Election 2014: Activist now LD11 candidate

Vince Leach has been a political activist long enough, he figured it was time to take the next logical step and run for office.

Leach, 65, is running for a seat in the state House of Representatives in Legislative District 11. He’s teaming up with fellow Republican candidate Mark Finchem, as the two try to win both open House seats. Oro Valley resident Jo Grant is the third Republican in the race; Democrat Holly Lyon, also of Oro Valley, will await the two GOP winners in the general election.

As someone who worked in sales for his entire career, Leach said it’s easy for him to sell himself as a candidate. Many people in sales, he said, dread cold calls and having to approach people who they don’t know to try and sell a product the person knows nothing about.

“I have been blessed; I enjoy that – reaching out to new avenues, new people, new things,” he said. “The knocking on doors and going to meet-and-greets and meeting new people – I enjoy it.”

Anyone involved in the political scene in Pinal County has probably seen Leach. At any given time, he could be at a meeting for the Central Arizona College Governing Board, the Pinal County Board of Supervisors, a public hearing for the Arizona Corporation Commission or at a political forum.

Originally from central Wisconsin, Leach bought a home in Saddlebrooke, a northern suburb of Tucson, in 2007 and has lived there since 2009.

Leach was also involved locally as a precinct committeeman and as a board member of Saddlebrooke Two Property Owners, an advocacy group representing homeowners of a local HOA.

“I was quite happy being an activist,” he said, adding his wife encouraged him to run for public office, something he’d never done.

A shuffling of the GOP deck created an opening Leach couldn’t resist. With state Sen. Al Melvin (R-Saddlebrooke) running for governor, Rep. Steve Smith decided to run for Melvin’s seat in the State Legislature’s upper chamber. LD11’s other representative, Adam Kwasman (R-Oro Valley) is now running for Congressional District 1, which made two openings in the state House in LD11.

Leach, a military veteran who served in the Army from 1970-72, said he has three main priorities if elected – jobs, a smaller, less intrusive government, and fewer taxes.

Starting with jobs, he said the state unemployment rate is too high. He said the economy is rebounding, but it’s doing so too slowly.

Leach said Arizona has an $8.5 billion debt, which includes payouts of about $1 million a day in interest. That’s another reason why he’s pushing for more jobs, including projects like the Union Pacific Railroad switching yard at Red Rock.

One reason why Leach wants smaller government is because he said bureaucracy gets in the way of economic progress and even small businesses. He referenced the switching yard at Red Rock as an example – he said it’s taken more than seven years of “bureaucratic maneuvering” to get approval – along with an ophthalmologist he spoke to who has to rebuild his operating center, partly because of state regulations.

Leach said he’s less concerned with lowering taxes than he is expanding the tax base.

“We don’t need more taxes; we need more taxpayers,” he said. “If we put more people to work, so that they have an income, they’ll be paying more taxes.”

However, if and when the state becomes healthier financially, Leach said he would agree with things like eliminating corporate taxes to attract businesses.

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