Andy Biggs is a special kind of crony, incompetent and corrupt public servant. Being a member of the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus (a group of elected officials whose sole mission is to demean, degrade, and reduce to rubble the government they have been elected to serve in while glorifying the free market and all things conservative), the current incumbent in Congressional District Five favors policies that hurt the common person but help the affluent and Dark Money Interests. As a state and federal legislator, he has opposed and attempted to stymie measures to improve and expand Kids Care, Medicaid, a woman’s right to choose, and LGBTQ rights. Such a “public servant” is not the optimal choice to lead the Congressional Five House District forward in Arizona.
The current territorial composition of Arizona Congressional District Five contains all or parts of Mesa, Gilbert, Queen Creek, and Chandler. The district in its current form has been solidly in Republican hands since 2012. This year two Democrats are vying for an opportunity to defeat Mr. Biggs. One is Jose Torres and the other; the subject of this interview is Joan Greene. Below are Ms. Greene’s responses to a series of questions, some answered at SoZo Coffeehouse in Chandler and others through written responses, regarding the issues facing the people in the district and how she would act as the districts next Representative.
Please tell the readers about your background and preparation for the office you are seeking?
“I am an AZ Native, a business owner of over 31 years, and a passionate animal advocate. I am fiscally responsible and fiscally smart. The skills and proven strategies I have used in my business of 31 years, will be the skills I use to put us back on the path to prosperity and security for everyone. I have the business experience to grow the economy. I know what our kitchen table problems are and I will provide realistic solutions. I have the foresight to know our problems of today are not the problems of tomorrow. We must be proactive and not reactive.”
What are at least three local issues the people in this district view as needing to be addressed?
“Healthcare, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, lower drug prices, jobs that pay a livable wage, education, environment, keeping our public lands public.”
Please describe two ways you can address these issues better than your opponent?
“Listening to the experts and providing realistic solutions is how I will lead. My opponent listens to his donors and believes in the slash and burn method with zero replacement or solution. He is a destroyer and I am a builder. If we govern with the idea that everyone benefits, governing is easy. We need to invest in policies that build up the people; living wages, infrastructure, taking care of seniors, families, and providing peace of mind.
Small businesses are not receiving the opportunities that larger companies are and at times are being taken advantage of by larger entities (think of the current occupant of the White House) who say “what are you going to do, sue me”? They need to be able to have recourse to fight back and we want to expand support for working capital so small businesses can grow.”
Furthermore, she maintains that her opponent does not address the important issues the constituents in CD5 are talking about such as; Veterans, homelessness, helping abused women, jobs, health care, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, protecting our older adults and disabled community, environment, to name a few categories. Instead the incumbent cares more about submitting a bill that allows switchblade knives to cross state lines, all because a campaign donor wanted it. The goal of public service, according to Ms. Greene “should be to make things better” for the people.
How would you rate yourself as a potential legislator and how would you rate your opponent’s current performance as a legislator and please give at least two reasons for both parts.
“I will rate myself as an excellent legislator – grade A+. My opponent receives an F. The job of the elected official is to represent EVERYONE.”
“I am the only one who has been in every precinct in our 1423 square miles of CD5. I have had two town halls and numerous meet and greets that have been open to everyone and we make sure to invite people from every political party. The last time he met with people who were not his donors or the select few who agreed with him was April 11, 2017. The job of the elected official is to provide solutions not create problems.”
“My opponent has spent his time obstructing justice or being on Fox TV. He is destroying our democracy, our economy and our family’s opportunities to succeed. There is not a picture that he doesn’t post or a shout out that he gives to a company that he hasn’t taken money from. His slash and burn style hurts our families and even though he knows this, he does not care.”
The people of CD5 are starving for their Representative to be accessible, transparent and honest, which I am.
What are at least two personal qualities you offer that your opponent does not?
“Listening, compassion, desire to build a Community and Country that thrives together.”
Would you put this district in the Liberal Progressive or Pragmatic Progressive Camp or Centrist?
“If I had to label this district – it is the Human district. We want opportunities and financial security for all our families; we want quality education, affordable health care, lower drug prices, livable wages, affordable housing and a secure retirement. We want Country before Party and we want to get rid of the corruption that has been a part of the government for too long. These are issues that are not partisan issues but everyone’s issues.”
She considers herself a Moderate Democrat who believes you have to be “open to new ideas and have the skills to look at issues in a different way. We must ask ourselves, “How can we make this particular idea work”? Sometimes we have to say, “This is a great idea but we need to do ‘a’ and ‘b’ first before we get to the final ‘c’. It’s OK to zig or zag because like life, sometimes there are detours we take to get to the final destination”.
What are two reasons your message is better than the Republican one of your opponent for this district?
“My message is – I work for you, I do not work for an industry or a donor. My message is we must invest in people, and provide for our people’s financial security which is related to quality education, affordable health care that covers pre-existing conditions, lower prescription drug costs and lower insurance premiums. Protecting Medicare, Medicaid, and expanding Social Security. It’s how people aren’t getting big raises in their pay even after we gave corporations big money tax cuts. It’s about financial stability and opportunities for all our families. “
What is your view and proposals on the following issues?
“Education is vitally important to the health of our economy and the success of our families. It is the surest way for people to get out of poverty or close the economic gap.”
K-12 Education “We must start with Pre-K – Another aspect of education that is not discussed nearly enough is early childhood education including Head Start and Early Head Start. When we invest in early childhood, we really change outcomes for children and families. A child’s brain is 90% full grown by the time they are 5 years old and the most rapid brain growth and development is birth to three years old. Birth to five years old is how we really make a huge difference.”
Student Loans and Pell Grants “We must expand Pell grants most Pell grant money goes to students with a total family income below $20,000. This is why education is so important so the recipients can close the economic gap.” She believes paying off student debt over twenty years is a drain on the economy and she would like money going to loans shifted to grants where the people are not burdened by debt and can spend it while growing the economy. She chastises her Republican Opponent for being in the “pocket” of banking interests.
Vouchers – “The tax money needs to stay with the public schools and repair the buildings, purchase updated textbooks, hire teachers at wages befitting the profession and pay the support staff the wages they deserve also.”
Charter Schools – “Charter Schools have their place in the school system, but they must be transparent and accountable, not owned, managed, or built by any elected official or their families. The way they are run now, our tax money is the piggy bank for the corruption that is rampant with our elected officials.”
Dreamers – “Give them citizenship. They have been here contributing to our economy and the fabric of our Communities, so why would we want that to disappear?”
The Tax Cut Passed last year.
Your ideas on what tax cuts and tax credits should be allowed: “I just read that if a company or corporation has any employees on public assistance, they do not get a tax cut. The tax cut was a scam and we all knew it. The people who benefitted are the top 1% including the GOP incumbent who voted for it. A prime example of corruption, cronyism, and incompetence.”
What should be the top tax rate? “I would need to spend time with many economists and formulate a number that is fair for everyone.”
Your views on how to improve the state and national economy. “Prioritize our funds into people and not into the pockets of the donors of the elected officials (corruption, cronyism, and incompetence). We must have a zero tolerance policy that is enforced for the elected officials who are not good stewards of our Country.”
Broadband – “We must make sure every area of our Country (like Power Ranch in her district) is covered with high-speed reliable Internet service. The internet is no longer a luxury but is a tool we use every day” Examples would be telemedicine or people who receive their education online.
Roads, Bridges, and Railways – “1 out of every 10 bridges need repair. Roads are filled with potholes which damages vehicles and rail bridges need repair. Not only will the repairs save lives and equipment damage but will provide much-needed jobs.”
Natural Resources – Arizona is a state rich with natural resources and a great diversity of habitat, landscapes, plant life, and wildlife.
I consider our public lands and parks to be our natural resources. They provide a benefit to our economy through tourism and jobs. The people who want to mine are the companies who will line their pockets as they destroy our eco-system and take from our children and grandchildren the opportunity to experience our unblemished nature, the way it was meant to be.
Cultural like theaters and symphonies – As a drama major I feel that arts are an important part of the total life experience. This provides jobs and increases the favorability score for cities that do have a thriving arts center.
Oceanographic and Space Exploration “The study of the oceans is important for our environment and ecosystem and play a huge role in our understanding of climate change and global warming. The killing of whales and dolphins is shameful. Space Exploration is not an immediate priority because the homeless person on the street needs to be taken care of first.”
Good Paying Jobs – “$15 is the number that is talked about but to be able to rent a 2 bedroom apartment you need to earn at least $18.40 and higher depending on where you live. This also ties in with affordable housing.” It has been shown that the economy will grow because people have money to spend and that will save the federal government money because we will not need to pay for safety net programs for some people.
Obamacare, Medicare for all, or something else? “Medicare for all. This is what everyone wants. This is not a partisan issue.” She feels that this “needs to be done in steps with first fixing ACA, then lower the age to buy into Medicare at 55 and then we keep lowering it until it is second nature and it is available for everyone.
Trump plans to dismantle Obamacare – “He is a destroyer and not a builder. We must keep it in place and fix the areas that need help as we work our way to Medicare for all.”
Should the government negotiate for cheaper drug prices?“Of course and this is a major platform for me”.
Trade: Please explain your views. Do you favor free trade or protectionism; N.A.F.T.A. and W.T.O. “We must renegotiate NAFTA and stop special protections for large corporations as they take jobs to a country that pays the workers less and does not protect our environment.”
Reducing Poverty and Homelessness like affordable housing, food stamps, work requirements, and raising the minimum wage and earned income tax credit. “I am becoming acquainted with the Universal Basic Income and will be doing more research on this concept which sounds interesting and doable if we move to spend on certain anti-poverty programs around to this idea. Until then we need to raise our minimum wage so people do not need to work two jobs to make ends meet. This frees up the 2nd job so someone can have a first job.” She also feels that people who cannot work because of physical limitations but still want to be productive and contribute to their community can become volunteers like reading to children or being teacher’s aides.
Private Prisons vs Public Prisons – “Private prisons benefit only the people who own the prisons. No to private prisons.”
Sentencing for Criminal Reform: should people get harsh sentences for non-violent crimes? “Depends on the crime because corruption, fraud, drug trafficking, perjury, espionage, treason, white collar crimes are a few non-violent crimes that should receive harsh sentences.”
Gun Safety – “I believe in the 2A but we must advance our reforms as the weapons and technology also advance. We can have common sense gun reform that includes Red Flag Laws, age restriction, closing loopholes at gun shows, background checks, increase waiting periods, and federal databases used for gun background checks must be kept current. These are reforms everyone wants except for the NRA and the elected officials who are bought by the NRA – corruption, cronyism, and incompetence cost us our lives.”
Do you support a wall? “I do not support a wall and neither do the majority of Americans, including those who live in AZ, other border states and those who live on the border. There are other ways to secure our Borders that provide jobs and use technology which will save us from wasting billions of our taxpayer dollars that should be going back into our Communities to help our citizens.
National Defense – “We need a strong National Defense of course but we are the strongest nation there is. We must stop throwing money at the military for equipment we don’t need, audit and find the “lost” billions of dollars and invest directly into the healthcare, physical, mental and emotional needs of our Veterans and families. Jobs, housing, solving the homeless problem can be a reality when we invest our resources properly.”
Foreign Relations with Russia – “Why are we a part of this? We are watching elected officials hand the keys to our Country to Putin. Shameful and every elected official who defends the actions of those who are conspiring with the enemy or is silent, including my Republican Opponent, the incumbent, must be held accountable.”
Our membership in the United Nations. “We must not let Trump and the GOP weaken our relationship in the United Nations.”
Presidents shift to Authoritarianism – “Those who can’t lead, bully. We see this with the current congressional district 5 Representative Biggs. Corruption, cronyism, and incompetence. Our American Values are to extend our hand to people in need. We need to go back and become the country of WE and not become the country of me.
Dark Money and Campaign Finance Reform “We must get money out. When Biggs was Senate President he opposed a ban on gifts from lobbyists. Why? Because Biggs’ door was always open to lobbyists and their handouts.”
Gerrymandered Districts – “Independent redistricting commission must be in place and not be touched by any elected official.”
P.A. and Green Energy – “We must take back the E.P.A. from the corrupt cronyism and incompetence. Our public lands and the quality of our lives are being sold off to the lowest bidder so they can line their pockets. We should be the leader in Green Energy but because of the corruption, we are lagging behind other countries. This hurts the health of the people, the planet and economically. Our endangered Grey Wolves are in danger of being slaughtered all because he does the bidding of the ranchers who give him money and they want them gone.
The Supreme Court – “We got screwed by the corruption of the Republican Party, we know it and history knows it.”
A Woman’s Right to Choose – “Exactly that – it is the woman’s right to choose – for all aspects of her life.”
LGBTQ Rights – “Protection and inclusion is a must for everyone. Laws to protect must be strong and never to be tampered with by those who have hate in their hearts.”
Enthusiasm and Community Engagement: How would you rate it compared to 2016 or before and advise why:
“The enthusiasm and engagement for our message of change and ‘Together we thrive’ is through the roof. Everyone wants the corruption, cronyism,and incompetence gone from politics and they will start right here in CD 5 by voting out the incumbent.” They have over a hundred volunteers and the number of recruits is rising. Unlike Biggs, they have traveled everywhere in the district and listened to people from our low-income families, our wealthy families and everyone in-between.
Are there any issues not mentioned that you feel need to be addressed this election cycle and why?
“Yes, the division the incumbent is perpetuating with his racism and lack of humanity must be addressed. The lack of compassion and his refusal to fund the hurricane relief bill for Texas, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands for his fellow Americans is unforgivable. He voted against condemning genocide in Myanmar but he stands shoulder to shoulder with sex abuse enablers and turns a blind eye to sex abuse against our children when he could have and should have stopped it. His actions tell us he either wants to kill us, bankrupt us or steal from us and at times all three happens. These are not the values the good people of Congressional District 5, Arizona and the United States of America, believe in and we will not accept them. “
Is there anything else you would like the community to know about you as you prepare for this election season and please explain? “I am the voice for the voiceless. Everyone has a seat at the table. When you lead with compassion, when you put the needs of the people first, you can’t go wrong.”
Please describe at least three marketing methods you are employing to convince voters you are better in the position you are running for than your opponent. “1) Me. I am the real deal. I walk the walk and talk the talk. People are desperate for their elected official not to be corrupt, to want to work for them, be genuine and that is me. For the other two, every good business person knows you do not tell the recipe for the secret sauce.”
Joan Greene is a very determined and passionate candidate committed to improving the lives of everyone. All forward-looking voters should consider this election season. For more information about Joan, please research the sites below.