Today’s video is about gratitude. It is a tribute to the women representatives who became my friends in the past four years but have now moved on to other career adventures or to the Senate.
Serving in the Legislature is a tough job. It’s good to have colleagues who have your back and who are willing to lend an ear. Thank you to former Reps. Isela Blanc, Gerae Peten, Winona Benally, Kirsten Engel (now a Senator) and Rosanna Rodriguez Gabaldon (now a Senator). Blanc, Peten, Benally and Engel were four of the eight “Feisty Freshmen” from 2017. Only four of us are still in the House: Reps. Kelli Butler, Mitzi Epstein, Athena Salman and me.
Many of us were elected in 2016 because we fully utilized social media and communicated with constituents regularly. In the House, we kept talking and Tweeting. The Republican men did everything they could think of to shut us up, but they were never successful.
We had strength in our solidarity and our speaking skills and our passion. Thank you for being there.
This video was originally published on Facebook on January 14, 2021.
The citizens of Arizona created the Citizens Clean Elections Commission (CCEC) and the process to run as a “clean” candidate in 1998. It was a reaction by the people of Arizona to widespread corruption in the Arizona Legislature, following the AZ Scam investigation.
Every year since then, Arizona Republicans have mounted an attack on Clean Elections. Heaven forbid … we should allow politicians to run for office on their ideas and values and deny big money donations.
Inauguration Day for the Arizona Legislature was January 11, 2021 — five days after the insurrection at the US Capitol.
Since the occupation of the nation’s Capitol, the Arizona Capitol has been surrounded by chain link fencing to protect us from armed threats from the outside. Unfortunately, inside, the threat of COVID19 is not being taken seriously, in my opinion. Although the Arizona House has a policy that says members, guests and staff must wear face masks, it was not enforced at all for Opening Day.
Even before COVID19, too many Arizonans were living with food, housing and economic insecurity. Under failed Republican leadership at the state and federal levels, the pandemic rages on and increases.
For the first time in 50 years, Arizona voters have the opportunity to shift the balance of power in the Arizona Legislature and hand the leadership to the Democrats.
Hmmm … 50 years of Republican control. Is that we are #50 in so many health and wellness categories — like adverse childhood experiences?
I grew up in Amherst, Ohio, a small town on the banks of Lake Erie. Although we lived modestly in a tiny house, we always food on the table and a roof over our heads.
Both of my parents worked in unionized factories, and my Dad was a member of the United Steel Workers. My family always had union benefits like full time work, decent wages, health insurance, paid sick leave, paid vacation, pensions, and affordable college for my brother and me.
Thousands of Arizona children don’t have these basic benefits that I grew up with.
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.