[Q&A] by Phil Riske | Managing Editor
The former state Senate President, who was elected secretary of state, but lost a bid for governor in 2014, Ken Bennett is now employed by the Arizona Supreme Court. Rose Law Group Reporter interviewed him recently by e-mail.
What are you working on at the court? I am working in the Government Affairs Group with Jerry Landau and Amy Love. We monitor legislation and budget decisions that affect the court system. My emphasis is on budgetary matters, including helping identify areas where we can be more efficient, but also helping legislators understand how the court budget works and where we can cut and where we can’t.
What are your observations of legislative actions since you left the Senate? It was painful to watch the economy and some decisions during Governor Napolitano’s last couple of years put the state in such a fiscal crisis, from which we still haven’t recovered. Some could not have been avoided, but much of it could have been. We also missed (and continue to miss) an opportunity to restructure our tax revenue system, which would help us grow the economy faster and smooth out wild fluctuations in our revenues and spending.
What was your most important accomplishment as secretary of state? Building strong working relationships with the counties and a service-first attitude throughout the office.
Did you choose to run for that office with the thought it could enhance a gubernatorial run?No, I was appointed to finish Secretary Brewer’s term. Running for re-election was an easy decision because I was enjoying the job and I felt we were adding value to the state. Becoming governor is always in the back of your mind when you’re in the #2 position, but, as we experienced, that’s never a sure thing.
Why did Ducey win? Resources and relationships. He did a very good job of building a network of political and financial supporters. That added to his personal resources allowed him to sell a sound and winning message: improving education and the economy.
Do you think you’ll ever seek public office again? Yes. I enjoy public service, and I think I can provide leadership and add value in several potential levels.
Do you still have involvement in the energy business? Not right now. I sold my interest in our family’s fuel company (Bennett Oil) before I ran for governor. I am still involved in the energy-efficient building technology company.
What’s your take on the fight between utilities and the solar industry over rooftop solar taxes? Do you support such taxes or fees? New technology is disrupting long-standing assumptions, structures and processes. Some fee to maintain the grid is reasonable, and the [Arizona Corporation Commission] will eventually find a fair balance, but we should rethink if/why things need to be as regulated as they once were.