Edited from Arizona Capitol Times
Rep. Chester Crandell said he was surprised when the first question of the Oct. 2 Clean Elections debate of Legislative District 6 candidates was on Proposition 120, the ballot measure he sponsored and is advocating.
The measure seeks to declare the state’s sovereignty over its land and natural resources currently controlled by the federal government.
While it has garnered scant attention statewide and little in advocacy either way, it has become an issue in the LD 6 race.
The district contains areas of northern and eastern Arizona where recent wildfires have destroyed almost 1 million acres, most notably caused by catastrophic blazes in 2002 and 2011 that many have blamed on federal mismanagement of the forest.
Crandell, a Heber Republican, is running for the Senate against Rep. Tom Chabin, a Flagstaff Democrat. Crandell said his opponent is making the ballot measure an issue because he has no record to run on.
Chabin, on the other hand, said voters are really more interested in education and jobs, but Crandell is driving the issue.
The measure would amend the state Constitution to declare that Arizona has sovereign and exclusive authority and jurisdiction over the air, water, public lands, minerals, wildlife and other natural resources within its boundaries, except for Indian reservations and certain federal lands such as military bases.
Crandell introduced the referral, HCR2004, while Sen. Al Melvin, a Tucson Republican, introduced a similar measure that passed, but was vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer.