Category Archives: Political Events

Propositions 305 and InvestInEd Divide Candidates for Superintendent of Public Instruction

Republican Candidates for Superintendent of Public Instruction (from right to left) Diane Douglas, Jonathan Gelbart, Tracy Livingston, Bob Branch, and Frank Riggs at the Arizona Republic sponsored debate; photo courtesy of Az Central

The Republican and Democratic positions on what good government towards education looks like were on full display when the Arizona Republic hosted (by reporter Richard Ruelas) candidate debates among the individuals from both parties vying to be the Superintendent of Public Instruction starting January 2019. While the Republican candidates revealed extreme right wing views on issues like Red for Ed, district consolidation, and the new science standards (feel free to access the link to the debates below) this piece focuses on the issues asked of the candidates of both parties: their views on Private School Voucher expansion (Proposition 305) and Invest in Ed.

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Democrat Steve Farley’s Economic Recovery Plan


Governor candidate Steve Farley’s serious and sober ad is aimed at the age 50+ voters who dominate Tucson politics. Below is his playful 30-second TV ad is aimed at a diverse, Millennial audience and pokes fun at his political nerdiness. “I’m a policy wonk,” he says. 

A few years ago two companies with 3,000 jobs apiece considered relocating to Arizona. They liked the climate and the natural beauty of the state but saw two things they didn’t like and rejected Arizona. They were aware of the corporate tax breaks created by our Republican Governor, but they didn’t care about that. “That was way down the list,” they told interviewers later.

Company executives said Arizona had two big negatives — the lack of a sustainable workforce and the absence of a long-term commitment to funding public education. The GOP Governor had slashed funding to state universities, community colleges, and grade schools to pay for the corporate tax breaks, and the strategy is an economic disaster.

“This is why Amazon did not consider Arizona as a location, and why Intel has said publicly it wouldn’t be here if it didn’t have so much stranded capital at its Chandler campus,” says Steve Farley, Democratic candidate for Governor. He spoke at a rousing meeting of the Democrats of Greater Tucson.

Failed Republican economic strategy
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Democratic Senate Candidate Elizabeth Brown Will Fully Fund Education

Democratic LD 12 Senate Candidate Elizabeth Brown

Over beverages at the IHOP at Sossaman and Baseline in Gilbert, Clean Elections Legislative District 12 Senate Candidate Elizabeth Brown conveyed the reasons she is making a second run for the State Senate after losing to Warren Pedersen in 2016. Ms. Brown is an experienced public servant whose campaign message centers on four themes. These are:

  • Promoting public education.
  • Protecting our environment.
  • Modernizing and expanding our local and state Infrastructure.
  • Guaranteeing ethics and equality for all.

Arizona LD 12 (see map) includes parts or all of Gilbert, Queen Creek, and San Tan Valley. This has normally been a reliable Republican district that has attracted minimal Democratic opposition in the past. In 2012, Republican Andy Biggs ran unopposed for this Senate seat. Ms. Brown did lose to Mr. Pedersen in 2016. However, Democratic enthusiasm has surged since 2016. There are three able and energized Democrats vying for the two State House seats and Ms. Brown seeks to ride that momentum to a Senate victory this November. A progressive, she feels that “if people would just take the “D” and “R” away and people see what I stand for, the people would see a lot of common ground with my positions.”

Who is Elizabeth Brown?

A former drama teacher, Ms. Brown, a wife, and mother of two daughters is an experienced public servant whose experiences start in 2004 when she volunteered for the Kerry and Edwards campaign. From 2004 to 2008 she worked for the Maricopa County Democratic Party as an office manager and executive assistant whose main responsibility was to recruit volunteers and assist legislative district chairs. She worked in Governor Napolitano’s and Governor Brewer’s office in the Constituent Services Department, observing how policies were formulated. Afterward, she was an assistant to former State Senator Barb McGuire and saw how bills were written. She also saw Republican heavy-handedness in burying Democratic bills and, later, constitutional amendments like the Equal Rights Amendment.

She believes that a lot of our legislators are in office for “personal gain” and “are out of touch with reality with what is happening with people. They are living in a bubble and do not treat people with dignity and compassion.” This is especially problematic because it is in the local sphere of the city, school and utility boards, and state level where most decisions affecting lives are made.

She believes that for too long, only men have represented the Legislative District and she feels that it is “time for more diverse representation.” She is running for the State Senate because she “believes our state is at a crucial crossroads and we can choose to continue the status quo of corporate handouts or we can reclaim our state government for all Arizona’s.” She pledges to be a “true public servant who will not look the other way when I see corruption or anything that seems unethical.” She wants to be the voice of the people and their concerns as their advocate at the capital, relying on “community engagement while seeking real and practical solutions for all Arizonans that create the policy that will ensure the wellbeing for all.”

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In 2019, #AZLeg Should Review Corporate Tax Giveaways (video)

Fair tax forum in Tucson

A standing room only crowd filled the IBEW Hall for the Stop Thief! Let’s Restore Fair Taxes Forum, hosted by PALF and PDA Tucson, with support from other unions and community groups.

#RedForEd lifted the veil from our eyes and put the issue of corporate tax giveaways front and center in the fight to restore public education funding in Arizona.

As many of you are aware, the Arizona Legislature is giving away more than $13 billion in taxes every year and using only $10 billion to run the state. It is not sound fiscal policy to use accounting gimmicks and 50 fund transfers to “balance” the budget. It is no surprise that the state owes K-12 education around $1 billion. Thanks to scheduled corporate tax cuts passed by the Tea Party*, beginning in 2011, Arizona’s corporations got to keep an extra $1 billion in 2017. These corporate tax cuts continue through 2019, even though we can’t afford them.

As a result of the anger and frustration that many Tucsonans feel about the Arizona Legislature’s performance, the Stop Thief! Let’s Restore Fair Taxes Community Forum drew a standing room only crowd of diverse participants.

The event opened with heart-felt testimonies from current high school students, who explained how school budget cuts have impacted their lives and their schools.

LD9 Rep. Randy Friese gave a detailed presentation on tax revenue and how it has been siphoned off by special interest groups and corporate tax cuts for decades. (Video here.)

LD9 Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley’s talk focused specific tax giveaway bills and the drama that swirled around the bills that passed and the ones that failed. (Video here.) Excluding any votes related to budget appropriations, all of the tax giveaway votes in the 53rd Legislature were bipartisan— with Democrats and Republicans on both sides.

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CD6 Candidate Garrick McFadden Knows How Democrats Can Beat Schweikert & Gosar

Congressional District Six Democratic Candidate Garrick McFadden with his wife and daughter.

Paying another visit to the Coffee Bean on Indian School and Miller in Scottsdale, Congressional District Six candidate Garrick McFadden offered his perspective (while I devoured a Volcano Brownie) on how Democrats can win in CD 6 and other state offices and local and congressional districts while improving their party infrastructure.

Saying “demographics is destiny,” McFadden, running for the Democratic Nomination in CD 6 against Anita Malik and Heather Ross, feels that Democrats can beat Republicans across the state by employing two methods to improve the Democratic state infrastructure: ground game and technology.

First, all candidates need a well-manned ground game, staffed with a multicultural team of volunteers that will go into all Democratic-leaning communities, knock on doors, and persuade the voters in those areas to turn out and vote in levels that will improve the hopefully winning margins for Democratic Candidates. Mr. McFadden feels that these voters in Democratic-leaning precincts are a largely untapped reservoir of Democratic supporters that need to be cultivated, educated, persuaded, and encouraged to turn out in levels that perhaps candidates in previous election cycles did not vigorously pursue.

Second, using technology effectively is another way McFadden believes Democrats can improve their infrastructure and improve their margins in Democratic-leaning precincts. Making use of the VAN vote builder software application, McFadden and other candidates can identify likely Democratic voters and efficiently target them to visit and discuss their candidacies with them.

Mr. McFadden’s strategy has already yielded unparalleled results. According to Mariana Aguilar, Mr. McFadden’s campaign coordinator “based on Garrick’s ground game theory, we have already knocked over 20,000 doors, more than any other Democratic campaign in the history of the district. And unlike other campaigns, we have not only prioritized Democrats who always vote, but also Democrats in marginalized communities that may not vote in every election. Garrick believes that only with both of these groups at the polls can Democrats win in District 6 or statewide—one of the reasons why we set up our campaign office at the Metro Center Mall along the I-17 corridor.”

McFadden’s approach to winning echoes many candidates who are running on a liberal progressive (rather than pragmatic progressive) message, employing a getting out the base strategy to winning. The campaign has and will also reach out to other potential supporters like independents, disaffected Republicans and Democrats that voted for Trump after they voted for Obama (although McFadden did express wonder how some Obama supporters could have supported to Trump, the ultimate Birther, after seeing his behavior, lies, and actions during the campaign). He feels that Democrats should run on issues similar to ones he is championing which include single-payer health care, paycheck fairness, disbanding private prisons, abolishing I.C.E. (or shifting it to the Department of Justice) and decriminalizing cannabis. He also feels that Republicans like David Schweikert and Paul Gosar are embarrassments and should be defeated because they have demonstrated a continual refusal to listen to their constituents on issues like the Affordable Care Act.

Garrick McFadden has several good ideas on how to improve Democratic turnout that should be considered. Voters are not going to turn out for a candidate if they do not make an effort like coming to their door to reach out to them and discuss ideas for moving the district forward.

For more information on Mr. McFadden, his ideas, and his race for the Democratic Nomination in CD 6, please view the links below.

https://www.facebook.com/electgarrick/

https://www.electgarrick.com/

https://twitter.com/intent/tweet?text=Home&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.electgarrick.com%2F





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Invest in Ed is not the end for funding our schools. It is only the beginning.

There is great enthusiasm among Democratic circles that the Invest in Ed ballot initiative will pass this November and restore about two-thirds of the 2008 education funding levels by taxing our wealthiest residents.

The question now is what comes after. What dedicated source will make up the remainder to fund education at 2008 levels? And more importantly, will this mechanism fund our schools at 2019 levels and get us out of the cellar of national ranking scales for education funding?

While writing for Blog for Arizona, I’ve interviewed candidates running for LD office and Superintendent of Public Instruction, as well as Noah Karvelis of Red for Ed, which spearheaded the Invest in Ed initiative along with the Arizona Center for Economic Progress. Their immediate focus is passing Invest in Ed in November. As to what comes after, many echo Gubernatorial Candidate Steve Farley’s proposal to rescind corporate tax giveaways. Other ideas center around general tax reform, taking away tax credits (including those for vouchers) that go to private schools, a constitutional amendment that mandates school funding with inflation adjustments, increasing state bonding capacity for school construction, and – if absolutely necessary with no other available options – raising the sales tax.

So here’s the important public policy consideration to remember: Invest in Ed is not the end for funding our schools. It is only the beginning. If Democrats perform as expected this November, they will consider many ideas to bring Arizona out of the nation’s basement of funding education.





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