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.
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.)
Instead of hosting a giant picnic at Reid Park with games, food, and networking, the Pima Area Labor Federation (PALF) joined other groups for seven days of protests against corporate tax giveaways, gentrification, and expansion of Tucson’s Central Business District this Labor Day week.
Barrio Neighborhood Coalition activists, PALF members, Mi Familia Vota, Jobs with Justice, college students, neighbors, Catholic workers, and other progressives turned out to protest the upcoming Tucson Mayor and Council decision on Sept. 9 regarding expansion of the Central Business District (CBD) and expansion of GPLET tax giveaways in the CBD.
The first protest was at the Ward 3 office in LD9. This office is located in the Opportunity Zone that conveniently runs along the path of destruction of the Grant Road Widening Project, which has been hanging in limbo for ~30 years just like the Broadway Blvd. Widening Project. In the days of increased online commuting, why are we knocking down all of the businesses on two major arteries, forcing businesses to move or close, and then incentivizing new businesses to go there? This is the ultimate in “picking winners and losers.” How is this friendly to local businesses when government forces many of them to go out of business or forces them to hang in limbo for decades while decisions are made in endless meetings, many of which are behind closed doors?
The Labor Day protest was at the Ward 6 office also in Midtown but in LD10. Approximately, 40 people came to that protest, including former City Councilwoman and former mayoral candidate Molly McKasson. She lost the mayoral race to Republican and former Raytheon executive Bob Walkup. Years ago in the Arizona Daily Star, Molly said, “It’s too bad Tucson decided to put all of its eggs in the developers’ basket.” Ten years or more later, that statement is prophetic.
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?!)
Thank you so much, LD9 voters, for making me the top vote-getter in the August 4 Primary Election, with 29,713 votes (50.7%).* Even though the LD9 House Democrats — Dr. Randy Friese and me — didn’t have a primary challenger, LD9 voters turned out the vote and heavily supported both incumbents over the General Election challenger. In November 6, 2018 election, Friese ended the night a few hundred votes ahead of me (less than 1%). This August, I’m a few hundred votes ahead of him … a statistical dead heat in both elections. Thanks for supporting both of us. I think we make a good team. Let’s do this again on November 3, 2020, LD9.
Another pleasant outcome on Tuesday was the substantial showing that both Friese and I made, compared to our Chamber-backed Republican challenger Brendan Lyons. I am currently beating Lyons by 11,608 and Friese by 822, as final votes are counted. Below is the full screen shot from the Secretary of State’s website as of today (August 11). Lyons has hired a large, out-of-state consulting firm to run his campaign to oust me from the Arizona House. In 2018, I beat my Democratic challenger by >14,000 votes and beat my Republican challenger by almost 13,000 votes. Bring it on.