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Parker-Mason GOP Corp Comm slate: ‘Ratepayer advocates’

Former AZ lawmaker Lucy Mason and former Paradise Valley mayor Vernon Parker (File photos)

Former AZ lawmaker Lucy Mason and former Paradise Valley mayor Vernon Parker (File photos)

The Republican primary race for the Arizona Corporation Commission became competitive last month, when former state lawmaker Lucy Mason announced she and former Paradise Valley mayor Vernon Parker would run on a slate for the two nominations.

They face current state lawmaker Tom Forese and Scottsdale businessman Doug Little, who are also running as a team.

Parker’s entrance to the race also marks the end of his third bid for Congress. He came in third in the ten-way GOP primary to replace John Shadegg in 2010. He lost to now-U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema in 2012 after a combative campaign. In 2013 he raised more than $400,000 for his campaign to unseat Sinema.

Parker said he thinks a Republican could win in the district, but he listed several adverse factors, most notably the huge amount of money required for a winning campaign in his estimation.

After some thought and after meeting with Mason, who had been planning a run for the Corporation Commission, Parker decided to join her.

Mason said she was impressed with Parker, observing that the two are “like-minded.” They’re aligned on the issues and have the same philosophies, she explained.

Ultimately the decision to run together was a practical business decision, Mason said. Using the state’s public campaign financing system has become standard for Corporation Commission candidates, and all the candidates running this year are using it. Each candidate that can collect 1,700 $5 certifying contributions will receive $97,620 for the primary and $146,430 for the general election once the nominees are selected.

Parker said his time as Paradise Valley mayor and assistant Secretary of Agriculture in the George W. Bush administration, paired with Mason’s focus on water and energy issues during her time in the Legislature, will distinguish them in the race.

Parker said he would reserve judgment on decisions about deregulation and renewable energy until giving them proper examination and meeting with stakeholders. Balance, and the best interests of the consumer is what Parker said he will advocate for.

“I really think you can’t favor one industry over another,” Parker said. “And you can’t be afraid of making an unpopular choice.”

Mason said the recent decision to implement a new fee on rooftop solar installations was a “gentle solution, for now.”

As solar technology becomes more efficient, inexpensive and available, the commission will be forced to deal with subsidies and fees again, Mason predicted.

The state’s Residential Utility Consumer Office did a good job, she said, finding a compromise between the interests of the solar industry, which has benefited greatly from incentives, and Arizona Public Service, which sees problems distributing fixed costs as the number of solar installations grow.

“Both sides are going to tee it up again,” Mason said.

She said she prefers to call the notion of deregulation, where consumers are allowed to buy their energy from competing utility providers, “re-regulation” and that she want’s competition in the overall system.

“I want healthy competition and healthy utilities to give us reliable power,” Mason said. But any regulation needs to be determined by the commissioners, and not the utilities. “We don’t want to be pushed around.”

Nathan Sproul and Lincoln Strategy Group are running the campaign.

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