Jo Holt, a Democrat, is new to the political stage, but feels it’s time for a newcomer to take the reins in the State Senate for Legislative District 11, formerly known as District 26.
Holt, running against Republican Al Melvin, realizes she is an unknown trying to unseat a well-known incumbent, but feels her passion for improving education will help push her to victory in the Nov. 6 General Election.
“Education is a very important issue to me,” she said. “But, I think my primary complaint is no one in Phoenix is listening to what is really going on. It’s nothing about (Melvin). I’m really concerned about the state of the public education system. The last thing Arizona needed to do is cut public education in 2009.”
Holt, referring to major cuts made by the Republican-led legislature in 2009 to balance the budget, said the cuts to education were detrimental to a state that continues to rank as one of the lowest when it comes to funding per student.
Holt said the point to public education is so that every child has the right to a solid education, which means one school needs to be just as good as the other.
While Melvin is promoting a system that would allow school districts and charter schools to compete for students, Holt said the entire system needs to be looked at, which means looking at how standardized testing and teachers’ pay is a big problem.
Holt said she is frustrated by a state legislature that approves standards, such as a requirement that third graders have to be reading at a third grade level before they can move to fourth grade, but not approving any funding to pay for it.
“Are the resources there? Is holding children back a good idea? Do we really take the approach that if you aren’t doing well enough you will be punished, or do we look at why they have failed?” Holt asked.
Education is just the tip of what concerns a political newcomer like Holt. The retired scientist said she is concerned with the new habit of cutting social programs such as the Arizona Healthcare Cost Containment System (AHCCS), Kids Care programs and unemployment.
“The consequences of all these cuts may not show up through a yearly budget, but the problems are still there,” Holt said. “To say they balanced the budget just gives a false impression. They haven’t fixed anything. They have only made things worse.”
Holt said unlike Melvin and other members of the Arizona Legislature, she would start looking at the big picture, rather than balancing a budget on the backs of middle-class families.
When it comes to her opponent, Holt said she has been one of the constituents he’s supposed to be representing over the last four years, and her rating of Melvin isn’t very high.
“I don’t know who he’s representing,” Holt said. “He doesn’t seem to be representing the middle class. Instead, he is representing a smaller group and we don’t know who they even are.”
Holt said she also feels elected officials should be more available to the public. She said a lack of town halls and forums leaves voters in the dark about what is really happening and what is happening at the state capitol.
Holt said the state also needs to get more serious about solar energy.
While Holt said her life’s passion has always been science, she feels she can no longer sit on the sidelines when it comes the Arizona Legislature making major decisions that will impact the entire state, especially with math and science scores continually going down.
Holt, a graduate of the University of Arizona, specialized in biochemistry throughout her career that took her from Tucson to the Washington School of Medicine, and then back to Oro Valley.
After her husband became sick, Holt said they moved by to Southern Arizona.
Holt’s husband passed away in 2011.
(Editor’s Note: In the Sept. 26 issue of The Explorer, read Senator Al Melvin’s responses to Holt, his opinion of the Democratic party, why he is seeking re-election, and much more.)
General Election Candidates
Arizona Senate - District 11
Jo Holt - Democrat
Al Melvin - Republican
Arizona House - District 11
Two seats open
David Joseph - Democrat
Adam Kwasman - Republican
Steve Smith - Republican
Arizona Senate - District 9
Steve Farley - Democrat
Tyler Mott- Republican
Arizona House - District 9
Ethan Orr - Republican
Victoria Steele - Democrat
Sarah Mohur Sidhwa - Democrat
Pima County Board of
Supervisors - District 1
Ally Miller, Republican
Nancy Young Wright, Democrat
Pima County Sheriff
Clarence Dupnik - Democrat
Mark Napier - Republican
Aug. 6 - First day to request an early ballot, the last day is Oct. 26.
Oct. 9 - Voter registration cut-off
Oct. 11- Early voting begins
Nov. 6 - Primary Election Day