The new Arizona Legislative District (LD) Nine, which includes significant portions of Mesa, represents a solid pick-up opportunity for Democratic State House and Senate Candidates Lorena Austin, Seth Blattman, and Eva Burch.
Is it because the district skews predominantly toward the Democratic Party?
No. The new LD Nine is fairly evenly divided.
What makes this district a good electoral opportunity for Democrats is the Republican Party, in its apparent suicide pact with the Cult of Trump, has selected three candidates: Mary Ann Mendoza, Kathy Pearce, and Robert Scantlebury whose combined Anti-Semitic, Big Lie 2020 Election, and anti-choice views may drive independents and sane-minded Republicans into the arms of the three Democratic candidates.
Whereas these Republican candidates cater to the extremist cult of Trump fringe and preach division, both Austin and Blattman call for unity, inclusion, and legislation to:
- Fully fund public education.
- Protect a woman’s right to choose.
- Protect a person’s vote.
- Ensure affordable housing and rent.
- Safeguard the water supply and combat climate change.
Ms. Austin and Mr. Blattman graciously took the time together to respond to questions about their candidacy for the Arizona State House in the new LD Nine.
The questions and their responses are below.
- Please advise what are at least three main issues in the legislative race for LD Nine and why they should choose you over your opponents.
Lorena: “My main issues are, education, housing, climate, and then obviously, abortion/reproductive justice, which has been a galvanizing topic this election season.
It’s very important to fully fund public education; it’s what Arizona voters want. We need a Legislature that will listen to the will of its constituents.
Housing is a big issue for me in our district, especially for our working-class residents who are being affected by the lack of rent control and private investors who buy up family housing and turn them into wild profits or, Airbnbs/short terms rentals. I’m concerned this amazing community I grew up in won’t look the same in the next five to ten years. We’re seeing a lot of people being displaced and having to move because they simply can’t afford to live here anymore.
Residents are concerned about Arizona’s water crisis and climate change. In fact, I was observing a local city council meeting three years ago. Their main topic centered around entering the water conservation stages in Mesa, and now we’re here living it. As a state, I don’t believe we took the steps necessary to help curtail our current climate crisis. At the state level, we need to bring creative solutions to the table to ensure generations of Arizonans can continue to call this place home.
The final issue is access to abortion and reproductive healthcare. Since there are no longer federal protections, it will be up to us to ensure that our residents have access to quality healthcare and resources they need to make well-informed decisions.”
Seth: “Lorena and I overlap on most things.
I think the economy is certainly top of mind for a lot of people. As a business owner, I want to help small businesses. I want to help working-class families as we face this time of rising prices and economic uncertainty. Related to the economy is the state of Education. We are 49th in the nation in per-pupil spending; being at the bottom of the barrel in anything is bad, let alone how much we’re investing in our children’s future. We need to get out of the bottom five if we’re going to build that economy for tomorrow.
Abortion is top of mind for many voters. This is not a 50 50 issue. The vast majority of people in Arizona support the constitutional right that was taken away from us, and that leads into my final issue which is reforming government. An issue like abortion that’s overwhelmingly supported by Arizonans yet our legislature does the opposite. The fact that Proposition 208 passed to give a billion dollars to public schools or that vouchers in a previous proposition didn’t get expanded, but the legislature again does the opposite. The fact that time and again our representatives go against the will of people tells me that we need reform. Government ethics reform and campaign, finance reform to start. We also need to fight voter suppression and expand access to the ballot box. Structural reforms to make the legislature more reflective of the will of the people.”
Have any voters that you’ve canvased with talked about rising gas or food prices and how would you address that?
Lorena: “I think the dependency we have on basic goods, like baby formula, is a conversation that comes up when we talk about economic investments here in the United States. There are basic goods that could be made here in the U.S. and those investments could create more jobs and strengthen supply chains. Gas is the one that kind of comes up or was coming up the most. But since we’ve seen prices decline, I haven’t heard about it too much in the past few weeks.”
“I would still say the issue that we most hear about at the doors is, is abortion.”
Seth: “Rising prices, the cost of gas, rising rents, these are the concerns we hear the most often at doors. I listened to an interview with Katie Hobbs earlier and she said she had a plan for inflation and cutting down costs for Arizonans. I double down on everything Katie Hobbs says which includes a state-wide child tax credit, making diapers and baby formula tax exempt, making school supplies tax-exempt, and tax credits for career and technical training”
Have any of the people you can with talked about, uh, funding the police?
Seth: “Since it’s a purple district, it comes up a bit but overall I’d say rarely. You’re going to knock on some people’s doors, some of the more conservative people’s doors who are going to hear that you’re a Democrat and they’re going to immediately assume you’re in favor of defunding the police. And I like to quash that idea by saying I fully support our police. I just think we need some reform in policing. We need to help police do their jobs by taking some of the burdens off of them. That we’ve heaped upon them. We could be having social workers or mental health professionals or addiction experts handling a big bulk of their work so that they can focus the policing and less so on some of the situations that have resulted in the outcomes that have rightfully raised this issue to the forefront”
Lorena: “I’ve gotten more second amendment questions but I haven’t gotten one on funding the police yet.
I’ve gotten border wall questions. I received my degree in immigration policy, so I welcome the conversation. I acknowledge how broken our immigration system is and the need for reform is in great need. I also explain how building “the wall” is nothing more than a glorified statement piece and has nothing to do with saving us money because apprehensions are down at the border. Most people come here legally. Some people don’t want to hear me out, yet there have been a few that were willing to discuss.”
- Please describe your campaign strategy to reach out to voters in a new LD Nine including Independents and disaffected Republicans.
Seth: “We’re not trying to win this district to be representatives of just Democrats. We plan to represent all the people of LD Nine and the state of Arizona, including Independents and Republicans. That’s why we knock on the doors of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans. When I knock on the doors of Independents or Republicans, they have the same concerns as everyone else. Everyone feels the effect of rising prices. People are all concerned about the quality of education they’re receiving in our public schools, and people across the board, especially young women, are passionate about regaining, the constitutional right that was taken away.”
Lorena: “My family’s been in this district for a hundred years. So now that I’ve been out knocking on doors, it’s easy for me to connect on a high level. It seems so simple to say, I’m from here too and I have deep roots in this community. I understand the uniqueness of this community and understand that we don’t all have the same perspective. You have to understand the different nuances of residents that call LD9 home. I’ve been very honest about the fact that we have to change how we interact with this community. There are communities within LD nine that haven’t really been sought after for their opinion. For example, we’ve been very intentional in ensuring that we go to doors with a high percentage of Spanish speakers. I went knocking one day and I want to say 99 percent of the doors I visited were Spanish speaking. I’m grateful that I speak Spanish and have been able to talk to voters at their door. And they’re just excited to see someone at their door, some have never had candidates come introduce themselves. Our team is very diverse and I’m very proud of that. We’ve been able to hit different pockets of our community and relay a message in a comprehensive way that they understand. Essentially, we have a team that understands this community. So, I think that’s why we’re going to be successful because we’re actually being intentional about reaching every facet of our community, not just the ones we think will vote for us in November.”
Seth. “Lorena said that so well, I want to end with right there, but just on disaffected Republicans specifically. I’m a business owner. I grew up in Arizona and talked to a Republican and explained to them that I am a business owner and I have an MBA. I am a capitalist. Sometimes you talk to Republicans that have a notion in their head that Democrats are not pro-business so dispelling that notion is something I take pride in doing because Democrats are pro-business. And the economy under Democratic administrations does better than when under Republican administrations. So, I always enjoy talking with disaffected Republicans and dispelling information they may have received because sometimes they only watch one cable news network. Most Republicans in our district are not extremists. Most of the Republicans in our district are just working-class people trying to put food on the table and maybe align with the Republican party from a few years ago when they stood for a small government and lower taxes. They’re not on board with the current brand of extremism we see today.”
- Is there anything I covered in the first two questions that you would like the voters to know about you and your candidacy for the State House?
Lorena: “We’re running against some very extreme candidates, not even moderate in the sense of the word. Kathy Pierce is the sister of Russell Pierce, who is known for being the only sitting legislator to be recalled in the state of Arizona from this area as a result of his support of SB1070 and Sheriff Arpaio sweeps. This community played a major role in his recall. And then we have Mary Ann Mendoza, who is so extreme, that she was cut from an RNC video for being too Antisemitic and retweeting alt-right-nationalist tweets. So, I think the choice is clear, this extreme Republican slate that we’re seeing is very alarming and establishes a sense of urgency that is needed to elect Democratic legislators, especially in a competitive district like LD9.
We need everyone and anyone to come and assist LD Nine if possible. If you know this community, or even if you walk around LD 9, you’ll see quickly that racist rhetoric and extremism is not representative of our community in any way, shape, or form, which makes it even more important that they do not win.”
Seth: “I thought Lorena said it great. We are in the most competitive, most flippable district in the state of Arizona. This district votes 50% Democrat, and 50% Republican, and the views of our opponents do not represent this district. Their views represent an extreme faction in their party and that’s all they’re interested in representing. They’re not interested in representing everyone in LD Nine. They’re not interested in representing all Republicans, Independents, and Democrats. On the other hand, I know the slate of Democrats running in LD Nine plan to represent the entire district, we plan to represent us all.”
Please click on the below social media links for more information on Lorena Austin and Seth Blattman on their candidacies for the State House in the new LD Nine.