Candidates campaign at Leap-a-Looza

Joshua Polacheck, Democratic candidate for Arizona Corporation Commission, listens to voters during the Graham-Greenlee Leap-a-Looza event at The Vignette on Main in Safford on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024. - David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central

SAFFORD — The last day of February brought the first locally organized campaign event of the year.

The Democratic Parties of Graham and Greenlee counties joined together for a Leap-a-Looza barbecue event at The Vignette on Main on Thursday, giving voters a chance to ask questions of candidates for state office.

Bob Karp, of Sierra Vista, who is running for state Senate in Legislative District 19 — which includes Graham, Greenlee and Cochise counties — said “third time’s a charm,” acknowledging his two previous campaigns where he came up short at the ballot box. He said he was convinced to run again because of the lack of compromise at the Capital.

Bob Karp, standing left, Democratic candidate for state Senate, explains the importance of voting the entire ballot during the Leap-a-Looza campaign event in Safford on Thursday.
– David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central

“The Republicans are governing on a razor-thin majority of one in the state Senate, and one in the state House, but they’re acting like the rest of us don’t matter,” Karp said.

He added that the difference could be in voters making sure to complete their entire ballot, not just voting for the races at the top.

Nick Nordgran-Tellez, of Solomon, who is running for state House in LD 19, said, if elected, his priorities would be properly funding and protecting public education and protecting Arizona’s water.

Nick Nordgran-Tellez, Democratic candidate for state House, outlines for the voters his priorities should he be elected this fall.
– David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central

Joshua Polacheck, of Tucson, was the only candidate running for a statewide office in attendance. He’s running for Corporation Commission on a platform of protecting utility users and not utility companies, and that means focusing on renewable energy.

“It’s been pretty clear for at least the last four years now, that if we’re going to be making investments in new production capacity, it needs to be through clean energy. It’s cheaper than coal and gas, and it’s more reliable,” Polacheck said.

The local party was also collecting signatures for candidates and initiatives to qualify for the ballot.

The dirty tricks also started Thursday, with an anonymous call to the Graham County Sheriff’s Office claiming that the Democrats were bringing in a bus full of undocumented immigrants to be released at the event.