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1st Congressional District Profiles: Sydney Hay Continues Work for Government Reform

Barry Goldwater Jr. and Sydney Hay in Prescott

By Theresa Bierer

Flagstaff, AZ – Sydney Hay is campaigning on what she calls a record of experience making change in Arizona. Now, she wants to bring that change to Washington. Hay often says that she is not just running for Congress; she's running against Congress.

"I believe Washington D.C. is broken and Congress has really let us down. I think I can make a change in Washington for the future of this country and for my kids and grandkids," Hay said.

Hay is a longtime lobbyist and president of the Arizona Mining Association. She's also a former school teacher. Darcy Olsen is president of the Goldwater Institute, a conservative think tank. Olsen credits Hay with major changes in education.

"Sydney is not just one of Arizona's most prominent education reform advocates, but also really one of the nation's. She is the woman who developed and led the legislative strategy to pass Arizona's landmark tuition tax credit bill years ago, which is the one which gave Arizona parents more education options," Olsen said.

Olsen said Hay also helped spearhead the charter school movement in Arizona. In the 1980s, Hay also worked on Arizona tax reform. Hay said lawmakers were raising taxes year after year until she lobbied for change.

"I got together with some friends, we put together an initiative, went and got all those signatures gathered, and we changed our state constitution to make it tougher to raise state taxes. They can still raise taxes in an emergency if they get a two-thirds majority. That's interesting that in 15 years there's never been that type of an emergency," Hay said.

Hay has been endorsed by all three Arizona Republican congressmen seeking reelection, including Jeff Flake, John Shadegg, and Trent Franks, who represents the 2nd District, which includes Kingman and the Hopi reservation.

"I think Sidney Hay is someone who reflects the Republican Party platform as well as anybody I've ever met. She's a perfect fit for the district. I endorse her wholeheartedly, without any hesitation of any kind," Franks said.

Franks says he thinks Hay will win the primary because she identifies with the many rural residents of the 1st Congressional District.

"I think it's an ideal district for her, and I think she'll get an awful lot of conservative Democrats and even some moderate Democrats who will cross over and vote for her. They know her word is gold, and they know she is a solid, honest, decent person that's going to represent them with great honor and integrity in Congress," Franks said.

One of Hay's main campaign issues is energy independence, as she explains in a TV ad running across the district.

Hay thinks the U.S. should increase offshore drilling and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She also wants to tap reserves in Colorado and Wyoming. She says more oil exploration is critical to stimulate the economy.

"We can not stifle our economy that way and hope to be able to afford the great progress we're making on wind and solar and other renewables. It's an important issue, and I want to take it on and get Congress to get their act together and put away the hyper-partisanship and come up with these real solutions so we can transition into what we all hope is a future that is completely lessened on dependence on foreign sources for energy," Hay said.

Hay says investing in renewable energy requires bipartisan support, and while she calls herself a representative of conservative values, she says she also recognizes the need to reach across party lines to create meaningful change.