The Copper Courier Voter Guide: Arizona’s 17th Legislative District

By Camaron Stevenson

September 14, 2020

2020 is an election year like no other. The Copper Courier has the information you need to participate in Arizona’s November election, no matter how you choose to do so. As part of our efforts to help voters feel informed as the November election approaches, we’re creating an overview of local races throughout the state, along with access to tools Arizonans need to find out how to vote, who will be on their ballot, and what they can do to participate in the upcoming election.

What’s My Legislative District | Am I Registered to Vote? | Full Voter Guide

Arizona House of Representatives

*Candidate bios have been written by the candidates and submitted to the Arizona Secretary of State.

Photo by Jennica E Maes

Jennifer Pawlik, D-Chandler

Key Issues


  • Supports increasing number of counselors on school campuses
  • Supports fully funding public schools


  •  Plans to work on clean water and air protections
  • Wants to see Arizona become leading state for solar power

Gun Reform

  • Wants to strengthen background checks on gun sales
  • Does not support arming teachers


Representative Jennifer Pawlik is a native Arizonan and a former elementary school teacher. She lives in Chandler with her husband, Jason, and is the mother of adult twin daughters.

Jennifer taught in Arizona’s public schools for seventeen years before leaving in 2016 to run for legislative office. Currently she teaches for NAU’s College of Education at Chandler Gilbert Community College.

At the legislature, Representative Pawlik serves on the House Education Committee and the House Judiciary Committee. She actively participates in the Community & Legislative Partners in Aging (senior caucus) and the Latino Caucus. In the community, Jennifer volunteers for the Chandler Unified’s bond committee, the Unite for Education bond & override committee for Gilbert Schools, and the Chandler Complete Count Census Committee. She serves as a precinct committee woman in the Emmett precinct.

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Jeff Weninger, R-Chandler

Key Issues


  • Supports increasing teacher pay
  • Supports school infrastructure funding
  • Voted to increase funding for technical education


  • Opposes increasing the minimum wage
  • Supports protects for businesses that deny services based on religious beliefs


  • Supports building a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border
  • Supports ban on sanctuary cities


Representing District 17, Jeff Weninger serves Gilbert, Sun Lakes and Chandler, where he lives with his wife, Janet, and their three children.

Jeff is an entrepreneur with multiple successful small businesses that he has owned and operated for over 20 years. He has employed hundreds of Arizonans, fed thousands, and contributed to the local economy. Jeff and his wife volunteer with charities benefiting children in crisis. As Chairman of the House Commerce Committee, Jeff has demonstrated his knowledge of issues facing small businesses and his ability to lead on critical issues, including regulatory reform, the creation of a business-friendly economy, access to capital for small businesses, and investment in our education system.

He believes that businesses need a 21st century workforce and that strong schools are essential to fulfilling that need. Jeff has championed critical legislation that encourages innovation, technology and growth. His goal is to eliminate overbearing regulations against small businesses to establish a common sense regulatory environment. Jeff takes the skillset and ingenuity he developed as an entrepreneur to the legislature each day.

Liz Harris, R-Chandler

Key Issues

Health Care

  • Believes employers should be able to opt out of providing contraception coverage as part of their health insurance plans

Gun Reform

  • Supports firearm sales without background checks
  • Supports concealed carry near schools and in public buildings


  • Opposes taxpayer-funded public education through college
  • Supports increasing teacher pay
  • Supports school choice


After moving to Chandler in the late-90s, Arizona is the place I call home. It’s an amazing state but the things that make it successful are under attack.

Ironically, liberals fleeing high-tax, high-regulation states are moving to low-tax, low-regulation states like Arizona, but they’re bringing their liberal policies and voting habits with them. We need to make sure we don’t let this leftward push ruin everything that’s working in Arizona. I’ll work to protect school choice, teacher pay increases, and strong K-12 support.

I’ll advocate for secure borders and the enforcement of our laws. I’ll work for a strong economy and safe neighborhoods. And I’ll oppose efforts to raise taxes or give government greater control over our lives and daily decisions. As a servant leader for the last several decades, I am committed to you and I will work tirelessly to get the job done! I’m a wife and mother, blessed with three great kids. I’ve worked in real estate for the last 15 years and have served in a variety of community and industry positions.

I ask for your vote so I can get to work with Jeff Weninger and do all I can for Arizona and our district!

*Editor’s Note: In an earlier edition of this story, the bio for an alternate candidate was incorrectly attributed to Liz Harris. We regret the error.

Arizona State Senate

Ajlan Kurdoglu, D-Chandler

Key issues

Health Care

  • Increase protections for Arizonans with pre-existing conditions
  • Expand access to mental health professionals


  • Prioritize policies that reduce carbon emissions
  • Protections for Arizona’s waterways and public lands


As a first-generation American, I have an immense love for our country and our state. I cherish the freedoms, opportunities, and quality of life our great country and Arizona offers. As an Arizonan, I do believe every one of us should have access to a great education, to a great healthcare system, and to thriving communities.

I am excited, motivated and ready to work together for these goals, for Arizona and for you. This is my American dream.

Photo by Gage Skidmore

J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler

Key Issues

Health Care

  • Supports a consumer-centric health care model that would remove government involvement in the industry
  • Opposes the Affordable Care Act


  • Expanded tax breaks for capital gains
  • Sponsored legislation to raise cap on state’s rainy day fund instead of spending tax dollars on underfunded programs


During my time in office I’ve written laws that helped create jobs, cut red tape for our small businesses and entrepreneurs, helped employees get wages rightfully owed, directed more money into classrooms, protected survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse, established safeguards to stop the financial exploitation of seniors, and promoted veteran-friendly college campuses.

For these efforts I’ve won Guardian of Small Business, Champion of the Taxpayer, Friend of the Family, and Open Government Leader awards. I even had the honor of being elected Arizona Speaker of the House, where I crafted good balanced budgets that reduced tax burdens while increasing school funding. I personally sponsored the largest education investment in state history, dramatically boosting teacher pay 20%.

As your current state senator, I wrote the bill authorizing more savings for the state’s rainy-day fund, which proved critical for this economic crisis, and pushed a resolution for greater border security. I’m asking for your vote to continue this important work.

If reelected, I’ll continue to keep an open door, put my constituents first, and use my diverse background that includes husband, father, professor and small business owner, with master’s degrees in business and public administration, to deliver for you.


  • Camaron Stevenson

    Camaron is the Founding Editor and Chief Political Correspondent for The Copper Courier, and has worked as a journalist in Phoenix for over a decade. He also teaches multimedia journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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