Interview with Ruth Jones, Candidate for Chandler Mayor
Like incumbent mayor Kevin Hartke, Ruth Jones is a Republican. In her interview, Jones tells us why she thinks she's different and people should vote for her on Aug 2. Watch the video.
Jones is running on four major issues:
Combat the rise in the Chandler homeless population
Hire more police officers and pay them more
Pass the non-discrimination ordinance, NDO
Transparency in government
Video of the interview - 22 minutes
Use the navigation bar of the video player to skip to different video chapters.
Regarding homelessness in Chandler Jones told us that she thinks that policies of the city under incumbent mayor Kevin Hartke attract the homeless. The homeless don't get ticketed and there are 15 or so programs that the city spends millions of Dollars on that Jones thinks perpetuate homelessness, rather than solving it. Jones pointed out that city staff who get paid salaries to look after the homeless have an interest in perpetuating it in order to keep their jobs.
To solve homelessness Jones suggests to commit both the homeless as well as city staff to strict metrics and accountability with the goal to transition homeless people out of their situation and into a better situation.
Regarding police Jones pointed out that the city has not hired new police officers in years. According to Jones, Chandler Police is overstretched and so not enough officers are on the streets patrolling and too few detectives are solving cases. Jones suggests to up the pay and hire more officers.
Role of government and constitutional rights
Jones said that she is against mandates and against shutting down businesses or churches during a crisis, like the Covid crisis. Jones told us that she successfully enlisted the help of Governor Ducey to force the Phoenix Children's Hospital to allow clergy into the hospital to visit with children. Jones said her own daughter was in the hospital and was denied a visit by her Bishop. Jones said that after she and the Governor took action, Phoenix Children's reversed their policy and clergy are now allowed.
Jones says she is a strong conservative and that she opposes mandates such as mask and vaccine mandates. She also says she supports the second amendment and opposes a policy that allows the government to send 18 year old men to war, but prevents them from buying a firearm.
Non-discrimination ordinance, NDO
Regarding the non-discrimination ordinance, NDO, Jones has cited several reasons to justify her position on what she calls a controversial issue. Jones has cited the support of the Chandler Chamber of Commerce for the ordinance. She has also cited support by the business community itself though has not provided data on how many businesses actually support it. Finally Jones stated that if Chandler passes an NDO, then the pressure from Democrats to have it passed on the state level will ease.
Jones said that she hopes good people will be voted into city council position so that the NDO that is written is well thought out and favorable to the city. Incumbent mayor Kevin Hartke opposes the measure. It appears to be pushed mainly by council member OD Harris. All three Democratic council candidates - see below - support the NDO. There are only 2 Republicans running for the 3 available seats. Given that 2 of these 3 seats are being vacated by Republicans while Democrat Matt Orland is running for re-election, the risk of a Democrat take over of the Chandler City Council is significant. Jones declined to endorse any candidate for city council.
Ruth Jones is smart, well spoken and is raising many valid points and important issues. If the issues she's running on are voters' most important concerns remains to be seen. Until a few months ago Jones was quite active in speaking at board meetings of the Chandler Unified School District addressing issues such as sexually explicit materials being made available to students, and the budget. Although she did indicate in our interview that the city has influence over the school district, Jones has chosen to more or less ignore education in her campaign for mayor, despite this issue having become a winning one for Republicans.
In terms of political strategy, 2 of the 3 available Chandler City Council seats are currently being held by Republicans poised to retire. Chandler Republicans are only running 2 candidates for the 3 available city council spots: Farhana Shifa and Darla Gonzales, while Democrats run 3: Jane Poston, Angel Encinas and incumbent Matt Orlando. This means that Republicans are precluded from expanding their majority on the council and may actually lose it if their voters don't turn out on August 2 for the primaries. If a candidate gets more than 50% of the votes in the primaries, he or she is automatically elected and doesn't have to face a run-off in November. Poston, Orlando and Encinas appear to be running as a left-wing block and have been endorsed by the very liberal Chandler Chamber of Commerce as well as other groups such as Police and Fire Associations.
Yet, Republicans run 2 people for only 1 available spot for mayor, incumbent Kevin Hartke and newcomer Ruth Jones. Given Jones' inexperience in politics, perhaps a run for a council seat would have been a viable option and if successful would also have given her the ability to push for change. Jones told us that she had considered this option but decided that she is better suited for the post of mayor. A run for city council would have put Republicans in a better position to keep the city council in sensible Republican hands, rather than hand it over to Democrats who will probably proceed to write an NDO quite different from the one Jones envisions. They would be much more amenable to mask and vaccine mandates, may increase diversity, equity and inclusion DEI policies and possibly work to attract to Chandler illegal immigrants, more homeless and demographics that tend to vote for Democrats. This could be done for example by building lots of high density housing rather than spacious single family homes. They could also take a soft on crime stance that will drive Republican voters out of Chandler, cementing the take-over. Look to Tempe and Phoenix for examples of once beautiful cities that have at least in some parts become truly terrible under Democratic governance.