Once upon a time, Republicans in legislative districts like LD 15 (a district that includes parts or all of Peoria, Phoenix, Glendale, Cave Creek, Paradise Valley, and Deer Valley) could run virtually unopposed for election and reelection because Democrats hardly challenged them. For example, current LD 15 State Senator Nancy Barto only had one opponent in 2012 and 2014, a Republican in the district primary before Tonya MacBeth challenged her in 2016. On the House side, incumbents Heather Carter and John Allen ran unopposed in 2014 and defeated single shot candidates Patricia Flickner in 2012 and Brandon Dwyer in 2016.
Well times are changing in LD 15 and other districts previously uncontested or little challenged by Democrats.
2018 is an embarrassment of riches for Democrats as three exemplary and passionate aspiring public servants led by 2016 State Senate Candidate Tonya MacBeth (the others are Jennifer Samuels and Julie Gunnigle) all vie for an opportunity to face off against incumbent John Allen and term-limited in the Senate Nancy Barto in the State House of Representative election on November 6 (Ms. Carter is term-limited in the House and running for the district state senate seat against a fourth exemplary, passionate, and aspiring Democratic public servant, Kristin Dybvig-Pawleko).
At what is becoming the press office for Democratic candidates in LD 15 (the Starbucks at Tatum and Paradise Parkway, Tonya MacBeth gave an impassioned presentation on why she would be an ideal legislator for LD 15 as a mature voice for pragmatic centrist-progressivism.
Who is Tonya MacBeth?
A proud wife (her husband is a retired firefighter and paramedic) and mother of a son and daughter, Ms. MacBeth has been an Arizona resident since 1971. A graduate of Camelback High School, she attended the University of Arizona where he received a Bachelors Degree. An advocate for the mentally ill since 1991 (while her opponent Ms. Barto has had a campaign conversion), her positions working for those in need of assistance in this area motivated her to pursue a law degree from the Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law. While still championing the causes for the mentally ill (she is the advisory board chairperson of C.H.E.E.E.R.S, a peer-run mental health center), she has also embraced family law as a partner at the law firm of Burch & Cracchiolo. When she has free time, she finds solace and comfort with her family (including the family dog), her church, maintaining the freshwater fish tank, “doing Origami” and baking.
Why is Ms. MacBeth running again in LD 15 and what does she hope to accomplish?
As mentioned earlier, Ms. MacBeth has run before in LD 15, losing to Ms. Barto in the State Senate Race in 2016. She has learned from that experience and is running on the same issues this year: restore school funding, moving Arizona forward economically and socially, and protecting small businesses. She believes that the reactionary policies on social justice, individual (especially women) rights, and economic matters supported by Ms. Barto and Mr. Allen (access their Vote Smart links below) have “dug a hole” in the district and the state, steering us backward. She is concerned by the impact of continued Republican leadership would mean for future state positions towards public education, the lower and middle class (“treating people with dignity”), preexisting health conditions (full disclosure: Ms. MacBeth has had thyroid cancer which she has conquered) a woman’s right to choose, child adoption parent selection criteria, LGBTQ rights, and same-sex marriage.
Running for the State House this year, she wants to be one of the beacons Democrats, Independents, and disaffected Republicans can come to express their thoughts and concerns to and know they are being listened to. She wants to help build a Democratic base in the district that will be continually vibrant and enduring. She offers a pragmatic centrist progressive program to move the state forward in a mature and thoughtful fashion.
Tonya MacBeth on the Issues
A Quality Public Education for all Children
Endorsed by the Arizona Education Association, she wants all children to receive a well-funded quality Pre K through College Education.
She supports Invest in Ed Ballot Initiative and wants all faculty and staff members well compensated. She is worried that if the funding initiative fails, Republicans will claim that the people do not want more funding for schools and if it does pass, they will assert that the monies raised by the passage of the ballot initiative, which only restores about 70 percent of the 2008 budget levels, is all schools need. If Invest in Ed passes, she favors comprehensive tax reform, which may include closing corporate tax loopholes and repealing Proposition 108 (the measure passed in the 1990’s that said the legislature would need a two-thirds majority to raise taxes, which makes closing loopholes difficult to accomplish), to fully fund education and other state and local priorities. She believes further increases in state and local sales tax unfairly burden those “living on the margins” while raising more taxes on the wealthy would not be “politically appetizing, but all options must be addressed including sin taxes and the recapturing of lottery monies.”
To improve student learning, she supports:
• State funding of full-day Pre Kindergarten.
• State funding of full-day Kindergarten
• Career Pathways and Apprenticeships for High School and Adult Learners.
• State Funding of Community Colleges on an incremental path to where instead of Pre K through 12 Public Education, it will be Pre K through 14. This, along with career pathways will also help recruit businesses because they will realize they are getting a prepared and educated workforce.
• Improving the state university in-state tuition situation (she remembers when all Arizona residents needed was a good summer job to pay the year’s tuition) for all Arizona residents, including Dreamers but would focus on building up learning, preparation, and achievement from Pre K through community college. As an interim step to fulfilling the government’s constitutional requirement on providing as free a tuition as possible, she supports increasing the number of Regents academic scholarships for Arizona high school graduates so they would attend one of the three state universities and stay instate.
• Increasing the number of slots for Medical Physician Residents, increasing the rate by which medical students educated in Arizona can complete their residency locally, continue their careers in Arizona resulting in the state recapturing their investment in education.
• Good Charter Schools that are accountable and transparent. Both of Ms. MacBeth’s children attended Foothills Academy, a well regarded Charter School in Maricopa County.
• Voting No on Proposition 305 and no on Voucher expansion.
• The elimination of state funding for the Koch Learning Centers at the University of Arizona and Arizona State University.
Promoting Economic Growth and Well Paying Jobs
Believing that we “cannot rely on construction to drive the economy,” Ms. MacBeth believes that a well trained, educated, and compensated workforce is essential to growing the state economy. She feels students should be educated and trained in all areas including solar energy, aeronautics, health, and technology in high school and community college career pathway programs so they can get high paying jobs at positions like the Mayo Clinic, Honeywell, and American Express (all companies in LD 15). She believes that the state should incentivize businesses based on the number of living wage job growth they exhibit as well as economic performance.
Roads and Highways: Supporting the proposition that “expanding infrastructure is job growth,” she wants the HURF/ gas tax monies allocated to only road and highway construction and maintenance and not reallocated to DPS. Realizing that the narrow stretch of I 17 has led to accidents that have paralyzed the flow of individual and commercial traffic, she supports the creation of a second North-South highway to relieve congestion. She also thinks there should be a gas tax on trucks that drive on natural gas because they are contributing to the wear and tear of the roads they are driving on.
Rail and Bussing: Remembering that she (and later her children) utilized city bussing as a high school student, she wants bus and light rail routes expanded with greater frequencies. She feels a bus or rail Hub by the I-17 portion of the West Valley would be ideal for people to travel from. She also favors solar powered shades/fans at bus stops while travelers wait in the heat.
Broadband: She believes that Arizona, should join the 20 other states that mandate net neutrality. This will assure that everyone has equal access to information and business opportunities for all people, regardless of the provider. This will avoid conservative proponents making accessing centrist or liberal Internet sites slower and vice versa and stop “economically privileged industries like Amazon functioning at faster speeds than mom and pop retail outlets. If we mandate net neutrality, she believes Arizona would be a hub for Internet-based startups. To mandate neutrality, she would require that all Internet service providers that contract with the state must provide a neutral Internet to Arizona customers. This will cost the state nothing. The Corporation Commission members need to conclude that the Internet is a necessary utility for all consumers and all of them deserve high-speed quality access.
Green Energy: “How many days of sunshine do we have to have before Solar Energy makes sense?” She is for the Clean Energy Ballot Initiative and wants to incentivize developing solar technology (particularly solar batteries as well as large-scale arrays) by scaling up from the existing technologies. She also supports wind energy in parts of the state where it is feasible.
Water Supply and Maintenance: She is concerned that a recent Arizona State Supreme Court four to three ruling permitting development in the Sierra Vista area spells trouble as we combat an ongoing drought. That recent decision identified that developers don’t have to tell future homeowners that even though the water may exist in the future, there may be others that have superior rights to that water, and identified that there is no requirement for long-term planning in many rural counties. She supports a comprehensive water policy that addresses instate needs and coordination with the other states depending on our regional water supplies. She was upset that the legislature did not bother to hear a conservation proposal from Western Arizona ranchers that went against the interests of their Dark Money land developer sponsors.
Affordable and Quality Healthcare
Recognizing that “taxpayers pick it up on the back end at a higher rate through the costs of emergency services if the state does not fund health maintenance and sickness preventive services,” Ms. MacBeth favors Medicaid Expansion through state resident premium-based enrollment and the stability of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. She also wants protections for people with pre-existing conditions upheld, believing that “it can be done at no cost to taxpayers through the Arizona Department of Insurance requiring that all insurers licensed in Arizona must not exclude coverage for persons with pre-existing conditions.”
Reducing Poverty and Homelessness
Endorsed by the Arizona Chapter of National Association of Social Workers, she believes it is tragic that up to a fifth of the children in this state are “food insecure,” potentially going to bed starving (“no child should have to go to bed hungry”) while homelessness individuals are incarcerated for trespassing so they can find a place to sleep. Believing that a “community that cares for the most vulnerable is a community where businesses grow,” she thinks Republican policies towards the needy are “an embarrassment.” Arizona has one of the most restrictive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. She favors policies and programs that:
• Provide safe places for the homeless to live and be trained to transition back into society.
• Provide quality education because that helps lift children out of poverty.
• Provide free meals during the summer for children who rely on free meals during the school year.
• Provide greater investments in Mental Health.
• Allow for reasonable TANF assistance.
• Food assistance for families that cannot work full time due to illness.
Criminal Justice Reform
She wants to get rid of private prisons and the payment structures that go with them (including the 90+% guaranteed occupancy payments). She wants sentencing rates for non-violent offenders lessened. She favors the legalization of marijuana (a potential source of revenue) as well as the legal acceptance of sports and game betting (which could also be a needed tax source).
Gun and School Safety
She wants all state agencies that provide information into the background databases to actually provide and update all current information into the system. Otherwise, this becomes a “gaping wound” because the universal background system has gaping holes and inaccuracies. She wants the state to utilize existing “danger to others” laws to prevent dangerous persons from causing harm. She is concerned that proposals for new laws for institutionalizing persons must avoid our relatively recent history of locking up disrespectful spouses and LGBTQ. She supports greater numbers in counselors, school psychologists, and teachers (which lead to smaller class sizes) that will lead to greater individualized care and “human connectedness” in schools that lead to the preventable detection of problems before they fester. She does not support the arming of teachers or school resource officers.
She believes this is largely a federal issue but believes the state should make sure families in custody should be housed and treated in a “humane way.” Arizona’s facility licensing requirements should be enforced so that children are safe—especially mandatory background checks and humane facilities. She thinks I.C.E. should be reformed and the current barrier forms of border security (drones, motion sensors, etc.) have been largely effective in Arizona.
Equal Rights Amendment
Supports it and finds it “sad” that we are still talking about it 40 years later. She favors equal pay for equal work.
Fully supports and chastises her opponent, Ms. Barto for attempting to try reactionary legal measures to restrict these rights. She worries what Republicans might do if still in power now that the current administration is no longer preventing discrimination based upon sexuality or gender expression. The State, through the Legislature, needs to codify these rights.
A Woman’s Right to Choose
Endorsed by both Planned Parenthood and Arizona’s List, Ms. MacBeth fully supports a woman’s right to choose and access to birth control (a position her opponent, Ms. Barto does not and her Anti Abortion and Anti Birth Control voting record prove it; the same with Mr. Allen). She believes that no one should “interfere with the doctor-patient relationship.” She also supports revoking the law that permits pharmacists to refuse birth control medications or hormone therapy prescribed by doctors. Like sexual preference, she is worried that the existing 1960s law prohibiting abortion would be the law of the land and what, a Republican-led legislature would do if Roe versus Wade was overturned. She fully supports Planned Parenthood, openly wondering what her Republican opponents have against women going to get affordable or free mammogram checks at a Planned Parenthood clinic.
Fighting Dark Money Interests and the War for Democracy
She supports the Outlaw Dirty Money Ballot Initiative. She believes that the reporting and auditing process of donor information, relinquished to the Internal Revenue Service (who recently said they would not pursue these matters), needs to be restored at the state level and conducted during the election year so all voters know in real time who is donating to what candidate and how much.
She supports voter registration through the Motor Vehicle Department. She supports campaigns run by Clean Elections and condemns those on the reactionary right who berate it and try to hide knowledge from the voters by trying to undercut it. She also wants all early voting sites restored and the law banning third parties from bringing signed and sealed ballots to polling locations (an attack she feels was targeted towards Native Americans and other Democratic-leaning voters) repealed.
Ms. MacBeth is very pleased with the enthusiasm this election year. She has seen attendance at monthly Democratic Party meetings skyrocket from eight to one hundred. With her volunteers, she has been crisscrossing the district knocking on doors, hosting house parties and coffee sessions, interacting with P.C.’s and participating in community events. She also has a presence on social media and has been placing both Facebook and Google Ads as well as mailers.
Feeling that local issues matter more given the alt-right and deregulatory direction of the current Presidential administration, she sees the opportunity for the surging Democrats to give people the voice they deserve and shift the balance of power at the legislature and at the very least, help steer the budget process so areas like education, infrastructure, and protecting our most vulnerable are addressed.
The Democrats, Independents, and disaffected Republicans are very fortunate to have a multitude of choices for a change in 2018. Tonya MacBeth, like her primary opponents, offers a positive voice and advocacy for social justice and forward change. Her mature and centrist-progressive program is one that the voters in the district should find receptive. They should seriously consider her candidacy when voting on August 28 and November if she emerges from the primary.
For more information on Ms. MacBeth and her Republican opponents, please research the links below.