONG POLOTICIAN. I HAVE TAKEN SOME TIME TO BECOME A PROFESSIONAL TO SERVE YOU, ARIZONA RATE PAYERS.

SIMONS: ALRIGHT THANK YOU VERY MUCH. AND FOR OUR NEXT OPENING STATE MENT WE TURN TO SANDRA KENNEDY.

KENNEDY: GOOD EVENING AND THANK YOU TED. THANK TO THE CLEAN ELECTIONS COMMISSION AND CHANNEL 8 FOR HAVING US HERE TONIGHT. MY NAME IS SANDRA KENNEDY AND I AM RUNNING FOR THE ARIZONA CORPORATION COMMISSION. DURING MY TEN YEARS AT THE COMMISSION, I SAW CORUPTION. I HAVE DUG THE CORPORATION COMMISSION THE CORRUPTION COMMISSION. AND IT IS TIME TO CHANGE. IT IS TIME TO CLEAN UP THE COMMISSION. I AM READY TO ROLE UP MY SLEEVES, DIG IN AND RETURN SOME INTEGRADY TO THE COMMISSION. I OOK FORWARD TO TONIGHTS DEBATE, HEALTH AND VERY FRUGAL DEBATE. THANK YOU SO MUCH.

SIMONS: ALRIGHT, THANK YOU. AND FOR OUR FINAL OPENING STATEMENT WE HAVE BILL MUNDELL.

MUNDELL: GOODEVENING TED AND THANK YOU FOR HAVING US. I HAVE HAD THE HONOR AND PRIVLEDGE TO SERVE IN ALL FOUR BRANCHES OF ARIZONA’S GOVERNMENT. I GOT MY START FIGHTING CORUPTION AS A YOUNG LAWYER AND THEN AS A RESULT OF THAT WAS APPOINT PRESIDING JUDGE WHEN I WAS 27. I THEN WENT ON TO THE LEGISLATURE WHERE I WAS CHAIRMEN OF THE ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE AND SPONSORED NUMEROUS PIECES OF LEGISLATION PROTECTOING ARIZONA’S ENVIRONMENT. I THEN SERVED FOR NINE IN A HALF YEARS AS A COMMISSIONER AT THE CORPORATION COMMISSION AND I CO-AUTHOR THE CURRENT RENEWABLE ENERGY STANDARD. I WANT TO RETURN TO THE COMMISSION SO ARIZONA CAN BECOME THE SOLAR CAPITAL OF THE WORLD. I WANT TO RETURN TO THE COMMISSION SO WE CAN STOP UNJUST AND UNJUSTIFIED RATE INCREASES. I WANT TO RETURN TO THE COMMISSION SO WE CAN HAVE CLEAN AIR, CLEAN WATER, AND A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT. THANK YOU VERY MUCH I LOOK FORWARD TOTHIS EVENING.

SIMONS: ALRIGHT GOOD TO HAVE YOU ALL HERE. LET'S GET THINGS STARTED HERE, WE'LL START WITH THE ROLE OF THE CORPORATION COMMISSION. WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE COMMISSION'S ROLE?

SEARS: THE COMMISSION'S ROLE IS TO SERVE AS THE RATE PAYERS, AND THAT'S WHY I'M HERE BECAUSE I BELIEVE PUBLIC SERVICE IS EVERYTHING. MY ENTIRE CAREER HAS BEEN PUBLIC SERVICE, SO THE ROLE AS THE FOURTH BRANCH OF THE GOVERNMENT IS TO, ONE, WHEN IT COMES TO UTILITIES MAKE SURE THAT CITIZENS ARE PROTECTED. WHEN IT COMES TO WATER, THAT THERE'S AN ABUNDANCE OF CLEAN WATER. WHEN IT COMES TO RENEWABLE AND SOLAR AND THINGS THAT HELP US WITH CLEAN AIR AND CLEAN ENERGY, THAT WE'RE FORWARD THINKING, AND TO MAKE THE DREAMS COME TRUE OF ALL ARIZONANS, WHEN IT COMES TO DOING THEIR LLC'S AND BEING NON-PROFITS. SO THE CORPORATION COMMISSION'S ROLE IS TO HELP US GO FORWARD AND BE A PROSPEROUS ARIZONA.

SIMONS: SANDRA, AS FAR AS THE CORPORATION COMMISSIONS ROLE AND AGAIN IN PARTWHO DOES THE CORPORATION COMMISSION REPRESENT?

KENNEDY: THE COMMISSION WHEN IT WAS FORMED BACK IN TERRITORIAL DAYS WAS CALLED THE PIPELINE AND SAFETY COMMISSION, BETTER KNOWN AS, TODAY THE CORPORATION COMMISSION. IT WAS FORMED TO PROTECT THE CONSUMERS, NOT THE MONOPOLIES, BUT THE CONSUMERS, AND THE -- THE CORPORATION COMMISSION HAS 12 TO 15 FUNCTIONS. WHETHER WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE UTILITIES DIVISION, THE CORPORATIONS DIVISION, IT EVEN HAS A MINI SECURITIES DIVISION, AND IT IS THE ROLE OF THE COMMISSION TO BASICALLY PROTECT CONSUMERS.

SIMONS: ROLE OF THE COMMISSION TO PROTECT CONSUMERS? OR IS THERE -- DO YOU HAVE TO KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR THE MONOPOLIES AND UTILITIES AS WELL.

MUNDELL: WELL AS SANDRA SAID THE COMMISSION WAS ESTABLISHED IN TERRITORIAL DAYS TO PROTECT OVERREACHING BY MONOPOLIES. WE ARE TALKING ABOUT STATE-CREATED MONOPOLIES. YOU DON'T HAVE A CHOICE. YOU HAVE TO GET YOUR WATER AND ELECTRICITY FROM THESE MONOPOLIES. SO IT'S ESTABLISHED TO PREVENT OVERREACHING BY THESE POWERFUL POLITICAL MONOPOLIES.

SIMONS: REPRESENTS?

MUNDELL: THE CONSUMERS.

SIMONS: YOU AGREE WITH THAT KIANA?

SEARS: ABSOLUTELY.

SIMONS: OKAY. YOU MENTIONED YOU THINK THE CORPORATION COMMISSION IS CORRUPT.

KENNEDY: OH, ABSOLUTELY. AND WE HAVE SEEN IT LAST YEAR IN MAY, WHEN THERE WERE INDICTMENTS, THE FORMER COMMISSIONER, THE COMMISSIONER'S WIFE, A LOBBYIST AND A UTILITY OWNER, AND IT'S NOT GOOD. I SAW IT WHEN I WAS TA THE COMMISSION AND THESE LAST FIVE AND A HALF YEARS CORRUPTION HAS JUST DUG IN.

SIMONS: YOU SAID YOU SAW IT WHEN YOU WERE THERE THE LAST FIVE AND A HALF YEARS. EXAMPLES. WHAT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT HERE?

KENNEDY: WELL, EXAMPLE, IF YOU LOOK AT THE APS RATE INCREASE WHEN IN 2011, I BELIEVE IT WAS, THERE WAS NO RATE INCREASE FOR APS, AND AS SOON AS MR. PIERSON BECAME THE CHAIR, THEN THAT WAS REOPENED, AND APS GOT EVERYTHING THEY WANTED. WHY? THE CASE HAD ALREADY BEEN CLOSED, DOCKETED, AND THEY DIDN'T GET A RATE INCREASE.

SIMONS: KIANA, WAS THAT AN EXAMPLE OF CORRUPTION IN YOUR MIND?

SEARS: ABSOLUTELY. THAT'S WHY I'M RUNNING, TO PROTECT US THE ARIZONA RATE PAYERS. I DECIDED TO BE THAT ADVOCATE, TO STAND UP, LET MY VOICE BE HEARD, AND THE VOICES OF ALL ARIZONANS WHEN IT COMES TO RATES. BECAUSE INORDER FOR US TO FLOUISH IN ARIZONA, PEOPLE HAVE TO BE ABLE TO PAY THEIR UTILITY BILLS, ESPECIALLY AUGUST AND SEPTEMBER WHEN ALL STUDENTS IN OUR STATE START SCHOOL.

MUNDELL: KIANA, SO YOU BELIEVE THAT APS HAS CORRUPTED THE COMMISSION.

SEARS: YES, I DO.

MUNDELL: I'M GLAD TO HEAR THAT, BECAUSE WE HAVE BEEN OUT ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL QUITE A BIT, AND UNLESS YOU ASK ABOUT APS, YOU AVOID THAT QUESTION.

SEARS: I HAVE NEVER AVOIDED THE QUESTION.

MUNDELL: WELL, YOU HAVE.

SEARS: WHAT I HAVE DONE EVERY SINGLE TIME IS TO BE COURAGEOUS AND STANDING UP AND SAY OUR COMMISSIONERS ARE RESPONSIBLE TO PROTECT ALL RATE PAYERS. IT'S NOT ABOUT JUST ONE OF THE MONOPOLIES HERE IN ARIZONA OR ONE UTILITY COMPANY. ALL UTILITY COMPANIES, AS A COMMISSIONER I'M RESPONSIBLE FOR HOLDING ALL UTILITY COMPANIES RESPONSIBLE TO PROTECTING THE RATE PAYERS AND SERVING US, AND MAKING SURE WE KEEP RATES LOWER FOR ALL ARIZONANS.

SIMONS: BILL, OBVIOUSLY -- I BELIEVE I'M HEARING FROM YOU, THAT YOU THINK THE CORPORATION COMMISSION IS CORRUPT AND IF SO, WHY?

MUNDELL: WELL, I MEAN WE HAVE A PRIME EXAMPLE RIGHT NOW, TED. THERE IS A FEDERAL TRIAL GOING ON IN THE U.S. DISTRICT COURT FOR CORRUPTION AS WAS MENTIONED. THE FORMER CHAIR WAS INDICTED ALONG WITH HIS WIFE, A MAJOR UTILITY AND A POWERFUL LOBBYIST. THAT'S A CONCRETE EXAMPLE. NOW WHETHER OR NOT YOU CAN PROVE OTHER CASES OF BRIBERY ARE VERY DIFFICULT. AS I SAID, I'M GLAD I HEARD HER SAY THAT SHE BELIEVES THAT APS HAS CORRUPTED THE COMMISSION, BECAUSE THEY HAVE SPENT MILLIONS OF DOLLARS GETTING CANDIDATES ELECTED. THEY SPENT $3 MILLION DOLLARS AGAINST SANDER IN 2014. AT LEAST $4 MILLION AGAINST ME AND TOM IN 2016. WHY? BECAUSE WE HAD A HISTORY OF STANDING UP TO THEM. SO WHETHER IT'S INDIRECT OR DIRECT CORRUPTION OR UNDUE INFLUENCE, THAT'S IS WHAT IS GOING ON.

KENNEDY: I CALL IT BUYING THEIR COMMISSIONERS. THE PEOPLE WHO REGULATE THEM.

SIMONS: SO YOU ARE SAYING THEY ARE IN THEIR POCKET.

KENNEDY: AND THEIR BACK POCKET.

SIMONS: OKAY. SO WITH THAT LETS GO TO A BASIC QUESTION HERE, IS IT OKAY FOR A UTILITY TO DONATE FOR OR AGAINST A CANDIDATE RUNNING FOR THE CORPORATION COMMISSION?

KENNEDY: I THINK IN PAST YEARS WE HAVE SEEN THAT UTILITIES HAVE STAYED OUT OF THE ELECTION PROCESS. WITH THE NEW EXECUTIVE OFFICERS AT APS, THEY FIND IT QUITE DIFFERENTLY, AND THEY PARTICIPATE NOT JUST IN THE CORPORATION COMMISSION RACE, BUT IN OTHER RACES ALSO. GOVERNOR'S RACE, LEGISLATIVE RACES --

SIMONS: DO THEY HAVE A RIGHT TO DO THAT?

KENNEDY: I THINK IN SOME POINT -- IF YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE A POINT, MAYBE IN LEGISLATIVE RACES, BUT NOT IN THE VERY RACE THAT INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE GOING TO REGULATE THEM AND SET JUDGMENTS AGAINST THEM, THEY SHOULD NOT.

SIMONS: BILL?

MUNDELL: FOR 100 YEARS, APS AND PINNACLE WEST DID NOT GET INVOLVED IN COMMISSION RACES. THEY KNEW IT WAS INAPPROPRIATE AND UNSEAMLY. THAT ALL CHANGED AS I INDICATED IN 20 -- 2014. AND I'M NOT TALKING ABOUT THE 6,000 HARD-WORKING EMPLOYEES THAT KEEP THE LIGHTS AND AIR CONDITIONING ON. I'M TALKING ABOUT THE TOP ECHELON THAT HAS NOT ONLY CORRUPTED OUR DEMOCRACY IN ARIZONA, BUT THEY HAVE CORRUPTED THE COMMISSION.

SIMONS: THEY ARE SAYING THEY HAVE A FREE SPEECH RIGHT, THEY CAN DONATE WHEREVER THEY CHOOSE.

MUNDELL: WELL THAT’S NOT TRUE. UNDER CITIZEN UNITED THEY LIFTED THE CAPS BUT THERE SHOULD BE DISCLOSURE. WE'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT WAL-MART, OR SAFEWAY OR ALBURTSON'S. WE WERE TALKING ABOUT A MONOPOLY.

SIMONS: DO YOU BELIEVE A UTILITY SHOULD DONATE FUNDS TO THE CAMPAIGN OF A REGULATOR THAT WILL REGULATE THAT UTILITY?

SEARS: I BELIEVE THE BIGGEST PROBLEM HAS BEEN THE LACK OF TRANSRANSY, AND LACK OF DISCLOSURE. MONEY THAT WE TALK ABOUT AS DARK MONEY AND AS SECRET DEALINGS. THAT IS THE PROBLEM. THAT'S WHY I BELIEVE IN HONESTY, TRANSPARENCY, AND THAT EVERY CITIZEN HAS THE RIGHT TO KNOW WHAT IS HAPPENING, AND THE ORIGINAL SOURCE OF ALL MONEY THAT IS HAPPENING. BECAUSE WHEN WE LOOK AT WHAT IS HAPPENING, IT'S DONE BECAUSE THERE'S SO MUCH CONSPIRING.

SIMONS: DO YOU BELIVE THIS IS A FREE SPEECH ISSUE?

SEARS: I DO NOT. BELIVE IT IS A FREE SPEECH ISSUE. I BELIEVE THE ISSUE IS THAT THERE IS NOT TRANSPARENCY AND THERE SHOULD BE TRANSPARENCY WHEN ANY MONEY IS DONATED.

KENNEDY: I CALL IT A LACK OF INTEGRITY.

SIMONS: WELL, I WANT TO GET BACK TO THIS A LITTLE BIT LATER, BUT WE HAVE A COUPLE OF IDEAS REGARDING RENEWABLE ENERGY. I WANT TO KNOW IF YOU SUPPORT THE IDEA OF 50% OF ENERGY BY RENEWABLES, OKAY? BY THE YEAR 2030? AND THAT DOES NOT INCLUDE NUCLEAR ENERGY.

KENNEDY: I DO SUPPORT IT. I THINK IT'S A GREAT IDEA. 10,000-PLUS JOBS WILL COME TO ARIZONA ONCE THIS INITIATIVE PASSES. ONE OF THE GREAT THINGS ABOUT RUNNING THE CYCLE IS I WANT TO WIN SO I CAN BE AT THE COMMISSION WHEN IT'S TIME TO IMPLEMENT THIS INITIATIVE, OR THE PASSING OF THE INITIATIVE.

SIMONS: YOU KNOW CRITICS SAY IF IT IS IMPLEMENTED, THE AVERAGE CONSUMER BILL WILL DOUBLE. ARE YOU BUYING THAT?

KENNEDY: I DO NOT BUY IT AT ALL?

SIMONS: WHY NOT?

KENNEDY: BECAUSE THEY HAVE PROVEN THE FACT THAT $4.1 BILLION WILL BE SAVED WITH THIS INITIATIVE. CUSTOMERS WHO WILL BENEFIT, ESPECIALLY ROOF TOP SOLAR CUSTOMERS WILL BENEFIT TREMENDOUSLY.

SIMONS: BILL, THE IDEA OF 50% OF ENERGY BY WAY OF RENEWABLE BY 2030. AGAIN, THE ARGUMENT IS, GREAT IDEA, BUT ONCE THE SUN GOES DOWN, YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE TO FIND A WAY TO MAKE UP THAT CAPACITY, AND IF THIS GOES THROUGH, PALA VERDE MIGHT GO AWAY, BECAUSE THEY CAN'T SELL IT ANYWHERE. ARE YOU BUYING IT?

MUNDELL: NO. THE STUDY WAS AN ASU STUDY PAID FOR MY APS. SO YOU HAVE TO LOOK AT WHO PAID FOR THE STUDY. MIT DID A STUDY AND SAID THERE IS NO PROBLEM. YOU CAN HAVE A PALAVERTY ALONG WITH SOLAR AND WIND THERE IS NOT AN ISSUE THERE. YOU HAVE TO HAVE OBJECTIVE STUDIES. SO I SUPPORT IT TREMENDOUSLY. I WISH WE WEREN'T GOING TO AMEND THE CONSTITUTION, BUT I THINK IT'S THE ONLY WAY TO GET THERE. THE PEOPLE OF ARIZONA SHOULD DECIDE, NOT APS AND PINNACLE WEST.

SIMONS: SHOULD THE PEOPLE OF ARIZONA DECIDE SOMETHING LIKE THIS THAT CAN’T BE MODIFIED OR VCANT BE EASILY MODIFIED. WHEN THE VOTERS VOTE ON IT, IT’S LOCKED IN STONE AND UNTIL IT CHANGED BY THE VOTERS. YOU LIKE THAT IDEA?

SEARS: THIS ISSUE IS DEEPLY PERSONAL TO ME BECAUSE I BELIEVE IN CLEAN ENERGY. I BELIEVE IN CLEAN AIR. I HAVE A DAUGHTER WHO IS AN ASTHMA SUFFERER, SO THAT'S ANOTHER REASON WHY I'M HERE AT THE TABLE. WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT THE VOICE OF ARIZONA, I WISH THE CONVERSATION WAS DIFFERENT. I WISH THAT OUR COMMISSIONERS WOULD ENACT AND WOULD HAVE INTERACTED -- ENACTED SUCH INITIATIVE, OR ACTUALLY WRITTEN NOT IN POLICY, SO WE WERE NOT UNDOING THE ARIZONA CONSTITUTION, BECAUSE OUR COMMISSIONERS HAVE HAD THE POWER TO DO SO, AND HAVE NOT. THAT'S WHY NOW AS AN INCUMBENT ON ARIZONANS TO PUSH FOR WHERE WE NEED TO GO BEING FORWARD THINKING.

SIMONS: FOR CRITICS WHO WOULD SAYTO DESTABLEIZE ARIZONA’S ENERGY PROFILE YOU SAY?

MUNDELL: I SAY, YET AGAIN YOU HAVE TO LOOK AT WHO’S SAYING THAT AND WHO’S PAYING FOR THE STUDIES. AND LOOK AT AS I INDICATED IN THE MIT STUDY AND LOOK AT FRANCE WHO HAS 70 OR 80 PERCENT OF NUCLEAR POWER AND IT HASN’T HAD A PROBLEM ON THE GRID. THAT’S WHAT THEY’RE CONCERN ABOUT. AND YOU ELUDED TO IT TED, BATTERY STORAGE. YOU NOW HAVE BATTERY STORAGE AND EVERYDAY THE PRICE OF BATTERIES ARE COMING DOWN. OBVIOUSLY THE PROBLEM WITH SOLAR IS WHEN THE SUN GOES DOWN. AND SO NOW YOU HAVE THESE BATTERIES IN TESLA CARS AT HOME. WE ARE IN A BRAVE NEW WORLD. OUR KIDS AND GRANDKIDS ARE GOING TO LOOK BACK AT HOW WE GENERATE ELECTRICITY GIGANTIC FOSSIL FUEL PLANTS, 200 MILES OF TRANSMISSION LINES BACK INTO THE CITY AND SAY THAT’S HOW YOU ALL GENERATED ELECTRICITY. WE ARE ON THE CUSP OF A BRAVE NEW WORLD OF ELECTRICITY.

SIMONS: LET'S LOOK AT CALIFORNIA. THEY HAVE TO SELL EXCESS NUCLEAR POWER, BECAUSE IT'S OUT THERE. THEY CAN'T USE IT BECAUSE OF THE SOLAR MANDATE OVER THERE. CRITICS AGAIN SAY IF WE PASS THIS INITIATIVE. THAT WILL HAPPEN HERE?

KENNEDY: ABSOLUTELY NOT. I BELIEVE THAT IS FALSE. WE WILL CONTINUE -- WE WILL CONTINUE WITH THE USE OF PALA VERDE. I WANTED TO DOUBLE BACK BECAUSE I DIDN'T HEAR MISS SEARS SAY WHETHER OR NOT SHE SUPPORTED THE INITIATIVE AND THAT WAS EITHER – I WASN’T HEARING A YES OR A NO.

SEARS: THANK YOU FOR THE OPPORTUNITY. I DO SUPPORT THE INITIATIVE, BUT I DID -- I ALWAYS WANT TO SPEAK MY MIND ABOUT THE POWER THAT THE COMMISSIONERS HAVE AND WHAT HASN'T BEEN DONE IN THE PAST 15 YEARS AT THE COMMISSION TO PROTECT US, THE RATE PAYERS OF ARIZONA, SO AS A PERSON WHO WORKED AT THE CORPORATION COMMISSION, I HAVE WATCHED AS MISS KENNEDY AND MR. MONDEL WERE THERE, AND THE WORK THAT WAS DONE, AND THE COMMISSIONERS THERE ARE PUSHING FORWARD AND BEING COURAGEOUS ENOUGH TO SAY WE SHOULD AND COULD HAVE BEEN DOING BETTER FOR ARIZONA IS WHY I ENTERED THE RACE.

MUNDELL: I HAVE BEEN THERE FOR TEN YEARS. YOU WERE THERE FOR LIKE SIX MONTHS WHILE I WAS THERE. AND I VOTED NO ON THE LAST RATE INCREASE. BUT ALSO WHEN YOU WERE A STAFF MEMBER, YOU RECOMMENDED WATER RATE INCREASES. WE LOOKED AT YOUR RECORD, SO LET'S NOT MAKE IT SOUND LIKE YOU NEVER ADVOCATED FOR A RATE INCREASE WHEN YOU WERE A STAFF PERSON THERE, BUT I VOTED NO IN THE LAST APS RATE CASE.

KENNEDY: AND SO DID I. AND ON HER WEBSITE SHE STATES THAT SHE SUPPORTS THE TOBIN PLATFORM.

SIMONS: WELL, I WANT TO GET TO THAT. BECAUSE THAT'S 80% CLEAN ENERGY BY 2050. DO YOU SUPPORT THAT?

SEARS: I DO NOT.

MUNDELL: IT'S ON YOUR WEBSITE.

KENNEDY: IT'S ON YOUR WEBSITE.

SEARS: AND AS WE TALK ABOUT CLEAN ENERGY AND GOING FORWARD IN THE FUTURE, I AM A PRINCIPLED PERSON, HONESTY AND INTEGRITY IS WHY I SIT HERE. AND THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT VOTING RECORDS. AS A STAFFERER WHO CONSTANTLY MADE RECOMMENDATIONS, IT IS THE COMMISSIONERS THAT HAVE VOTED AGAINST THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE. SO NOW AS A STAFFER, I HEAR HIM SAYING I AM VOTING AGAINST THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE, WHENEVER TIME WE TALKED HE TALKS ABOUT THE POWER OF THE COMMISSIONER.

SIMONS: YES OR NO, NUCLEAR ENERGY BELONGS IN ARIZONA'S PROFILE?

SEARS: ABSOLUTELY NOT.

SIMONS: WHAT DO YOU THINK, BILL?

MUNDELL: LETS GO LONG-TERM VERSES SHORT-TERM. SHORT-TERM IT HAS A PLACE IN OUR ENERGY MIX, BUT THE GOAL LONG-TERM IS TO GET OFF OF NUCLEAR POWER AND GET TO RENEWABLE ENERGY, AND OTHER STATES HAVE DONE IT. NEW YORK HAS DONE IT. CALIFORNIA HAS 50%. WE'RE BEHIND OREGON AND IOWA WHEN IT COMES TO ROOF TOP SOLAR. AND I ALWAYS PROTECTED CONSUMERS WHEN I WAS COMMISSIONER, AND I VOTED NO ON A NUMBER OF RATE CASES. INCLUDING THE LAST APS RATE CASE.

SIMONS: REAL QUICKLY I WANT TO GET TO SANDRA ON THIS. THE TOBIN PLANT INCLUDES NUCLEAR ENERGY INCLUDING THE 80% BY 2050.

MUNDELL: I DO THINK ITS ALL OR NOTHING. THE ONE THING THATI DO LIKE IN THE TOGIN PLANT IS THE STORAGE. IT REQUIRES 3000 MEGAWATTS OF STORAGE THAT PART OF IT BY 2030. SO AGAIN I SUPPORT THAT THE INITIATIVE. THE TOBIN PLANT IS NOT A CLEAN ENERGY PLAN BECAUSE IT HAS PALA VERDE IN IT.

SIMONS: WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT USING NUCLEAR POWER? NOT RENEWABLE BUT CLEAN.

KENNEDY: I AGREE WITH BILL. I REALLY DO. AND I LOOK AT STATES SURROUNDING US, WHETHER IT'S CALIFORNIA, NEVADA, COLORADO, THEY ARE DOING 50% -- OR THEY WILL BE GETTING TO 50%. ARIZONA IS LOSING OUT. THERE ARE THIRD-PARTY INVESTORS WHO WANT TO COME INTO ARIZONA. RENEWABLE ENERGY SHOULD BE OUR FUTURE, NOT LOOKING AT IT DOWN THE ROAD TO 2050


SIMONS: BUT, AGAIN, THE CRITICS, UTILITIES THEY WILL SAY YOU NEED THAT STABLE ENERGY BACK UP THERE FOR WHEN THE SUN GOES DOWN, AND THAT MAY NOT BE THERE IF THIS INITIATIVE GOES THROUGH, THE TOBIN PLANT KEEPS PALA VERDE UP AND OPERATIONAL.

KENNEDY: THE NUCLEAR PLANT WILL CONTINUE TO BE IN THE MIX.

SIMONS: DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT? IT WILL STAY IN THE MIX?

SEARS: I BELIEVE IT WILL. BUT CLEAN ENERGY AND WHY I PROMOTE IT SO STRONGLY IS BECAUSE OF THE OTHER HEALTH EFFECTS, AND I'M AN ADVOCATE FOR HAVING BETTER HEALTH FOR ALL REDIDENCE AND RATE PAYERS OF ARIZONA.

SIMONS: BILL, YOU SAY YOU ARE GOING TO RESTORE INTEGRITY TO THE COMMISSION. HOW CAN YOU RESTORE INTEGRITY TO THE COMMISSION.

MUNDELL: THE FIRST THING WE CAN DO IS PASS A REAL CODE OF ETHICS. THEY PASSED ONE THIS YEAR, AND IT WAS A JOKE. THERE WERE SO MANY LOOPHOLES IN IT, SO THE FIRST THING WE DO IS PASS A CODE OF ETHICS, SIMILAR TO THE JUDICIAL CODE OF ETHICS. NO LUNCHES. NO MEALS. NO MONEY FROM PEOPLE THAT APPEAR. RIGHT NOW AS LONG AS A MATTER IS NOT PENDING, THE UTILITIES CAN BUY COMMISSIONERS FOOD AND GIFTS AND OTHER THINGS, SO I CAN GO OUT ON A THURSDAY NIGHT, HAVE A GREAT STEAK DINNER, AND THEN THE UTILITY FILES THEIR APPLICATION THE NEXT DAY, THAT'S WHEN THE MATTER IS PENDING. THERE ARE SO MANY LOOPHOLES, SO WE NEED TO PASS A STRONG CODE OF ETHICS LIKE JUDGES HAVE.

SIMONS: YOUR WEBSITE SAYS THE SAME THING, RESTORING INTEGRITY TO A COMMISSION. ONE PERSON HOW ARE YOU GOING TO DO IT?

KENNEDY: I'M IN AGREEMENT WITH BILL. AND ONE OF THE THINGS WE NEED TO ADD IS WE NEED TO SAY THAT STAFF CANNOT LEAVE THE COMMISSION AND GO AND WORK FOR A MONOPOLY, THERE SHOULD BE A TIME PERIOD, WAITING PERIOD, FOR STAFF TO GO TO WORK FOR A UTILITY.

SIMONS: REAL QUICKLY, CAN YOU RESTORE INTEGRITY TO THE COMMISSION, IF SO HOW?

SEARS: MY EXPERTISE AT THE COMMISSION AND WILLING TO ALWAYS BEING AN ADVOCATE, RESIGNING TO ACTUALLY RUN AND SERVE ALL ARIZONANS AND TO PROTECT THE ARIZONA RATE PAYER.

SIMONS: ALL RIGHT. TIME NOW FOR CLOSING STATEMENTS, AND GOING IN REVERSE ORDER OF OUR OPENING STATEMENTS WE START WITH BILL MONDEL.

MUNDELL: AS I MENTIONED IN MY OPENING REMARKS, I STARTED MY CAREER FIGHTING CORRUPTION IN CHANDLER, AND THEN I CONTINUED BY CAREER PROTECTING CONSUMERS, PROTECTING ARIZONA ENVIRONMENT. I WANT TO RETURN TO THE COMMISSION WHERE I SERVED FOR NINE AND A HALF YEARS, SO ARIZONA CAN BECOME THE SOLAR CAPITOL OF THE WORLD. IF YOU VOTE FOR SANDRA KENNEDY AND ME, WE WILL BE THE SOLAR CAPITOL OF THE WORLD. WE WILL STOP UNJUSTIFIED RATE INCREASES BY POWERFUL MONOPOLY UTILITIES. WE WILL HAVE CLEAN ENERGY, CLEAN WATER AND A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT. WE WOULD BE HONORED TO BE YOUR DEMOCRATIC NOMINEES. WE APPRECIATE YOUR VOTE AND SUPPORT. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

SIMONS: ALL RIGHT. THANK YOU VERY MUCH. AND NEXT WE GO TO SANDRA KENNEDY.

KENNEDY: AGAIN, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE OPPORTUNITY THIS EVENING. BILL AND I ARE RUNNING FOR THE ARIZONA CORPORATION COMMISSION. IT'S TIME TO CHANGE THE COMMISSION AND RETURN IT TO IT'S RIGHTFUL OWNERS, THE CUSTOMERS, THE RATE PAYERS, THE VOTERS OF THIS STATE. BILL AND I INTEND TO GET THE JOB DONE. WHEN STAFF SAYS THAT THERE SHOULDN'T BE A RATE INCREASE, THEN THE COMMISSIONER SHOULD FOLLOW THAT -- SUGGESTION OF THE STAFF AND THERE SHOULD NOT BE A RATE INCREASE. WE ARE GOING TO WORK DILIGENTLY ON BEHALF OF THE CONSUMERS OF THIS STATE. I'M A CONSUMER ADVOCATE. I LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR VOTE, YOUR SUPPORT, AND THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE OPPORTUNITY.

SIMONS: ALL RIGHT. AND THANK YOU. FOR OUR FINAL CLOSING STATEMENT.

SEARS: AS A CANDIDATE FOR THE ARIZONA CORPORATION COMMISSION, I VOW TO RETURN HONESTY, TRANSPARENCY TO THE COMMISSION. I RESIGNED TO WORK FOR US, RATE PAYERS OF ARIZONA. ALL FAMILIES SHOULD HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO FLOURISH HERE IN ARIZONA. THAT'S WHY I'M RUNNING, AND WHY I SIT HERE TELLING YOU TO VOTE FOR ME, YOUR DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE FOR THE ARIZONA CORPORATION COMMISSION. I PROMISE TO PROTECT US, WHETHER IT'S RURAL COUNTIES OR METROPOLITAN AREAS, I AM HERE TO SERVE. MY ENTIRE CAREER HAS BEEN SERVING ARIZONANS. AND I AM BRINGING A FRESH VOICE TO THE CORPORATION COMMISSION.

SIMONS: THANK YOU, CANDIDATES. GOOD DEBATE AND GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE. AND THANK YOU FOR WATCHING THIS SPECIAL ELECTION 2018 EDITION "ARIZONA HORIZON." SPONSORED BY CLEAN ELECTIONS FEATURING THE DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES FOR ARIZONA CORPORATION COMMISSION. TOMORROW WE'LL HAVE DEBATE FOR REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES FOR THE SAME, CORPORATION COMMISSION. I'M TED SIMONS. THANK YOU AGAIN FOR JOINING US. YOU HAVE A GREAT EVENING. ♪

Former commissioners Sandra Kennedy and William “Bill” Mundell
Kiana Maria Sears, a community advocate and a nonprofit community leader

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The Capital building with text reading: Circle on Circle: Robert Lowell's D.C.
May 2

An evening with ‘Poetry in America’

Graphic for the AZPBS kids LEARN! Writing Contest with a child sitting in a chair writing on a table and text reading: The Ultimate Field Trip
May 12

Submit your entry for the 2024 Writing Contest

Poetry in America image with photos of four poets and the name of the show
airs April 18

Mushrooms, Weakness and Doubt 

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