The 2018 elections showed that the Democratic Party has a groundswell of very talented individuals who want to serve the public.
In the increasingly purple Congressional District Six (a district that includes all or parts of Scottsdale, North Phoenix, Cave Creek, Fountain Hills, and Paradise Valley), Democrats will again have an embarrassment of riches to choose from as three (as of May 28, 2019) well-qualified individuals seek the Democratic nomination to run against ethically challenged and Republican reactionary David Schweikert. All three have run for Congress before. Anita Malik was the 2018 Democratic nominee for CD Six and has announced she is running again. Stephanie Rimmer, a person who ran for Congress when parts of CD Six were in what was CD Eight, has also declared her candidacy. The third candidate for the Democratic CD Six nomination is the 2018 Democratic nominee for CD Eight, Dr. Hiral Tipirneni.
As readers may recall, Dr. Tipirneni is an emergency room physician and cancer research advocate who has lived in Arizona with her family for the last 23 years. She came to state and national prominence in 2018 when she defied expectations and performed well in a heavily Republican district in two elections against Debbie Lesko for the CD Eight seat.
Tipirneni credited her strong performance in the heavily Republican CD 8 district to her and her team’s ability to reach out, connect with all members of the community, regardless of political party affiliation, and discuss real, data-driven solutions to problems that need to be addressed.
Living on the border of both CD 8 and CD 6 she and her largely new campaign team hope to use the same outreach to secure the Democratic nomination and defeat Mr. Schweikert in November 2020.
Dr. Tipirneni sat down and discussed her reasons for running and her views on the current issues of the day at the Humble Pie Pizzeria in Phoenix. The questions and Dr. Tipirneni’s responses are below.
1) Please explain the reason you have chosen to compete in Congressional District Six in 2020 as opposed to Congressional District Eight?
Dr. Tipirneni responded that the district “Line goes through my backyard. These are my neighbors. These are communities I know well and people throughout these communities have encouraged me to run. I am excited for the opportunity.” She also said that she wanted to run against David Schweikart for many reasons including his denial of climate change, his support for policies like tax cuts for major corporations the wealthy, and his record of voting against health care measures, including voting against protections for pre-existing conditions and lowering prescription drug prices.
2) In running again, what are the three major domestic issues you will center your campaign on?
a) “Health care and (the) rising costs and limited accessibility.” She feels her background as a medical physician gives her insight on how to compose “a strong plan on how to combat…. rising costs and limited accessibility.”
b) “Economic reform that includes tax reform and growth strategies.” She condemns the “current administration and Schweikert” for only helping the wealthy moneyed interests.
c) “Remove Dark Money from politics.”
3) In running again, what are the three major international issues you will center your campaign on?
a) “Strengthening relationship with allies that have suffered under Trump.”
b) “Making sure (the) global economy is addressed and holding China to account in a smart and thoughtful way (not the tariffs that have harmed farmers). Trade policies like (the) TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) should be reexamined as long as we are bettering economy and opportunity for our consumers, the American Workers, and others.”
c) “Get back in Paris Climate Agreement.”
4) With regards to health care, do you believe in Medicare for All or expanding the Affordable Care Act or another alternative?
“ We need universal coverage (quality affordable care) for all. We need a strong detailed plan that has a robust Public option that allows folks to buy into Medicare. I have put together a detailed plan that can be implemented immediately that borrows principles from both sides of the aisle.”
5) In your opinion, should the federal minimum wage go up to $15.00 an hour or be adjusted depending on the region of the country you live in?
“We should make sure wages are those that (people) can live on and their families can thrive on, and not just survive. (Wages for people) have to be considered in the environment of the communities they are in. This requires a comprehensive conversation with all local community stakeholders. And we must always take into consideration inflationary factors and the cost of living.”
6) Do you support the Green New Deal or another proposal (like those from Governor Inslee, Beto O’Rourke, or the advocates behind the Green Real Deal)?
“The climate crisis demands urgent action, and the Green New Deal has put a spotlight on that urgency. The actions of the Trump Administration have also forced us to have a very strong conversation about what to do (on the environment.) Arizona can be the leader on a robust renewable energy economy. We need to take the work we have already done in Arizona and take it to the next level on water conservation and solar energy and be a role model for the nation.”
7) What is your view on the moves towards clean elections and election security reform contained in HR 1?
“ I am a big believer in taking away Dark Money and making sure public servants are working for the district, and not Dirty Money interests. People are tired of corruption and want true public servants who are not beholden to their biggest donor, but rather to their constituents.”
8) What is your view on the rash of Anti Abortion Laws surfacing in many conservative states?
“We want to keep abortion safe and legal and protect a woman’s right to choose. And to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, we need to have access to safe, affordable contraception and comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education programs in schools.
I’m a physician. I come from a world of science and I have seen women make this heartbreaking decision. These are complex situations and it requires us to have respect for that. This is a decision that should be between a woman and her physician and her partner and her faith. There is no role for government in this decision.”
9) Do you think President Trump should be impeached and please give two reasons for your response?
“The Mueller Report is upsetting and disturbing. This has impacted the integrity of our Democracy and is a breach of our cybersecurity and sovereignty by a foreign adversary. No man or woman is above the law. We have to remember that there are three co-equal parts of government and full transparency is called for so that all Americans have full faith in our justice system. I leave it to the current (House Democratic) leadership to make the call. In the meantime, we can not allow it to distract us from working on other issues like health care and infrastructure.”
10) Is there anything you would like the readers to know about you or your candidacy that the above questions did not fully convey?
“I am a proud resident of Arizona for 23 years. I’m proud to have served my communities as an emergency doctor and cancer research advocate. That is what my life has been about; it’s been about solving problems and making lives better. It’s never been about partisanship, it has never been based on political affiliation. I want to speak for people of CD 6 and all Arizona families that don’t have a voice. It is my job to tell the voters about how my approach and views on public service are better than Mr. Schweikert. My approach has been on data-driven, implementable solutions, not ideology, and that attracts Republicans and Independents. I am excited to deliver that message to the community and I think what we were able to do in the past is show that my message resonated with voters all across the political spectrum. Finding common ground works. If I moved my mailbox 20 feet, would that change what I know about the community and what the people are feeling and my solutions? Of course not. I know these issues. I’ve talked to families all across this state, and I look forward to continuing that conversation.”
Dr. Hiral Tipirneni has demonstrated, through her performance in the campaigns for the more conservative-leaning CD Eight that she has a talent for connecting with community members of all political persuasions. Her message, especially with the ethical challenges Mr. Schweikert currently faces, should find a more receptive audience in the increasingly purple CD Six. She is a candidate voters should research and give thoughtful consideration to.