Letter from the Chair - April 17, 2022
Welcome to another week of relentless bad news here and abroad while our legislature has gone “radio silent”. Brace yourselves. Nothing good comes out of a session where Democrats are shut out of the process and a LOT of money is at stake.
Republicans Determined to Defund Public Schools
The Arizona Mirror published an opinion piece this week describing just how much our Republican legislature loathes the idea of investing in education. This short, succinct piece clearly explains where we are and how we got to this point - with a record $5.6 billion in cash on hand and no interest at all in using $900 million of it to bring Arizona’s per-student funding above its bottom ranking in the country.
This is one of many reasons why our 2022 election is so crucial. The stakes could not be higher. We’ve seen repeatedly the dysfunction of a legislature with a single vote majority in each chamber. Republicans have controlled the AZ legislature since the 1960s. Enough is enough.
There were about 1500 bills introduced during this legislative session. Less than a dozen of the total passed were from Democrats. Less than a dozen. Not a typo.
Fair Elections Initiative
Hey, Field Directors! Want to put together a local canvass? Grab some Fair Elections petitions and get some signatures.
The enterprising folks at Arizona Deserves Better and the Arizona Democracy Collaborative seek to reverse the tide of voter suppression bills by assembling a collection of them into one initiative. You’ll find a great summary of this here.
While a lot of us suffer from ‘initiative fatigue’ and feel like we’re just playing ‘Whack a Mole’ when it comes to reversing bad laws, we can choose instead to be grateful to the framers of Arizona’s Constitution who didn’t entrust the legislature with full authority for law-making. They were the ones who made sure that laws could be proposed by citizens and subject to a vote.
To learn more about this initiative and get petitions, go to Arizonans for Fair Elections. These are easy conversations to have with voters. Most voters think that voting should be easier not harder, despite loud voices to the contrary.
On to This Week’s Local Candidate
Welcome to this month’s message: “Our influence is local”.
In LD23, we had success in electing school board candidates and candidates for our city and town councils for several reasons. A big one is because LD23 got behind these candidates. We had them on our slate cards. We featured them at LD meetings. We phone banked for them and we dropped their literature. We made sure voters knew about them and how important their races are to each and every one of us.
It can be difficult to get voters interested in these races; they pay little attention to local government and often don’t vote that far down their ballots. This gives us an opportunity: EVERY vote for EVERY local candidate takes on greater weight and becomes even more important. All we need to do is cast them.
If we can improve voter participation in down-ballot races such as these, we’ll elect more like-minded people. Every single one of us needs to vote all the way down our ballots. Instead of leaving votes on the table, let’s put them to work electing Democrats and getting our values into the public debate more often.
A local office holder who has been successful getting her values into the public debate and into the public square is Scottsdale’s Solange Whitehead. Elected in 2018, Solange has made her mark by living the values that are widely shared among Scottsdale voters - protecting Scottsdale’s unique character, adding more parks and open spaces, ensuring higher design standards and lower heights for new buildings.
Solange serves citizens, not special interest groups and her council work often finds her delicately balancing the needs of citizens with the interests of developers. These conflicting priorities make council service a tough job.
Still, Solange works hard to get the best deal for the city AND its citizens. It takes time, dedication and a determination to stay the course until the deal is done. She does her absolute best to find a way and as she would put it, “For best results, listen more.”
To learn more about Solange Whitehead, visit her website: solangeforscottsdale.com. While you're there, make a donation.
That’s it for this week. Don’t give up. Stay engaged. And, most important, stay safe and stay healthy.