Arizona’s Secretary of State

( – promoted by navajo)

In Arizona, the number two person in state government is the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State becomes governor if the governor is unable or no longer wants to serve. This has happened a number of times in Arizona history.

The race for Arizona Secretary of State is particularly interesting this year. The challenger is Chris Deschene, an enrolled member of the Navajo tribe.  

Education is one of the concerns on the minds of Arizona voters. The Republican incumbent takes the standard “no increased taxes” anti-education approach. Deschene, on the other hand, sees education as investment in the state’s future. He has promised to review the state’s corporate-tax loopholes and close those first. This is an approach which is offensive to the Republicans’ corporate base.

As the grandson of a World War II Navajo Codetalker, Deschene worked hard to obtain an appointment to the United States Naval Academy. He graduated with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and served for ten years as an infantry and special forces reconnaissance officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. He served two tours overseas in the Middle East and Southeast Asia and acted as Executive Officer for his reconnaissance company, leading more than 160 Marines. He completed his service as a decorated officer with the rank of Major.

After returning to Arizona, Deschene earned both a law degree and a a Masters in Mechanical Engineering with an emphasis in renewable and alternative energy development.

Arizona does not have a good record with regard to Indian voting rights. During his campaign for the Arizona House of Representatives, Chris faced a challenge to his nominating petitions that sought to take advantage of contradictions within Arizona’s election laws in order to disenfranchise rural PO Box voters by taking away their right to select and nominate their own candidates. The Secretary of State had the jurisdiction to step in and provide a solution for the discrepancy, but chose not to get involved. Chris didn’t hesitate to take the fight to court and won, protecting the rights of rural voters to participate and nominate their own candidates, regardless of their PO Box addresses.

As State Representative, Deschene sponsored House Bill 2730 which would clarify the PO Box issue and protect voters’ rights as a matter of law. He also sponsored House Bill 2729 which sought to increase and define the technical qualifications for members of the committee who oversee Arizona’s electronic voting machines. HB 2729 recently passed out of the House with unanimous support and will soon be voted on by the Senate on its way to becoming law.

The Republican plan for voting involves the creation of voting centers, a plan which would make it more difficult for rural voters-many Indians in the state live in rural areas-to get to the polls. Deschene has suggested opening weekend polling sites for the rural areas.

While Deschene’s Republic opponent supports Arizona’s illegal-immigration law, Deschene voted against SB 1070. With regard to SB 1070, Deschene says:

“It (SB 1070) does nothing to address border security. It puts our public-safety officers in a no-win situation. And what it really does is hurts our economy.”

While Republicans often talk about their support for small business (translation: large corporations), Deschene has actual small business experience. As co-founder of a successful law practice, he represents tribal and rural communities across the country, working to develop infrastructure for natural and energy resources, providing much needed economic development and jobs in communities that need it most.

For more information about Chris Deschene check out his website.


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