Peoria voters will consider the field of candidates for state Senate and House of Representatives positions at the Aug. 4 primary.
For the Arizona House of Representatives in District 21, incumbent Kevin Payne of Peoria and challengers Beverly Pingerelli of Peoria and Randy Miller of Sun City filed as Republican candidates, while Kathy Knecht of Peoria was the lone Democrat to file. Incumbent Tony Rivero of Peoria did not file.
Incumbent Rick Gray of Sun City is on the ballot for the District 21 Senate as a Republican, with Ryan Eldridge of Peoria a Republican write-in candidate. Brian Whitman of Peoria was the lone Democrat to file for the District 21 senate seat, but then withdrew from the race.
The Peoria Times sent questions to the candidates on their backgrounds and priorities. Here are the answers of those who responded:
Please briefly describe your background, including any relevant education and work history.
Rick Gray: I was born and raised in the heart of the Midwest, Omaha, Nebraska. On my first visit, I fell in love with Arizona and shortly afterward moved to the Phoenix area. I contributed to the Arizona economy by starting a small business. I graduated from Grace University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree. I am happily married. Lisa and I attend Christ Church of the Valley and are blessed to call Arizona their home. In January 2018, I was appointed to the Arizona State Senate. On Nov. 6, 2018, I was elected to this position and serve as the Senate majority leader.
Ryan Eldridge: In my younger years I coached Special Olympics in Tucson for about 10 years. I was a small-business owner for 10 years. My business was closed due to economic factors, and I tried everything I could to keep it open. My company was ranked in Ranking Arizona as one of the top 10 security firms for several years. My business was listed in the Phoenix Business Journal as one of the largest security agencies in Arizona.
I have managed security companies for almost 20 years with staff from 30 officers to 400 officers. I have been a certified armed and unarmed security guard trainer for several years, teaching hundreds of officers. I am an NRA Certified Instructor.
What neighborhood do you live in and for how long have you lived there?
Rick Gray: I live in Sun City and have lived here for 14 years.
Ryan Eldridge: I live in Peoria near 83rd Avenue and Cactus. I love my neighborhood. My neighbors are very caring and seem to really care about each other. My neighborhood is quiet, and we all work together to keep an eye out for each other.
What are the three biggest issues of this local election?
Ryan Eldridge: Where have our elected officials been during our current crisis? Why have they not been standing up for our constitutional rights and protecting our businesses?
We are in danger of our state turning blue. We need to band together and vote Republican and protect our rights. We also need to vote Republican for candidates that embody Republican values and not their pocketbooks. As you can clearly see, the nation is hurting and the Democratic Party is doing nothing but enabling the behavior of those causing damages and destroying property. Arizona needs leadership that is not afraid to step up to those infringing on our rights.
Rick Gray: The top issue facing the people that I talk to seems to be concerns about the COVID-19 issue and how it has impacted the economy, especially peoples jobs. I have done a lot of work helping people get their unemployment checks. Our state budget has also been impacted, and we are working to make sure we can maintain our support for our education system.
What experience do you have with managing spending?
Rick Gray: Outside of being a former business owner and handling all those finances, I have also served in the Legislature since 2011. I came in after the Great Recession; and we had worked to revive our economy, which we did, including bringing back 300,000 jobs to our state.
Ryan Eldridge: I am a former small-business owner of 10 years. I have also managed several businesses where I oversaw many aspects, including spending.
What new ideas do you have?
Ryan Eldridge: We need to look at all taxpayer-funded programs to look at buying services and products from Arizona-owned businesses before they look outside the state. It is proven that spending local keeps more money in the community and creates jobs which goes with my campaign platform: Arizona Focused, Local First.
Rick Gray: I have been working on adopting a long-term strategic plan for our Legislature. Because everyone has two-year terms, we can tend to be more reactive than proactive, and we are not always planning in the 10- to 20-year time frame, which I think is necessary.
We might not be able to accomplish it all ourselves, because legislators do not stay in office that long, but it would give direction for future legislators.
Why should someone vote for you?
Rick Gray: I have a long record to look at that shows the values I stand for and the goals I am pursuing. You can see it in my voting record, the organizations I am involved with, and the work I do in and for my community.
If you want me to continue working for you, then I ask for your vote.
Ryan Eldridge: We need to focus on fixing Arizona and taking care of the people of Arizona. During this “crisis” we are experiencing, our elected officials, especially those in my district, have not stepped up to protect the rights of Arizona and the people.
They have not come to the aid of the small businesses that have been forced to shut. They have not stepped up to protect our constitutional rights. I am a firm believer when there is a situation at hand, leaders need to get in front of the people, especially those that elected them into the office they serve and protect their rights, do their best to serve the office they took an oath for.
I promise that if elected I will work every day to protect your rights. To do everything that is within my power to fight for every one of you, not just my district, because we are Arizona and we are all in this together. Vote write-in candidate Ryan Eldridge State Senate District 21.