A former Air Force veteran, union steward, and postmaster from the Chicago area, LD 11 State Senate Clean Elections Candidate Ralph Atchue has launched a grassroots campaign pledging to be a consensus builder.
Atchue advocates a robust forward-looking program that includes investments in public education, comprehensive tax reform, green energy, and transportation innovations like a high-speed rail line from Tucson to Phoenix and later Las Vegas.
Gaining perspective on the competing positions from both labor as a union steward and management as a postmaster general, Atchue sees himself (unlike his opponent for the State Senate, Vince Leach) as a problem solver who can forge inclusive consensus among all stakeholders by bringing them together, discussing the issues, and arriving at compromise solutions that will be agreeable to all parties.
By prioritizing progress, individuals, families, and small businesses, Atchue believes that the residents of LD 11 will be better served that way rather than emphasizing the reactionary and obstructionist interests of the Dark Money groups that Leach subscribes to. (See AZ’s Worst Legislator: Vince Leach, not a Servant of the People in LD 11)
Seeing himself as an open-minded problem solver rather than being tied to any ideological program, Atchue’s campaign looks to attract all parties: Democrats, Independents, and Republicans who want common sense solutions that provide for the greater long-term good of the district. Independents and Republicans have joined Democrats in volunteering to help his campaign as they strive to knock on 2,000 doors a month to bring the candidates inclusive message.
Atchue’s positions on the issues are as follows:
Atchue supports full and comprehensive funding for K-12 Education. His first choice for funding this is comprehensive tax reform and the closing of corporate and other tax loopholes that benefit the patrons of Leach, namely Dark Money interests. He will support the Invest in Ed ballot initiative if it passes this November but realizes more funding is necessary even if it succeeds.
He does not support the expansion of private school vouchers and is against Proposition 305. His opponent holds the opposite position. He believes there needs to be greater accountability and transparency with charter schools. His opponent does not think this is necessary.
Atchue believes state lawmakers are in violation of the State Constitution for not ensuring as free an in-state college and university tuition as possible for state residents. His opponent does not.
He also believes Dreamers that have graduated from Arizona High Schools should get in-state tuition at our colleges and universities. His opponent holds the opposite viewpoint.
Atchue does not support the state funding of the Conservative focused Koch backed “Freedom” Centers at University of Arizona and Arizona State University.
Atchue, unlike his opponent and his legislative record, believes Dark Money should be outlawed. He is in favor of the Outlaw Dirty Money initiative and supports the Clean Elections Commission.
Using Tucson Electric Power (T.E.P.) as a model for its commitment to using green energy sources for 30 percent of its power (unlike APS), Atchue believes in forging a consensus between the utility companies and legislature to arrive at green energy infrastructure solutions to our energy needs. He believes green is the future, unlike his opponent who still clings to the dirty coal and fossil fuel industries.
The Economy and Jobs
Unlike his opponent, Atchue does not pray to the gospel of Trickle Down Economics, which has been discredited in states like Kansas and also Arizona (as evidenced by our state having the lowest growth among the nine western states and an unemployment rate higher than the national average).
He feels that the state’s tax system, with its emphasis on low corporate taxes and high regressive sales taxes, needs comprehensive reform in all areas.
Feeling that the owner and workers come to states, not because of the tax rate, but for the quality of its schools, he sees education as the gateway to opportunity and he calls for investments in K12 education, including tech schools, and universities.
Finally, believing that “repairing and investing in the high-tech industry that will bring the tech for tomorrow,” he is a proponent of major investments in infrastructure such as broadband Wi-Di, high-speed and light rail, and green energy.
Rather than “sticking” cities and towns with the bill for infrastructure projects (roads and highways for example) that largely have to be paid through regressive sales taxes (Eloy, for example, has a 13% sales tax), Atchue advocates the state taking their full responsibility in this area. He favors investments in broadband Wi-Fi, green energy, and high-speed rail from Tucson to Phoenix and eventually Las Vegas.
Furthermore, he would, unlike his opponent, not coddle to the real estate developer lobby and take a pragmatic and studious look at residential, commercial, and urban development with special attention to our environment and water supply needs.
Minimum and Living Wage
He believes that if a person works 40 hours a week, that individual should make a wage that they can live on. His opponent has looked to stifle future citizen ballot initiatives like the minimum wage measure of 2016 so it could not happen again. Atchue (and the historical data backs him up) does not believe the Republican talking point that higher minimum wages lead to higher unemployment.
The Poor and Homeless
He believes that accessible and inexpensive public and university education is the main ticket out of poverty. He also believes a minimum wage that allows people to live on their own would be a way to reduce poverty as well. He would not “support the cut-off of unemployment benefits after four weeks for failure to take any job at all regardless of pay.” He would also “support the state legislature partnering with local NGO’s and clergy to discuss ways to work on these chronic issues.”
He believes in Medicaid for All by enrolling in the state-run ACCHS program. His opponent believes in dismantling Obamacare and making it harder for people to get high quality and affordable health care.
Equal Rights Amendment
He supports equal rights and pay for everyone.
He supports rights for this community and this includes marriage, adoptions, jobs, pay, and housing. His opponent is not as enlightened in this area.
A Women’s Right to Choose
He supports it and is in the process of being endorsed by Planned Parenthood. He also believes sex education should be offered at school instead of abstinence programs. His opponent is anti-choice and is rather ambiguous on what his position of protecting and defending “life” entails after a child is born.
Atchue believes that Dreamers and their families should have a path to citizenship and receive it as long as they have not committed any crimes. He also believes that processing for legal immigrant applicants should be accelerated. His opponent feels that border security (where illegal crossings reached a record low level in the Obama Administration) should be settled first with the false security in the construction of a wall before discussing whom he calls “illegal aliens.”
Endorsed by No NRA Money and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, he is in favor of closing all gun show loopholes, updated and fuller background checks, the outlawing of bump stocks, raising the minimum age to buy weapons to 21, increased investments in mental health, and home security measures that penalize residents for letting their weapons get in the hands of children or others when it is not theft.
His opponent does not have the endorsement of these organizations nor does he hold these common-sense gun control positions.
In schools, Atchue supports increased school safety training and drills for all school stakeholders. He favors increased funding to enable educators to identify and track potential issues with members of the student body. He also favors funding to redesign and renovate schools to make them safer. He thinks bringing in members of the community like the clergy and small business owners would be instrumental in combatting this issue and identifying possible dangers. Finally, he feels “whistleblowers” should be commended and not stigmatized.
While the guilty should be punished for their crimes, Atchue feels that the priorities of the criminal justice system should be rearranged citing that many in prison are incarcerated for drug use. He also thinks private prisons should be regularly audited to check for corruption and misuse of funds.
Before Donald Trump’s false assertions that Atchue’s opponent supports, illegal border crossings during the Obama Administration were at a record low level and border patrols had been increased (also under Obama). Atchue believes in a strong border that employs technology like drone detectors and the construction of more border patrol stations rather than a wall. He does not believe militarizing the border is necessary.
Undue Influence of Non-Democratic Elements
Atchue is also running to combat the undue vindictive influence his opponent has waged against the people in favor of Dark Money interests. Leach has sponsored legislation that protects non-disclosure of lobbying groups. Leach has tried to advance these Dark Money interests by suppressing democratic mechanisms like requiring more signatures on citizens ballot initiatives or restricting the number of locations for early voting. Atchue is for an open democratic process with clean elections and full disclosure of all campaign contributions.
Seeing a grassroots political terrain that has surged since President Trump’s inauguration in January, 2017, Atchue and his team (including 250, mainly younger volunteers composed of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans) have worked hard in knocking on the doors of constituents in the LD 11 area that include Maricopa, Arizona City, Eloy, Casa Grande, Marana, Oro Valley, Catalina, and the northern tip of Tucson.
Also using the engines of social media to create their own Blue Wave now, the Atchue team is conveying the message of consensus building, prioritizing families and small businesses, the place and importance of local government in making decisions not countermanded by reactionary elements in the state government that go against common sense and progress, and the power of the people and clean elections over Dark Money lobbying oligarchs.
With frustration with the increasingly out of touch reactionary views of the Republican Party in local, state, and national houses, Atchue’s proposals and appeals for consensus and building solutions among all stakeholders, in sharp contrast to his opponent, warrant consideration in this election year.