Nationwide and statewide, far too many women and their children are living in poverty. Those of you who follow my Legislative Updates and videos know that I have been beating the drum for improved maternal and child health and for tackling Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) like food, housing, and financial insecurity. During the pre-COVID19 pandemic, Arizona was #50 — worst in the country — for Adverse Childhood Experiences.
The Children’s Action Alliance (CAA), a watchdog group that lobbies the Legislature on behalf of children, recently published their 2020 Kids Count Book with data regarding the well-being of Arizona’s children. You can read the data book here. CAA also collects survey responses from candidates and electeds who are running for the Legislature. You can read the responses here.
In January 2021, when the Arizona Legislature goes back into session, we will be faced with major decisions in the wake of the COVID19 pandemic.
If Democrats take control of one or both chambers in the Legislature, it will be a New Day in Arizona, after 50 years of Republican control.
My goals for the future are to improve the public health and financial state of Arizona, as we rebuild from COVID19 or learn to live with it.
The post-COVID19 world will be different from “the before times” and hopefully better. In my opinion, the past will never return exactly as it was, and we have to plan for that. Travel, tourism, consumerism, healthcare, entertainment, K-12 schools, higher education, work life, prisons … many changes will come in these areas and others, whether we want substantive change or not.
Our job is to create the world we want. Here are some of my priorities for 2021 and beyond.
Sept. 15 was the date for the Legislative District 9 candidate debate hosted by the Citizens Clean Elections Commission (CCEC) and moderated by Hank Stephensen, LD9 resident and editor of the Captiol Times Yellow Sheet.
Due to the pandemic, the 2020 CCEC debates are being held online and not in person, as is the tradition. While we were waiting in the “green room” for the event to start, CCEC Executive Director Tom Collins said that the online debates have had much larger viewership than the in-person events, which is great news.
All three House candidates participated: incumbent Democratic Reps. Randy Friese and Pam Powers Hannley and Republican challenger Brendan Lyons. Unfortunately, Lyons’ schedule dictated a “hard stop” at 7 p.m., so our debate was truncated to one hour. Many audience questions were left unasked.
Below are the video time stamps for different questions, if you are interested in specific topics. Stephensen allows for more candidate interaction; check out the robust debates on unemployment insurance and how to pay for education.
Each election season, there is an endorsement process. Organizations, groups and causes conduct their endorsement processes differently. Some just hand out endorsements. Some require candidates to answer questions and do interviews.
Last week, the Arizona Daily Star conducted their endorsement interview with the three Legislative District 9 candidates: Democratic incumbent Reps. Randy Friese and Pamela Powers Hannley and Republican challenger Brendan Lyons. In the before times, these interviews were conducted behind closed doors with only Star personnel and candidates at the newspaper’s office. In the COVID19 era, the endorsement interview was an online forum with ~15 constituents and Star staff in the audience. Having even a handful of constituents “in the room, was a worthwhile addition. As you’ll see in the video, the people had good questions about reproductive choice, education funding and other topics.
The interview is an hour long. Pop some popcorn, pour your favorite beverage, and watch the video here. For your convenience, below are the question time stamps. (You can check out my other endorsements, honors and candidate statements here. Watch the whole collection of Star endorsement interviews here.)
The LD9 Town Hall on August 19 featured presentations by David Lujan of the Center for Economic Progress and Marilyn Rodriguez of Creosote Partners on the four Citizens Initiatives that have been battling in court to get on the November 2020 ballot.
All four initiatives — Invest in Ed (public education funding), Smart and Safe (legalization of adult use marijuana), Second Chances (prison and sentencing reform) and Healthcare Rising (stop surprise billing) — were challenged in court by those who profit from the current broken systems and want to protect those systems.
In the four videos, Lujan and Rodriguez do a great job of outlining the layers of legal challenges that each of the four Citizens Initiatives faced at the hands of Republican Legislators, the Chamber of Commerce, two retiring Pima County Democrats, and others who want to maintain the status quo in education funding, marijuana policing, prison sentences and time served, and privatized, for-profit healthcare.
It’s interesting to hear about the behind-the-scenes political maneuver by Republican Legislators and Ducey’s judges in an all-out attempt to keep all four of these initiatives off the ballot. As of this writing, Invest in Ed (Prop 208) and Smart and Safe (Prop 207) will be on the ballot. Second Chances was knocked off the ballot by separate legal challenges from retiring Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall and retiring Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez. (Why?!)
Today is primary day 2020, August 4. It’s obviously been a rough year for humanity with the COVID19 pandemic, which was made more deadly by bungled governmental responses worldwide.
The 2020 election — already historic in importance — is layered on top of a public health crisis of epic proportions.
Take a deep breath. We will get through this. As I have said many times, the world will be different at the end of Coronavirus tunnel. Our future is like a five-point Likert Scale, which ranges from Significantly Better than the “Before Times” to Significantly Worse, with a neutral/no change center choice. I don’t think “no change” is possible. Too many people have died. Too many broken systems have fallen apart. I strongly believe that it is up to those of us who were dissatisfied with the status quo before COVID19 to come together to envision and create a more equitable and more sustainable world — one based on respect, cooperation and environmental stewardship, rather than based on greed, power and profit.
PACs, SuperPACs, and wealthy Arizonans are spending heavily in the Legislative races in 2020 because they have gotten richer and more powerful while “small” government/big tax break Republicans have been in control. They really don’t like outspoken Clean Elections candidates like me because I don’t take dirty money or any PAC money. I vote on your behalf — not on behalf of wealthy donors, special interest groups or big corporations. I am the only person in the Arizona House who voted against every tax giveaway in the last four years because I believe the Arizona Legislature should fund the People’s To-Do List — education, healthcare, infrastructure, and safety and security — and not the corporate wish list. I can’t be bought, and they know it. That is why Big Money is playing in the LD9 race and bankrolling my young Republican, Chamber of Commerce opponent with tens of thousands of dollars in donations.
I beat all of my challengers by significant margins — Democrats and Republicans — in 2016 and 2018, and I plan to beat this guy, too, with your help.
A Time for Gratitude…
Right now, I’d like to take a few minutes for gratitude and thank the many volunteers, precinct committee members, petition signers, $5 donors, voters, and LD9 officers for helping me get on the ballot, helping my collect my Clean Elections $5 Qualifying Contributions, and offering encouraging words in virtual meetings and on social media.