Democratic candidates for the Arizona Corporation Commission will debate at 7 p.m. tonight in an event hosted by The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com.
Five elected corporation commissioners set rates and other policies for electric, water and gas utilities in Arizona. They also oversee other matters such as securities regulation, railroad crossings and power plant and power line locations.
They are elected to four-year terms and are paid $80,000 annually.
Two of the five seats currently held by Republicans are up for election this year, with the incumbents running to retain their positions.
The Arizona Republic’s Ryan Randazzo explains what the Arizona Corporation Commission does and how these five elected officials can have a big impact on your electric bill.
Who’s running in the Democratic primary?
Democrats running this year are former commissioners Bill Mundell and Sandra Kennedy and newcomer Kiana Maria Sears. Mundell and Kennedy are campaigning together.
Mundell was appointed to the commission as a Republican and served two full terms, ending in 2009. Before that, he served in the state Legislature and was a Municipal Court judge.
He was among the authors of the state’s renewable energy standard that requires electric companies to get 15 percent of their power from renewable sources such as solar and wind by 2025.
Mundell said he switched to the Democratic Party after his time on the commission largely because of the influence the utilities have on Republican commissioners.
Kennedy was elected and served one term on the Corporation Commission, ending in 2012. Before that, she served six years as a state representative starting in 1986, and another six as a state senator. She also owned a restaurant.
Sears worked in the utilities division of the Corporation Commission for more than six years. She said she is running because it is a way for her to give back to the community. She grew up in New Orleans and has lived in Arizona for 23 years.
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