After forming an exploratory committee to consider running for governor, Sen. Al Melvin, R-District 11, is confident that his bold ideas could lead him to the state’s top position in 2014.
Melvin, a three-term senator, points to improving the public education system, and putting limits on jury verdicts as his two top priorities.
While both go against the current Arizona Constitution, Melvin said he is confident he can educate voters on the need to make changes to both.
When it comes to public education, Melvin is a fan of the voucher system, which would allow parents to take a voucher and send their children to whatever school they choose.
“I consider myself to be an educator,” Melvin told The Explorer in an interview on April 26. “Our K-12 system in this country is broken. We have spent more than any other country for 20 years, and yet we are ranked 20th in the world. This must be fixed.”
Melvin’s idea of fixing the problem would be to change the constitution and make it where schools have to compete for students.
“Good old American competitiveness will kick in and our education system will improve,” said Melvin.
In limiting jury verdicts, Melvin, a SaddleBrooke resident, is taking a Texas-style approach. In 2003, Texas lawmakers capped noneconomic damages that a plaintiff could receive for medical malpractice at $250,000.
Calling it a success in Texas, Melvin said it drove the lawyers away and encouraged doctors to open their doors and more jobs were created because of tort reform.
“Every doctor in this state will want tort reform,” Melvin said. “Doctors are spending $800,00 billion a year on defensive medicine and order unnecessary tests to avoid a lawsuit.”
Melvin said Arizona may not go as low as $250,000, but he feels he could persuade voters to approve changing the constitution in an election to put a cap on jury verdicts.
As Melvin, a retired captain from the Navy Reserve, moves forward, he stressed that his top priority is creating jobs in Arizona. Melvin said he supports the opening of the Rosemont Copper Mine east of Tucson near Vail, he continues to push for the Union Pacific Railroad project in Pinal County and as governor would look statewide for projects that would create work for the people.
However, Melvin admits his visions for Arizona’s future will not be easy, and much of it will center around having the infrastructure in place to allow for growth.
“If we are plentiful in water, electricity and transportation, then we have the viable ingredients for success,” he said. “A major issue we have to consider is how we ensure where the water is going to come from.”
Melvin, 68, said the answer for Arizona is taking a strong look at the desalination process of ocean water and taking advantage of neighbors such as Mexico and California having plenty of ocean water.
With 70 percent of the earth’s surface being water, and 90 percent of that being sea water, Melvin said instead of focusing so much energy on solar, Arizona should be looking more at the desalination of ocean water.
Sounding confident, Melvin said he feels his bold ideas can lead him to a victory over some of the more well-known Republicans entering the governor’s race in the 2014 primaries.
Melvin likely won’t officially announce if he is running until January since Arizona elected officials cannot formally announce for another office before the last year of their term.
Besides Melvin on the Republican side, former Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman has entered the 2014 governor’s race, while other possible candidates include Secretary of State Ken Bennett, state Treasurer Doug Ducey and Mesa Mayor Scott Smith.
Possible candidates considering a run at the Democratic primaries include House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, a Phoenix Democrat who has signaled interest, and Fred DuVal, a former Arizona Board of Regents president.
DuVal officially announced his candidacy last week in Tucson.