Arizona Legislative District (LD) Two, an area that includes most of the I-19 corridor from Tucson to Nogales, has been a predominantly blue district in recent memory.
It will likely remain so after the 2020 elections.
The question for the residents in LD Two is which Democrats will serve in the State House.
There are three Democratic candidates running for the two-State House Seats in LD Two.
State Representative Rosanna Gabaldon and State Senator Andrea Dalessandro are both attempting to successfully switch legislative chairs with the later vying for one of the two State House seats.
Fellow Incumbent Daniel Hernandez is also running for reelection to the State House.
The third Democratic candidate for one of the State House seats is political newcomer Billy Peard.
An attorney who has specialized in constitutional, civil rights, and immigration law, Mr. Peard has worked with former Representative Jim Kolbe and the American Civil Liberties Union in Southeastern Arizona, Peard wants to serve all the people and ably represent the urban, suburban, and rural communities of LD Two.
Mr. Peard took time to discuss his qualifications for the State House and his stand on the issues facing Arizona.
The questions and his responses are below.
- Please tell the reader about yourself (education and experiences).
“I was raised in Southern Arizona; I graduated from (CDO) Canyon Del Oro High School. I was appointed by Congressman Jim Kolbe to serve as a Congressional Paige in Washington for one year. I arrived in Washington at age 16 on September 2, 2001. I was there on the hill during and after 9/11. That was a formative experience for me and served as a motivating factor for running for office. I finished high school and went to college in North Carolina (Warren Wilson) and stayed on the east coast for 14 years. After college, worked again for Representative Kolbe at a think tank after he retired (The German Marshall Fund: focusing on Trans Atlantic Partnership). I spent time living in Central America where I learned to speak Spanish. Then I went to law school in Vermont, which specialized, in environmental issues. I am running on a strong environmental agenda. In Georgia and Massachusetts, I worked as an attorney where I represented farmworkers who were seeking back pay from their abusive employers. I practiced public interest law in New England. I came back to Arizona in early 017 thanks to Trump’s election. I was the staff attorney for the ACLU in Southern Arizona. I have left that position almost a year ago to run full time.”
- Please tell the reader what are at least three qualifications you have for the Legislative seat you are seeking.
“I am a lawyer. I am not running so I can be a placeholder. I am running to propose and craft legislation. The legal training helps. I have experience looking to craft solutions. I have empathy and know-how to address people’s concerns even if I do not agree with them. My first mentor was a Republican (Kolbe) who taught me the value of doing the people’s business. Finally, I understand the rural communities I will represent. We need to boost rural turnout as well as other demographic groups among Democrats.”
- What are at least two reasons you would be a better public servant than your likely Republican opponent?
“We need to keep the legislative district in Democratic hands because of top issues like education, immigration, and wealth inequality.”
- If elected, please describe the top two education issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“Closing tax loopholes and exemptions over the last ten years to help fully fund education. We may have to litigate to see if supermajority is needed to repeal. We need to stop the school to prison pipeline when we have children of color being disproportionately put in jails. I am also for charter school enrollment practice reform and stricter oversight. I support the new Invest in Ed ballot initiative. I support rural broadband for K-12 schools. I support apprenticeship programs for high school and non-four-year degree programs, especially those that will fit the needs of the community like in the produce industry. I support full-day and if possible, free Kindergarten and Pre K especially considering the costs otherwise for middle and low-income families and long-tern socio-economic benefits. We also have the worst student to counselor ratio in the nation and we need to reduce that to help student’s mental development.”
- If elected, please describe the top two healthcare issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“Kids Care should be expanded including dental care for children. People applying for ACCCHS should not have to feel like second-class citizens. The Community Health Centers like the one in Santa Cruz need to be helped and maintained and supplemented with state funding. I think Telehealth (where Tucson doctors helped create it) can be helpful for some in rural areas. More funds also need to be allocated for mental health services for the state’s citizens and not substitute jails for mental health facilities.”
- If elected, please describe the top two sustainability issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“Water needs to be a top-line issue. Current legislators are treating this with inadequate urgency. If you owned the land and had a pump to suck the water out, then it does not matter the impact to your neighbors. Groundwater Act of 1980 was a landmark piece of legislation where certain parts of the state have to follow safe yield (taking out no more water than is needed). This needs to be extended to more parts of the state where wells are going dry.”
“We have to talk about climate change and how it is connected with water scarcity. We have to talk about the rising temperatures and accompanying heat deaths thanks to the effects of climate change. We need to stop the influence of money and corruption into Government and the Corporation Commission that is hindering solar and wind development. It is not appropriate for companies like APS to contribute to political races.”
“We need to reduce high greenhouse gas emissions and this can be done with little tax expenditure.”
“With regards to air conditioning consumption, we need to do cost-efficient things like tree (desert adaptable) plantings in strategic places around homes that reduce high temperatures around the home.”
- If elected, please describe the top two helping children issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“Kids Care and K-12 Funding expansion.”
- If elected, please describe the top two helping the most vulnerable issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“One thing that is never talked about is how we treat workers and income inequality. We have a huge problem with non-compliance from employers on workplace laws and wage theft like not paying for overtime. The Arizona Industrial Commission, the ones that enforce the labor laws only has three employees for the whole state.”
“I am a former legal aid attorney that has helped low-income workers. I want state funding of legal aid programs other than federal grants so more of that to help people get out of poverty like getting benefits restored or child support payments or immigration status.”
- If elected, please describe the top two law enforcement issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“State Law on who can become a law enforcement officer should be reformed at the state level where diversity and the cultural values of 2020 can be encouraged. Also, mistakes such as being a former drug user like marijuana should not be a disqualifier as long as they have cleaned up their act.”
“SB 1070: We need to get rid of it.”
- If elected, please describe the top two immigration issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
1) “Eliminate SB 1070.”
2) “Drivers licenses should be given to qualifying undocumented immigrants.”
3) “There should be a federal role to secure the borders without destroying the economies of border towns with ports of entry like Nogales who have thrived on the multinational interaction. We should also look more closely on how we operate border checkpoints and criteria the state government is granting to the border patrol and the civil rights violations that do at times occur.”
- If elected, please describe the top issues facing women, minorities, and the LGBTQ communities that you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“We need to have a no discrimination law in the workforce. We ought to have a state-level equal pay law. We ought to allow employees to share their salary information. We need to foster more programs to help domestic violence victims with the police departments.”
- If elected, please describe the top two government reform issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“We should increase the number of state legislators and districts from 60 to 120 and 30 to 60 for the seven million (Massachusetts has about 160) Arizona residents. What that does is rural communities are able to elect people from their own area.)
“We need to expand the electorate. We need to reduce or eliminate felon disenfranchisement.”
“I am in support of Outlaw Dirty Money.”
“We also need to shore up our election security and safeguarding voting rights (I call it the Arizona Voting Rights Act.)”
For more information on Mr. Peard and his candidacy, please click on his website here.