Believing that “change starts at the individual level, then the neighborhood, and then the community,” Legislative District 24 Candidate Denise Link, the only electoral contender this year that is both a nurse and teacher hopes to bring her nearly four decades of public service experience to the state legislature.
Over a fairly busy morning crowd at Lola’s Café, Ms. Link relayed how her vast experience helps make her one of the best candidates to assume one of the two LD 24 State House seats this November.
LD 24 encompasses all or part of Phoenix and Scottsdale. A reliably Democratic District, Republicans have not seen a victory here in several election cycles. There are seven Democrats, including an incumbent (Ken Clark) vying for the two state house seats in the primary election. Based on recent history, the results of the primary will undoubtedly decide which two candidates are seated in the legislature in January.
Who is Denise Link?
A native of New Jersey, Denise Link has been a board-certified nurse practitioner for almost four decades who specializes in women’s health. She is also a Clinical Professor at Arizona State University preparing nurses on how to practice and conduct themselves in their careers as nurse practitioners and health system change agents. Dr. Link (she has earned her Ph.D. in Nursing) taught nursing in community colleges in New Jersey. She has received many awards such as the Nurse of the Year on two occasions by the Arizona March of Dimes and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners Award for Excellence.
Over time, she became an advocate for patients and healthcare practitioners in the public policy arena serving on the Board of Nursing and other committees that interacted with state and national government legislators and figures. Through these interactions and experience, she helped “review and shape” legislation that pertained to clean air, healthy food, the ability for certified registered nurse anesthetist to administer anesthesia, and an expansion of the State Medicaid Program.
Calling herself a progressive who “would not compromise her principles,” Dr. Link believes that her experience has shown that she can “transfer” her skills as a teacher and nurse practitioner to the legislative arena. She believes she would excel because of her ability to analyze issues (its strengths and weaknesses, pros and cons, and evidence on both sides of the argument) and work across the aisle with all stakeholders and officeholders of both major parties and find that “spot on the Venn Diagram where we can agree” to solving the issues. This approach assisted her efforts in working with legislators in both parties to secure Medicaid expansion and the ability of nurses with advanced degrees to administer anesthesia.
In pursuing one of the two State House Seats in District 24, Dr. Link believes that health, education, public safety, and homelessness are the major issues that need immediate attention.
Where does Denise Link stand on the Issues?
Saying education “is the key to the American Dream” and “fundamental to our democracy,” Dr. Link supports the Invest in Ed Ballot Initiative and corporate tax reform as the key ingredients to providing a fully funded quality education program that will train the future scholars and workers schools and businesses want to hire to work and operate in Arizona.
She also believes that school curriculum and student achievement determination should not be dictated by solely the AZ Merit test or other standardized measures. She advocates other measures such as portfolio-project assessments.
She thinks Charter Schools may serve a need but need monitoring. Vouchers are unconstitutional and where is the taxpayer money coming from to pay for it?
University tuition for in-state students (including Dreamers), according to the Constitution, need to be as close to free as possible and community college tuition should be free. “One example of upstream investment” that will lower costs for university and community college can be “attained” up by fully funding K-12 Education where class sizes will decrease, resulting in fewer children needing remediation when they enter college.
Supports universal coverage through buying into the state Medicaid program. She also believes that loan forgiveness for health professionals would be a good strategy to recruit people to “underserved” areas that need greater health care access.
Immigration and Border Security
Dr. Link believes that comprehensive immigration reform is essential to solving any issues at all our borders. She also feels the federal and state governments should do more to combat the factors that lead to illegal immigration such as climate change, political persecution, and drug trafficking.
She believes that the parents of Dreamers should be allowed to stay in the United States as long as they are not disobeying the law.
She thinks a border wall is not the best method to secure the border and separating parents from children is not going to reduce illegal immigration.
The Economy and Jobs that Pay Well
She believes that people should work only one full-time job if they want and make a livable wage based on community standards of living. Human capital should be invested in areas like education and the social environment should be improved. Discriminatory laws should not be written and those that exist should be done away with.
She supports incentives for clean renewable energy, saying we should be the “Saudi Arabia of Solar Energy.” She believes solar is ascendant and the coal industry is wilting. Industries and consumers should be given incentives to develop and buy clean energy resources.
Roads: This is a great area to create jobs as roads need continual expansion, modernization, and maintenance.
Rail and Bussing: Advocates expanding light rail in the Phoenix Metro area. Would like to see more impact studies on a rail line connecting Tucson to Las Vegas. She also believes that areas that do not have access to bussing “could be served by “limited local” lines as is done in other large cities.”
Broadband: Another potential “job creator.” She wants broadband expanded to rural areas for needs such as online education, job searches, and Telehealth (online healthcare).
Water: “Our water policies are being reviewed by US and Mexican states that draw from the Colorado River. A drought contingency plan should be ready by the end of 2018 and presented to the legislature for discussion and vote in 2019. To accomplish that will take a commitment among the stakeholders and the legislature. While the details are still under discussion, it will likely include reducing water allocations from Lakes Mead and Powell to keep the water levels higher in those reservoirs. We should be increasing our use of underground water banking, where there is less water loss due to evaporation. We should continue to create incentives for industry and consumers to conserve water. Climate change is a significant contributor to the problem; as temperatures rise, evaporation increases so decreasing use of fossil fuels is important.”
Reducing Poverty and Homelessness
She proposes working with agencies that become aware of the people who are about to get evicted so they can work with the landlord on an arrangement. Greater mental health funding is needed. We should also find out what is the root cause of why the person is in that particular situation and fight it that way. Finally, there is nothing like good paying jobs and a quality education that answers the specter of poverty and homelessness.
Criminal Justice Reform
Private Prisons need to be abolished and the state needs to take them over. Marijuana possession and usage should be decriminalized and non-violent illegal immigrants should not be jailed.
She also believes that local police forces need to do something about excessive force because it makes it more dangerous for the police officers that do not cross the line. She believes more training for police forces will help.
Domestic violence and sexual assault in all instances need to be combatted.
Finally, people who are disabled are victims that need to be helped and measures adopted to prevent that. “There are high numbers of these crimes against disabled persons, Native American women and on college campuses.”
Gun and School Safety
Arizona needs legislation that provides for universal background checks “for any transaction,” gun usage training; secure gun storage, and the purchase of firearm insurance.
The above measures, along with early intervention in the community would lead to greater school safety. She opposes the arming of teachers.
Equal Rights Amendment
There should be “nondiscrimination across the board.”
A Woman’s Right to Choose
Supports a woman’s right to choose.
Dark Money and the War on Democracy
Dr. Link feels it is a sad testament to our times that the only way the people can get legislation they want to be passed is to go through the ballot process on measures like increasing education funding in a sustained way, securing clean energy initiatives, and “outlawing dirty money” because the state legislature is “tone deaf” to the desires of the people. She feels that we need to know what Dark Money interests are “paying for the message” the Republicans are spewing and the movement to suppress the ballot initiative.
Noticing that many voters have realized since the 2016 elections that they can no longer “sit on the sidelines,” Dr. Link has seen a dramatic increase in voter enthusiasm with attendance at Democratic events requiring larger venues than before.
With 12 dedicated volunteers, Dr. Link and her team regularly knock on doors and introduce her program to the community from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and during the day on weekends until it gets too hot. Her husband and family also spread her name around by driving the family-owned box truck that has her information plastered on it. Residents have commented, “you’re the lady with the truck.” They also have a presence on social media. The links to her sites (which detail her views and endorsements) are below. Her team also sets up house parties for her to speak at, sometimes in the gated communities, they live in.
While committing herself to continue nursing and teaching if she is elected in November, Dr. Link pledges to work very hard as a State Legislator, advancing the causes of social justice. With close to 40 years of experience serving the public as a nurse, teacher, and public advocate, she is a candidate voters should consider when voting this election year.