When voters last heard from Deedra Abboud, she had just finished her campaign to become the Democratic Party Senate Nominee in 2018.
While she did not prevail in that contest, the civil rights and social justice proponent, attorney, and business owner has now joined the race to win the Second District seat on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.
The seat, which oversees the cities and towns of Apache Junction, Carefree, Cave Creek, Fountain Hills, Gilbert, Mesa, Paradise Valley, Phoenix, Scottsdale, has been headed by Republican incumbent Steve Churci since 2012, a person who is against the minimum wage and who wanted to take election day responsibilities from Adrian Fontes after the 2018 elections.
Ms. Abboud wants to change the direction espoused by Churci and the other members of the five-person supervisory board that thinks like him and bring a new era of transparency, accountability, and accessibility to it.
She sat down at the new Starbucks at Dobson and Southern to discuss her qualifications for the Board and positions on the issues.
The questions and responses are below
- Please tell the readers three ways the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors affects their lives?
“It is like the U.S. Senate of the county. They pour over every program. They approve the budget for over 60 county agencies. There are 13000 employees making them one of the largest employers in AZ Serving four million residents. They (the supervisors) need to go out to meet the people. The current Supervisor for District Two does not. They have a public meeting twice a month but the people are largely not aware of them. We should know what they do with the money. Some of the decisions from some of the members have a clear conflict of interests because they support industries that they are profiting from. Most of the conflict of interest decisions are made in executive session that is not open to public comment. They have been inattentive like when Arpaio was Sheriff and they did not act. Now, they are forced to pay millions in legal settlements.”
“The Board determines policies for land use, environment, transportation, health care, human services, housing, economic development. The number of agencies they supervise is huge. They hire a county manager and the board appoints administrators over the agencies. The Board, however, segregates themselves from the agencies and the people on the ground, creating a disconnect on how to address issues and fix them in some cases or even know them.”
- Please tell the readers how your education and experience have prepared you to serve on the board.
“I am comfortable having conversations with the average person. You should be able to talk with people, especially those who disagree with you.
“I am an attorney (immigration, corporate, and estate) shows I can be risk-averse and determine what needs to be done in a pragmatic way.
“ I speak in plain language where everyone can understand what I am saying.”
“ I know how to run a campaign that inspires people and you don’t have to do it like everyone else and how joyful it is to discuss the real issues with people and seeing how much we have in common. We have to reach out to red areas as well as blue.”
Please describe how you would support:
- Animal wellness, adoption, and protection:
“It is not the job to micromanage agencies that are running properly. They should listen to communities and employees about what we should do. The Animal Control Agency is the most dysfunctional. They have the highest turnover (20 to 30 percent) and we should be worried about low morale and brain drain. They are also experiencing a Narc-tattle tale atmosphere where the supervisor wants to go after the people doing it like an authoritarian atmosphere. We need to listen to the employees and their ideas.”
- Public safety from disease:
“ The Health and Welfare Agency has a department that monitors diseases like the current Coronavirus. My first order of business is to visit the agencies and listen to them and hear about their wants and needs. We should talk to the emergency management agency, public health, risk management, and human services. All of them are impacted when contagious diseases occur. They all have a role and should coordinate together. The County Public Health Agency has HIV services and they need to do a better and less confusing job at promoting that information. We should be funding that and be proactive in reaching out to the people that need help. Public health does STD testing and there is only one location in the county. You are not reaching the rural areas of Maricopa County or retirement communities. Need satellite or mobile services and promote those to the community. “
- Ensuring immunizations are given to low income and homeless citizens:
“We also have three locations for that that is more spread out but when you look them up there are no hours listed. Websites need to be revamped. We could do mobile units like bloodmobiles.”
- County Libraries:
“They seem to be functioning very well. We need to go the people running and using them and assess how well and how we can improve. “
- Veterans Services:
“I feel the same about them as the county libraries.”
- Safeguarding waste, recycling, and sanitation:
“This is one of the areas where communication and coordination between the cities and counties need to be better because both entities have functions in this area and how can they supplement each other. Personal medical waste and unused meds are two areas that the county has links for but just tells people to go somewhere else. The county can do better than that.”
“We are one of the fastest-growing counties and transportation is huge. Infrastructure also includes storm drains, which are inadequate, and we need to be proactive on that. Why not require those for new property developments. Maricopa County Board of Supervisors decided we could save money by not investing in the buildings we occupy by leasing instead of buying them outright. There are dividends you get as a property owner but you cannot get it because you are leasing to a landlord. When we expand, we can only lease instead of owning buildings because we did not create a fund and save money over time to purchase. Sustainability is huge. We do have an agency on innovation that focuses more on training. We should do more with sustainability like water conservation, solar panels, storm drains, and owning buildings.”
- Please address other priorities, not covered in question four, as a member of the board you would like to pursue if elected.
“My first priority would be accessible and transparent and ask the 13,000 employees what is working and what needs improvement. I would like to talk to agencies that intersect and have more cross-pollination with each other and encourage that.”
“I really want to get into listening.”
“I do not work in an industry that has a conflict of interests and we need policies to regulate that. “
“We should be more risk-averse on issues that have notice. Correctional health (another agency with the second-highest turnover): we have been fined millions of dollars because we have not complied with court orders (sometimes there are fines on top of fines). They do not pay well and have to hire temporary RN’s at a higher rate because they are not willing to pay lower staff that does not have to be as qualified.”
“We need to streamline and update policies (some that have not been done in a decade). We need to have more auditing and oversight of the county manager and agency administrators’ office. We need to have a more hands-on approach instead of just delegating. Trust but verify. “
“Finally, being more accessible, having more integration, and being more open to innovation can be done efficiently.”
“Some of the things I would like to look into with the agencies is:
- Telecommuting-a lot of these employees are document-oriented on the computer and their work is virtual. There is no reason they have to be at a cubicle to do it.
- More paid internships: We are in the middle of all these universities. Bringing in this new blood and preparing them for the real world in exchange for college credit and money can help the county with the current brain drain.
- Human Resources: We have disconnected the sharing of human knowledge into automation and an assembly line rather than having real people who do amazing work do it. “
- Please tell the reader anything you would like them to know not covered in the previous questions.
“I am not a my way or the highway person. I believe you collect information and consider it. Then you make a decision and are able to explain it. You should also be flexible to adapt when times change. I am always open to other people. I do not have much of a blocker. I do not think I am above anybody. I am willing to listen.”
Deedra Abboud would bring a sense of fresh air, public policy dynamism, and dedication to the interests of the people to the Maricopa Board of Supervisors.
She is a candidate voters should consider in November 2020.