Over cups of coffee and water at the Tucson Café Passe (the bratwurst is good as well), Democratic Attorney General Candidate January Contreras, a fourth generation Arizonan, described the reasons she is the right person to lead the state’s justice department starting in January 2019.
An experienced jurist and advocate, Contreras, a wife of 24 years and mother to two sons, has an extensive record of public service. Mentored (and still guided) by former Attorney General, Governor, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, she has served as a Deputy County Attorney for Maricopa County and Assistant Attorney General. In these capacities, Contreras prosecuted criminals, people, and entities that committed health care fraud against vulnerable citizens like the elderly in nursing homes.
Furthermore, under former Governor Janet Napolitano, her duties also included policy advisor and serving as the Assistant Director at the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) where she fought proposed cuts to the system. Joining Governor Napolitano at the Department of Homeland Security during the Obama Administration, Contreras helped establish the Council on Combating Violence against Women and served on other task forces designed to further advances for women and children.
Returning to Arizona, Contreras founded ALWAYS (Arizona Legal Women and Youth Services), an organization dedicated to assisting victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, and child abuse. When necessary, Contreras would help the victims for free.
What public service means
Contreras believes that public service should be about the “little guy and democracy.” The people, especially the most vulnerable, need to be protected. Public office should not be about targeting people based on their beliefs or orientation. Serving should not revolve around helping the private interests who fill campaign coffers with dark money. Running for Attorney General, Contreras wants to restore the office to one where pragmatism, impartiality, and protecting the constitutional rights of the people would become the norm again.
If elected to that office, Contreras promises to be beholden to the people. Among the issues she will fight for while being the states chief law officer are:
- Fighting the hold of dark money in our election system.
- Upholding the constitutional rights of all people and groups regardless of ethnicity, faith, physical condition, or orientation.
- Passing sensible gun laws like universal background checks through an open decision making and legislative process.
- Protecting the rights of all eligible voters to exercise the right and opportunities to vote. Furthermore, in conjunction with the Secretary of State’s office, she would employ the services of technology experts in helping detect and ward off potential cyber attacks and hacking.
- Ensuring that Dreamers are protected and prioritization towards illegal immigrants would focus on criminals and those who have recently arrived. Border security should use all possible technological resources like surveillance drones as well as a possible wall.
- Recommending that the state government adhere to its constitutional responsibilities in ensuring that all universities and K-12 are properly funded and university tuition rates for students are as low as possible.
- Budgeting priorities like law enforcement and not wasting funds on wedge issues like trying to stop “multicultural studies” in the Tucson district or the ability for members of the LGBTQ community to adopt children.
- Safeguarding the state’s water rights in consultation with our state and Native American leaders.
- Respecting the sovereign rights of Native Americans on their national grounds.
- Abiding by the law and offering prudent counsel when the Governor or any public servant entertains or pursues policies that are unconstitutional.
Contreras’ campaign has received sizable grassroots support. One organization, the Democratic Attorney General’s Association has collected responses for close to 6,000 potential volunteers. Her fundraising efforts are reportedly exceeding her opponents (current Attorney General Mark Brnovich) 13 times over. To date, she is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination and she can campaign without the right or the left of the party pulling her in different directions. One has to remember that it was not very long ago that the last woman who occupied the Attorney Generals Office would become governor of the state. That did not turn out badly for Arizona. Maybe lightning will strike twice for the Grand Canyon State.
For more information about Contreras, please visit her website at www.januaryforaz.com
David Gordon of Tempe is a history teacher and author of the Progressive Bull Moose blog. He wrote several articles about the RedForEd protests.