SA: What led you to run for office?
RD: I think it was a combination of my personal experiences, the needs that our state has and a deeprooted passion to make the state a better place. We’re going to be losing a great State Senator in Barbara Leff and we need to be sure that we elect a conservative Republican to take her place.
SA: What is it about your background that you feel lends itself to the office?
RD: You know, it is a lot of things that match up very well. For folks whose primary concern is education, I’ve been a teacher and an administrator, even a chancellor for a school system. For voters whose main interest is business and the economy, I have run a successful business and know what it means to make payroll. If border security is what matters to you, then my background in the Department of Homeland Security has given me unparalleled expertise on the topic. In every case, my job has been to look after the best interests of people, groups, businesses, as well as the community they serve, and that is very much the role of a legislator.
SA: You mentioned Homeland Security, what exactly did you do there?
RD: I was asked by President George W. Bush to work at the White House as the Director of Terrorism Prevention Policy for the Homeland Security Council. And prior to that, I served as the Director of the Task Force to Prevent the Entry of Weapons of Mass Effect and the Director of the Academe, Policy and Research Senior Advisory Committee for Secretaries Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff at the Department of Homeland Security. Big long fancy titles like you would expect to find in the Federal Government, but essentially we worked to build defenses needed to prevent terrorism here in the United States. Issues like nuclear and bio-terrorism were primary concerns of ours.
SA: Did the issue of border security come up often in those scenarios?
RD: Oh it came up all the time. You can imagine how difficult it is to protect your home when you leave the backdoor wide open, twenty-four hours a day. It is one of the many reasons why securing the border needs to be a top priority for our federal government and our state government as well. The issue of illegal immigration isn’t just about people coming for jobs. Its about drugs, crime, guns, human trafficking and abuse, welfare fraud, and of course national security above all else. We need to develop history’s most sophisticated border integrity system to help meet these challenges.
SA: The big story at the Legislature this year was the budget, and its likely to dominate next year as well. How would you approach the state’s budget woes?
RD: If you stand up in front of voters and say “We cannot spend more than we take in” everyone gets it and no one disagrees. When she was Governor, Janet Napolitano spent us into a huge hole, and now its time to get out. The only way we’re going to do that is to cut spending and make systemic changes to state government. We need to change the programs that are on auto-pilot and get the voters to give the power to spend back to the legislature. We also need to give the legislature the power to control the entire state’s budget. Right now, we are one of three states where they do not have that power. There are billions of dollars that are controlled by the Governor without any input from the elected Legislature, and that leaves us without adequate checks and balances….and that of course will add to our budget issues.
SA: As a legislator, Jan Brewer agreed with that position, but as Governor, she no longer wants to give that power to the Legislature. How would you deal with that?
RD: Putting a politician in control of billions of dollars without supervision is never a good idea. It isn’t right. The governor of Arizona should have accountability for budget decisions. Checks and balances are necessary to ensure that the taxpayers’ money isn’t squandered. Going forward, we need to insist that all of the candidates for Governor take a public position on this issue and then hold them accountable. Frankly, whether its this issue or any other, we have to be able to hold our elected officials accountable and we have to insist that they keep their words and campaign promises. Too many people have lost faith in the process because they have lost faith in the politicians, and that’s a real danger to the Republic.
SA: There is speculation that others might be interested in running in the Republican Primary for this seat. How would you deal with that?
RD: We’ve heard a lot of names that might be interested in this seat, and we’re very aware that the Democrats are also going to make a major push for it in the General Election. From early on we’ve known that this was going to be a very expensive race and that we would probably have to spend north of $100,000 to win the primary, then reload for the general. So we’ve been very aggressive with our fundraising and are delighted by the results. It is important that we elect fresh blood into the State Legislature and we most certainly need to keep this seat in the hands of a conservative Republican.
SA: You describe yourself as a conservative Republican, so are we safe in assuming that you are pro-life?
RD: Oh absolutely. I believe in the sanctity of life and marriage. I am pro-2nd Amendment, pro-State’s Rights. Pro-all the good stuff (laughing). Our party has got a great platform and I look forward to defending it.
SA: Thank you for spending this time with us.
RD: Happy to do so.