Rodney Glassman was once an aide to Arizona Congressman, and noted Progressive, Raul Grijalva, and a Democratic candidate for the United States Senate.
Now, as a Republican, the lawyer, Air Force reservist, and former Tucson city councilman, says he’s the only candidate, Republican or Democrat, with a plan to clean up the beleaguered Arizona Corporation Commission.
Glassman says he was immature when he called himself a Democrat and “grew up” to be a Republican after he became a husband and father. He says he became a Democrat at the age of 19 and was pushed to the party by a former Tucson mayor. A little over four years ago he says he realized his priorities leaned Republican after a friend questioned him.
“He said, ‘why are you a democrat?’ and when I responded with what was most important to me, being Israel, defense, taxes. He gave a little chuckle and said, ‘you grew up to be a Republican,’” says Glassman.
The response on the campaign trail has been positive, he says. He says the Republican Party has a long history of embracing converts, naming Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump as examples.
“And while I’m no Ronald Reagan or Donald Trump,” Glassman says, “as I matured, so did my viewpoints.”
Glassman pushes aside the notion that the GOP has swung right in recent years, years that coincide with his transition. He says the opposite is true, that Democrats have swung left, while his views have evolved.
Still, his choice to run for the beleaguered Arizona Corporation Commission draws interest. The powerful Arizona entity has been completely controlled by Republicans for years. Currently Republicans occupy all five seats on the ACC, even as polls of Arizonans show it is one of the most reviled agencies in the state.
Glassman responds by talking about how the ACC was created and why it is so important. He says its purpose it to protect ratepayers. He traces the problems with the ACC and its reputation, to a twenty year lack of integrity. He says the ACC has become a career politicians holding area.
“It’s become a resting place for former legislators. They want to spike their pensions or want to pursue future elected office. And that goes well beyond the current commission. If you look back over the last 20 years, that’s what’s been going on,” Glassman says.
The solution he says is to restore integrity. That starts, Glassman says, with not accepting contributions from the regulated utilities or their lobbyists. And, he says, he has a plan to hold Commissioners accountable by holding them to the same standards as judges in the state. He proposes that the ACC adopt the Arizona Code of Judicial Conduct.
Glassman says the issues with Commissioners comes once they get in office. State Supreme Courts write judicial codes of conduct that are binding on every judge in the state.
“That means no more campaigns funded by the utilities that the commissioners are supposed to regulate. No more free food. No more free entertainment. No more trips that are funded by the utilities that they regulate. I believe that level of integrity is what ratepayers deserve,” says Glassman.
Glassman says the ACC impacts the pocketbook’s of every Arizonan. He says ratepayers and business owners have suffered under the ACC and its lack of integrity. He says every decision they’ve made has been shrouded in confusion.
Glassman points to his background in arid land research and natural resources. He points to his experience tackling water issues and says tough questions need to be asked of water companies in the state when they ask for rate increases and operations adjustments.
“80 percent of the rate hearings at the Corporation Commission are water companies. There are over three hundred private water companies in Arizona. And I am proud to be the only candidate on either side of the aisle with a background in natural resources,” Glassman says.
Solar energy is another issue that Glassman thinks is shrouded in confusion. He says there have been activists on the ACC who don’t understand the job of the ACC. He says it is not a place for advocacy or mandates. The legislature, he says, should make those decision. He says that is what Democrats did in the mid-2000s.
“They were displeased with what the Arizona Legislature was doing. They were going to take it into their own hands and start advocating and start mandating. And I do not believe that that is the role of the Corporation Commission. The job is to look out for ratepayers,” Glassman says.
Glassman says adopting the Judicial Code of Conduct will solve a lot of the ACC’s integrity issues, and fairly quickly. His first task, if elected, is to propose the adoption of the code and then get to work protecting Arizonan’s from utility monopolies.
Two of the five seats on the ACC are up for grabs this elections cycle. Glassman faces four other Republicans in the Primary. They are incumbents Tom Forese and Justin Olson, and James O’Connor and Eric Sloan.
The Primary Election is August 28th.