On Election Day next month, one statewide candidate doesn’t have much to worry about. Republican Paul Marsh, the state mine inspector, faces no opposition on the ballot in the general election. Although Democrat Trista di Genova is a write-in candidate for the position, she faces long odds.
Courtesy of Paul Marsh for Mine Inspector
Arizona is the only state that elects a mine inspector, reflecting the Progressive Era principles of its constitution and the importance of mining to the Copper State. When Arizona transitioned from a territory to a state in 1912, the state constitution established the position, which is elected by voters every four years.
Article 19 of the Arizona constitution establishes the position, and what its duties entail. Here are a couple of excerpts:
- The Mine Inspector is empowered to execute “laws… regulating the operation and equipment of all mines in the state as to provide for the health and safety of workers therein…”
- In 1992, the Article was amended to limit Mine Inspectors to four consecutive terms.
In November 2021, Governor Doug Ducey appointed Marsh to the position upon Joe Hart’s retirement. Prior to his appointment, Marsh had a career spanning more than 25 years in the mining sector, with an emphasis on safety operations and safety management. Marsh developed his experience in heavy equipment operations and safety operations during his seven years’ service in the United States Marine Corps Reserve.
“Arizona has over 100,000 active and abandoned mines. As a Mine Inspector, my job is to keep you safe,” Paul Marsh said. Marsh’s stated priorities include accountability, integrity, and protection. The mine inspector is tasked with scrutinizing mines and providing safety for mine workers and Arizona citizens, making protection one of the most important aspects of his job.
His job is a big one, especially considering that Arizona is a major producer of mining products, leading the nation in copper and gold production. A recent report from the United States Geological Survey said, “Arizona is producing 9.96 billions of non-fuel minerals, making Arizona the top producing state in 2021. 852,000 tons of mined in Arizona is 2021 71% of U.S. domestic copper production.”
The mining industry contributes to the overall economic advancement of Arizona, by creating highly paid jobs for Arizonians As of Oct 12, 2022, the average annual pay for the Mining jobs category in Arizona is $79,639 a year. In this year alone, mining and quarrying contributed $10.282 billion to the (Gross Domestic Product) of Arizona.
By 2050, mineral demands are anticipated to increase by up to 1,000%. Automobile manufacturers intend to invest $300 billion globally to create new electric vehicles within the next decade.
All of this suggests that mining continues to play an important role in Arizona’s economy, providing the basic materials that serve as the building blocks for infrastructure, innovation, and economic growth in the state.