After two years as an Arizona State Representative, Ethan Orr has seen the good and bad in state politics. The Republican from District 9 has some huge concerns about the partisan politics that he feels has hurt the state.
He is inspired by the likes of Carl Hayden, Mo Udall and Barry Goldwater, politicians he feels “put Arizona first, community always came first.”
“We need to change the tenor of the conversation at the capitol,” Orr said. “This election is again highlighting it. It is still a very partisan conversation. People still care more about scoring political points than solving a problem. That is not why I am up there. I want to change that culture.”
Orr hopes that if he is re-elected he can become a committee chair and take a bigger leadership role to help mend fences and get both sides working on the big problems that face the state.
“The way things used to be 10-12 years ago is that when you have a problem you would surround it by smart people from both sides of the legislation that really wanted to solve that problem, kind of like we did with CPS, and they would hash it out and solve it.”
Orr feels he was been very successful in getting things done his first two years, noting that Governor Jan Brewer came down to Tucson to sign bills that he drafted and got passed, including his commercial space flight bill that will bring a new industry to the state and could create over 100 new jobs in Tucson.
“I found that once I got up there I could be extraordinarily effective,” Orr said. “If you look at the legislation I have done, I have actually done more than the entire democratic caucus combined.”
He also points out that he helped resolved a dispute between Pima College and Santa Cruz County that helped save $1 million. He also got additional funding for education projects, including JTED, Pima College and the University of Arizona.
Orr is running for re-election for the same reason he initially ran two years ago, because he wants to help shape the future of the state, and specifically Tucson.
“We always have a discussion about what we don’t want to be but no one wants to articulate a vision of who we want to be, what we want Tucson to be in the future,” Orr said. “I want to be a part of articulating that vision for what Tucson will be in the future.”
Orr has three areas that are very important to him and all three are inextricably linked in his mind. The first is education. Not only does he feel that a strong education system attracts jobs, but it also can create skilled workers to fill jobs that currently exist. That is one reason he has backed JTED and is working to help create programs that will help students with dual enrollment where a student is pursuing their high school diploma, while also getting community college credit that is shown to help students better pursue an associates or four-year degree. Long term Orr wants to work with the trade unions so that students can pursue that diploma but also graduate with a trade. Orr points to a lack of skilled machinists when a business looked to bring jobs to Tucson.
“There were 150 jobs that I could not fill, there were not enough machinists or mechanics,” Orr noted.
Orr is big on economic development, claiming that “I am the only one that has recruited business to Tucson,” Orr said, pointing to some of his legislation, as well as his work for the non-profit organization Linkages.
Along those same lines he believes that improving transportation infrastructure is also key to job creation. He has seen Texas improve their infrastructure and is actively courting produce companies from Nogales. He feels that by expanding I-19 into Mexico, as well as creating an I-10, I-19 bypass that it can help trade with Mexico. He also looks at creating international trade zone, much like is done in Washington and British Columbia, that would help companies compete with China.