Getting to know LD1 House and Senate candidates

An introduction to the candidates running for Legislative District 1 seats in the House of Representatives and Senate: There are six candidates (four Republicans and two Democrats) running for two seats in the House. There are three candidates (two Republicans and one Democrat) running for one seat in the Senate.

See candidates' responses to big-issue questions

HOUSE CANDIDATES (four responding)


Selina Bliss

Selina Bliss, Republican

Age: 60

Residence: Prescott

Hometown: Prescott

Family: Married 28 years with one daughter

Education: Doctorate in nursing education, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing.

Work: 36 years as a nurse at Yavapai Regional Medical Center while teaching nursing at Yavapai College for the past 26 years. Now retired.

Politics: Precinct and State Committeeman for the Yavapai County Republican Party, Member of the National and Arizona Federations of Republican Women, and the Republican Women of Prescott. Member of the Yavapai County Industrial Development Authority.

Community service: Member of the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue, Prescott and Prescott Valley Chambers of Commerce, Citizens Water Advocacy Group, Yavapai County Education Foundation, and Board Member of the Arizona State Rifle and Pistol Association


Judy Burges

Judy Burges, Republican


Residence: Skull Valley

Hometown: Skull Valley

Family: 3 Children

Education: BA Management; MBA Business Administration

Work : Both Private and Public

Politics: Arizona State Representative and Senate

Community service:


Quang Nguyen

Quang Nguyen, Republican

Age: 59

Residence: Prescott Valley

Family: Married 29 years, 2 children

Education: BA Technology Education, CSU Long Beach, Calif.

Work: Since graduating college in 1985, I have worked with multiple corporations including Northrop Corporation (Before it became Northrop Grumman), Fluor Corporation, Sonance Audio, Knox Company, and self-employed from 2006 to present. At Northrop Corporation, Aircraft Division, I was assigned to the F-18/A and F-20 Tigershark program. The rest of my career covers the area of marketing and branding.

Politics: First term as a House of Representative, R – Legislative District 1

Community service: Travel the country to thank and work with Veterans covering 38 states; Volunteered as rifle coach for AZ junior marksmanship team; Teach CCW Classes at no cost


Cathy Ransom

Cathy Ransom, Democrat

Age: 57

Residence: Cottonwood

Hometown: U.S. Navy

Family: 1 daughter

Education: B.A. Philosophy, University of Redlands Johnston Center for Integrative Studies; M.A. Philosophy, San Diego State University.

Work: Small Business owner 30 years; Business Manager and Coach at OsteoStrong Sedona; Legal Advocate for Victims of Domestic Violence.

Politics: Save Our Schools Field Organizer; Precinct Captain Community service: Board Member, Red Earth Theatre; volunteer, Sedona Charter School; volunteer, Verde Valley Montessori; Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for children in foster care; President HOA; President Alumni Association; University of Redlands Trustee.


Neil Sinclair

Neil Sinclair, Democrat

Age: 67

Residence: Prescott

Hometown: Pasadena, Calif.

Family: Married, 2 children, 1 grandchild

Education: University of California Berkeley, University of California Santa Barbara, BA Environmental Studies

Work: Water and wastewater treatment plant operations, Solar power system design, electric cars and motors (VP Marketing and Engineering), currently chairman of CyberTran International Inc., a mass transit system

Politics: elected Chair of Sweetwater Springs Water District - 1988, candidate for US Congress, 1988,

Community service experience: Member of Boards of Directors: Alameda County Art Commission, Mountain Artists Guild, River Community Services, Sonoma County Board of Education, President - Campuses United Against Apartheid, President - People for a Fair Water Policy, KCSB Radio Council, Keep Sedona Beautiful, President - Save Our Ancient Red Rocks (SOAR)

These LD1 House candidates did not respond by the print deadline:

Judy Burges (R), Ryan Cadigan (R), Quang Nguyen (R). Rep. Burges and Rep. Nguyen’s responses were added to the online story. Look for a second issue-oriented Q&A with LD1 candidates (including your questions) before early voting begins July 6.

Q. What makes you the most appropriate person to represent the new LD1 in the House?

Bliss: Having lived and worked on both sides of Yavapai County and this District for over 50 years, I have a deep respect for our history and an understanding of what is important to our constituents. Compared to other candidates, I have demonstrated leadership ability and am engaged with our communities.

Burges: Serving in the legislature gives you a broad perspective of the issues facing not only the nation but Arizona. As your “America First candidate and a charter member of the Liberty Caucus that has a proven history of supporting Constitutional freedoms, I cannot be bought, intimidated, or blackmailed into supporting poor legislation. My service to Arizona is about serving you and your community needs.

Nguyen: I am a conservative Republican and have just finished my first two years as your representative in the AZ House for LD1. As a freshman, I helped pass the largest tax cut in the history of Arizona. I authored bills to protect patient’s rights during COVID, preserve our religious liberties, reclaim our Second Amendment right, improve our civics education standards. I also helped with the universal expansion of the Empowerment Scholarship Accounts to all students in the state of Arizona.

Ransom: After two decades in Cottonwood, I know Verde Valley needs quality legislative representation which we’ve missed since Tom O’Halleran left the State Senate in 2009. As a former Legal Advocate for Domestic Violence Victims and CASA for foster kids, I understand the concerns of working families and seniors.

Sinclair: Arizona needs forward visionary thinking in response to opportunities with solar energy and the solutions they can lend to climate change. A lifetime of work dedicated to solar-powered mass transit has prepared me for collaborative solution-oriented administrative and legislative work.

Q. If elected, what would you most like to accomplish for LD1?

Burges: Getting the border wall finished, a new meat packing plant, resolve short term rentals and OHV issues.

Nguyen: I would like to come back to finish my work on severely criminalizing those who traffic fentanyl causing the death of our young population.

Ransom: Protect and preserve the Upper and Middle Verde River by updating the state’s water policy: require measurement of large-user groundwater pumping in the Verde Valley and throughout the state; create stakeholder panels to inform policy so everyone impacted is invested and informed; conservation measures with consequences. Save Spring Creek!

Sinclair: LD1 needs to have a Rural Water Management system that can protect and replenish our aquifers. The Verde River is a critical perennial river in Arizona and it needs protected. A stakeholder driven policy geared towards conservation can help us protect our future in Yavapai County.

Bliss: When elected I want to bring back our reputation in the state as a leader in conservative legislation and stop government overreach by bringing back local control to the cities and towns to determine what is best for our communities.

Q. Who has been the biggest influence on your political philosophy?

Sinclair: Benjamin Franklin provided wisdom, courage, and vision as a philosopher, writer, and inventor. “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” At our country’s birth, Franklin provided perspective to the colonies as he edited the Declaration of Independence and was one of the few founding fathers to advocate against slavery.

Bliss: For my political philosophy, my biggest influence was my late grandfather who served for 17 years in the South Dakota State House, much of that as the Chair of the Appropriations Committee. He believed in the value of hard work and conservative values and lead in making the tough decisions.

Burges: Russell Pearce

Nguyen: Ronald Reagan

Ransom: MLK on justice and equity. Sister Joan Chitister on reproductive freedom, “I don’t believe opposition to abortion makes you pro-life. In fact… your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born

Q. What are the three highest-priority issues in LD1 that need long-term solutions?

Bliss: High-priority issues for LD1 include updating our ground and surface water laws, protecting the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms, and securing the southern border to promote legal entry into Arizona thereby reducing the current level of drug and sex trafficking seen in the I-17 corridor.

Burges: Ensure adequate water supply for your community, work towards solving SEL, CRT and Planned Sex Education issues in your schools.

Nguyen: Funding border security to include finishing the wall; Water augmentation; Re-introduce the election integrity bills that did not make it through the 55th Session

Ransom: 1) Update our antiquated water policy. 2) Arizona voters should no longer welcome forces hostile to democracy within our halls of power. I am here to provide a choice for sane, responsible government. 3) Public schools need to retain quality teachers. Our students, schools and teachers deserve our continued support.

Sinclair: Water management - We must monitor, assess, and conserve our essential resource. Education - We must properly fund public education, increase our teacher salaries and reduce class sizes in order to be nationally competitive. Healthcare - We must address the shortage of healthcare workers to ensure optimum coverage of our population.

Q. The Verde Valley, due to its environment and heavy tourism, has unique needs within LD1. How will you respond to those issues if elected?

Nguyen: I am currently working with stakeholders on the following: The damage done by out-of-control Off Highway Vehicle (OHV). We have made some positive moves to the short-term rental and will do more to return to local control status.

Ransom: Local jurisdictions, cities and county, need to have the power to control local issues like OHV, short-term rentals, and growth in pristine areas like Spring Creek. I would work with local vintners to determine appropriate wine production caps for the Verde Valley and advocate for those in the legislature.

Sinclair: Workforce housing and traffic management are some of the consequences of the Verde Valley’s tourist economy. We need to protect our beautiful natural environment from the effects of rapid growth. Prioritizing local control solutions to deal with the challenges of short term rentals would be one of my legislative priorities.

Bliss: The state legislature needs to give back control to local jurisdictions, so the Verde Valley has the ability to protect its quality of life and public safety as seen fit. A recent example is the government overreach stripping towns and municipalities of the ability to oversee short-term rentals.

Burges: My responsibility as a legislature requires me to listen to your needs and work with you to find a way to resolve those issues.

SENATE CANDIDATS (two responding)


Ken Bennett

Ken Bennett, Republican

Age: 62

Residence: Prescott

Hometown: Prescott

Family: Married 40 years, 3 grown children, 4 grandchildren

Education: B.S. Accounting - ASU

Work: CEO & CFO – Bennett Oil, Board of Directors – Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Politics: AZ Secretary of State 2009-2015, AZ State Senator 1999-2007, Prescott City Council 1985-1989

Community service: Founding Member Yavapai College Alumni Association, Prescott Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Youth Baseball & Soccer Coach, Yavapai Big Brothers & Sisters


Mike Fogel

Mike Fogel, Democrat

Age: 64

Residence: Chino Valley

Hometown: Arlington Heights, Ill.

Family: Wife Wendy Watson; sons Dylan Fogel, Haydn Fogel and Conor Watson; parents Mike and JoAnn Fogel

Education: BA History/Education; MS Sport Management; Education Leadership Certificate

Work: Retired, Self Employed; Headmaster, Kemsley Academy; Principal, Bagdad Unified School District; Assistant Principal, Social Studies Teacher, Basketball Coach, Chino Valley High School and Heritage Middle School; Head Women’s Basketball Coach, Northeastern Illinois University; Athletic Facilities Coordinator, Coach, Faculty, California State University, Los Angeles

Politics: Chino Valley Unified School Board Member; President of the Chino Valley Education Association

Community service: Little League Coach, Victory Board Member, Rotary Club, Hungry Kids Volunteer, Hospice Volunteer


This LD1 Senate candidate did not respond by the deadline:

Steve Zipperman (R). Look for a second issue-oriented Q&A with LD1 candidates (including your questions) before early voting begins July 6.

Q. What makes you the most appropriate person to represent the new LD1 in the Senate?

Bennett: I have lived in Yavapai County (LD1) almost my entire life. I represented LD1 in the Senate from 1999 to 2007. Our family business has served the Verde Valley and Prescott sides of the County. During my previous terms I was known for being fair and representing the entire County.

Fogel: I will respond to my constituents’ interests and not business elites of Maricopa County. This is one reason I am running a clean election with the Clean Slate for Democracy slate. I have lived and worked is a public school educator in Yavapai County for almost 30 years and understand the challenges our school districts’ face in educating our youth.

Q. If elected, what would you most like to accomplish for LD1?

Fogel: 1) Secure a steady revenue stream to increase per-pupil funding of public schools to reach national average. 2) Protect the areas ground water levels.

Bennett: Be a voice of the people of District 1 and fight for their best interests in the Legislature against the government bureaucracy. Secure the State’s finances, such as the state retirement systems, which are now $20 Billion UNDER-funded. They were over 100% funded last time I served.

Q. Who has been the biggest influence on your political philosophy?

Bennett: My parents. Both hard workers, Christian, conservatives who cherished the Constitution and the principles of life, liberty and opportunity.

Fogel: James Madison

Q. What are the three highest-priority issues in LD1 that need long-term solutions?

Fogel: 1) Increased school funding. 2) Preservation of ground water. 3) Subsidize working class housing, child care and health insurance where most needed.

Bennett: Secure State finances. Pay down state debts, especially the retirement systems. Lower taxes and more efficient spending of taxpayer monies. Secure our elections. Secure the border, as the present administration has completely failed to do so. Significantly expand funding to county sheriffs to fill in gaps where feds are failing. Repurpose State Dept of Military Affairs as state border enforcement agency.

Q. The Verde Valley, due to its environment and heavy tourism, has unique needs within LD1. How will you respond to those issues if elected?

Bennett: As I did before, the Verde Valley part of the District will be equally important as the western half of the County. I will fight to protect tourism, environment, water, education, economic opportunities, and every other need of its citizens.

Fogel: Legislate to preserve water, give back local control to deal with short term rentals (Airbnb), increase work force housing.

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