Javier Soto wants to “give Blue Collar working families in LD3 and Southern Arizona a strong voice at our State Capitol” as one of the next State House Representatives from Legislative District (LD) Three.
The district, a reliably Democratic-leaning area in Tucson, will send two Democrats back to the State House in 2021.
Mr. Soto would like to be one of them.
A leader in the Pima Area Labor Federation, Mr. Soto has devoted his adult life to making the Tucson community better for those less fortunate.
He has participated in Habitat for Humanity Housing projects and has been a consistent advocate for worker rights.
If elected, he would fight to:
- Raise wages for workers in Arizona.
- Increase funding for Medicaid and KidsCare.
- Improve teacher pay and teaching conditions.
- Provide full-day kindergarten and preschool to low-income families.
- Preserve the clean water supply and protect national monuments from corporate interests.
Mr. Soto graciously took the time to discuss his candidacy for the State House and his views on the important issues facing today’s legislators.
The questions and his responses are below.
- Please tell the reader about yourself (education and experiences).
“I grew up on the southside of Tucson. I was integrated into high school and bussed across town to Catalina High School. I have been an electrician for most of my life and a Journeyman Wireman at the IBEW Local 570 for the last 13 years. Around three years ago, a good friend of mine and an organizer with the IBEW, Jimmy C., asked me if I would consider working for the hall as an organizer to help increase membership and rebuild the local and I accepted.”
“In the past three years, we have managed to organize over 400 new members in the Tucson area. Shortly after I started, I was asked to be the Registrar for our Local. I am responsible for making sure our members are registered to vote and have the information needed to vote in the interests of organized labor and working families. I was also assigned to be a Pima Area Labor Federation (PALF) Delegate. I see firsthand what this Federation means to our community and how it works to improve and support the working families of Southern AZ.”
“We in the Federation have legislative meetings when the State Legislature is in session. I became the vice-chair of the PALF Legislative Committee and later the Chair. We have meetings every Friday and go over the Arizona bills being proposed. I started to understand the state legislative process and felt that labor should be involved in creating bold legislation and actively oppose legislation that harms the middle class. I educate our membership and the general public through monthly union meetings, social media, and person-to-person conversations. It is extremely important to spread the information learned from the weekly legislative meetings to people who have limited knowledge of what is happening at the Capitol that would directly affect them. There is much more that can and should be done and I decided to do more by running for House Representative in my district.”
- Please tell the reader what are at least three qualifications you have for the Legislative seat you are seeking.
“As an organizer, I give people the opportunity for better wages and healthcare. I give them a chance to make a better life for their family and I would like to do that for all of Arizona. I will be a fighting voice in the legislature for working families and union values.”
“My position as the registrar for our local and my involvement with PALF has put me in the mix of local politics. Meeting with our local leaders and building relationships with them is part of my job. We interview candidates who are running for Mayor or City Council and those who are running for State Representative asking for an endorsement from PALF. I also go through this process with my local union.”
“I wouldn’t say that following the state and federal legislature qualifies me for anything but knowing what types of bills are being created, by whom, and who is benefiting from them gives me an insight as to what needs to happen in our Legislature.”
- What are at least two reasons you would be a better public servant than your likely Republican opponent?
“In this election, there are no Republican opponents unless you include Democrats receiving money from corporate lobbyists.”
“As a union organizer, my mission is not just to recruit electricians but also to give them the opportunity to succeed. I go out and find those who are being underpaid and oppressed by their employer and educate them. We are somewhat life counselors for our members in the way that we encourage them to take advantage of our training. They come to us when they are having problems on the job or at home because they know they can trust us to have their back and the connections that we have with our members makes us like family. This type of connection is what I live for. I am not running for the State Legislature as a stepping-stone in politics or to ride the wave of dark money. I am doing this for the working families that I know, that we all know, who are underserved at the Capitol.”
- If elected, please describe the top two education issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“The Invest in Ed movement needs to continue, and we need to increase funding for education and increase teacher salaries. It is not about throwing money at the problem. It is about teacher retention, curbing high turnover rates, and keeping effective and passionate teachers in the classroom. Arizona is ranked in the last five states for education in the nation depending on the metric that you use.”
“We need to cut those tax credits and loopholes that take money away from our public school districts. Charter schools are out of control, popping up everywhere in Arizona, with no accountability whatsoever. We need to hold them to the same standards as our Unified School Districts.”
“Rural broadband is necessary for people in rural areas to receive adequate access to the Internet. Children and adults that are in school are at a disadvantage and will fall behind without high-speed internet access.”
“As far as getting a degree through Community College I believe that we should have access to getting an Associate’s Degree as free as possible. In fact in the Arizona Constitution Article 11 section 6 states
“Admission of students of both sexes to state educational institutions; tuition; common school system.”
“The university and all other state educational institutions shall be open to students of both sexes, and the instruction furnished shall be as nearly free as possible. The legislature shall provide for a system of common schools by which a free school shall be established and maintained in every school district for at least six months in each year, which school shall be open to all pupils between the ages of six and twenty-one years.“”
- If elected, please describe the top two healthcare issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“We need to adequately fund AHCCCS and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Cancers are spreading in our society and on an epidemic scale and we are now facing a deadly Coronavirus pandemic that top researchers are barely starting to understand. We have all been directly affected by this virus. These terrible diseases not only kill but also destroy families with the outrageous costs of treatments and medications. I would like to see these treatments covered for everyone in Arizona.”
“I do like the idea of a Telehealth program for people who are showing minor symptoms and require a non-opioid prescription if they are in fact speaking with a qualified physician. It may even help keep the price of Insurance programs down by not having people visit the Emergency room as often when an infection is not dealt with early.”
“Community Hospitals are a critical component of any rural areas well being and should be adequately funded.”
- If elected, please describe the top two sustainability issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“We live in a desert, so water conservation is an issue. I would like to see the responsible usage of water from Agriculture Manufacturing and public use.
“As someone who has worked with electricity in Arizona for the past 30 years “from six volts to lightning bolts” as we say, I feel that energy needs to be addressed. Battery storage from solar produced power can and will be used by utility companies and I think that we should focus receiving our energy through these means.”
- If elected, please describe the top two helping children issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“Early childhood development. Funding for quality Preschools and Kidscare with access for any families that need it. Single-parent households may not always be the greatest environment to grow up in, but if there are resources like after-school programs, tutoring, and sport development programs that these children can attend it would be a great help to the child and to the single working parent.”
“I believe Kinship Care can be an effective tool to keep family members together when a parent can no longer care for their own children. The child is more likely to be comfortable with family and the bond between family members is more likely stronger than with foster parents.”
- If elected, please describe the top two helping the most vulnerable issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“We must help the elderly people who have spent their entire life in Southern Arizona. They shouldn’t be suffering from poverty and neglect in their golden years. They should be protected and given the resources to maintain a life after leaving the workforce. Quality housing, which may include fixing up their homes and access to physicians and prescriptions they can afford.”
“Homelessness is a major issue that no one seems to know the answer to and to be honest neither do I. But I would like to start the discussion on how to prevent it from happening in the first place and to do what we can to help those who want help that is out on the streets.”
- If elected, please describe the top two law enforcement issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“Our local law enforcement agencies should be adequately funded so they will not feel the need to compromise themselves for Federal funding from programs like Operation Stonegarden. Also, this funding should go towards mandatory de-escalation training and increased oversight. As a kid, I remember our Tucson police force seemed to connect with the community. They would even hand out Arizona Wildcats Basketball and Football player cards to us and we would all trade. It seems like such a small thing, but it was a sign of trust on both sides of the spectrum in which we appreciated them, and they bonded with us.”
- If elected, please describe the top two immigration issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“We need to repeal SB1070. This law is dangerous, and it targets people of color and allows racial profiling.”
“I would like to see the Dream Act signed into law, but until then we need to create protections for the thousands of dreamers living right here in Arizona.”
- If elected, please describe the top issues facing women, minorities, and the LGBTQ communities that you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“The solution, in one word, is equity! The Equal Rights Amendment must be passed and should also include members of the LGBTQ+ community. This legislation should be fought for at every single session until it is signed into law here in Arizona.
As a union member and organizer, we negotiate wages for our members based on their skill set and not on their gender, race, or sexual orientation. Every member who qualifies as a Journeyman Electrician gets equal pay no matter if they are a man or woman. This is what unions do in our workforce and I feel that this mindset could be expanded into Arizona Law with quite possibly requiring licensing for skilled tradesmen in our state.”
- If elected, please describe the top two government reform issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“I would like to see that if there are any corporate tax giveaways in order to bring business to our state that they come with stipulations that include strict oversight. These could include hiring a high percentage of workers locally with wage and benefit requirements for their hired workers. This along with training locals for position requirements.”
“We need to Outlaw Dirty Money in our state.”
- Are there any issues not mentioned in the previous questions that you feel should be addressed by the Legislature.
“I would like to see the ban on Project Labor Agreements for State projects repealed.”
“I would like to see Davis Bacon expanded to local projects as well. These requirements ensure that projects are done safely with qualified workers and that contractors and subcontractors meet project requirements. These include payroll and benefit standards across the board, safety conditions, prevent strikes and dispute resolutions.”
- Is there anything you would like to let the reader know about yourself that has not been addressed by the previous questions?
“I would just like to let people know that as a Native Tucsonan I have seen some ups and downs in our great City and I deeply care about Tucson and all of those who grew up here. I feel we can do better to grow economically and bring in better jobs outside of just the service industry. We can do better on Education and Training in order to prepare our youth for the next level in technology. With so many divisive issues Arizona is facing today, one thing that we can all agree on is that we have to work for a living. Arizonans deserve fair pay, good benefits, protections, and safety in our work environment, and to be able to retire with dignity. We grew up here and work all of our life building our great State and should be able to live our lives comfortably and not paycheck to paycheck.”
- Primary Election Day is on August 4, 2020, and General Election Day is on November 3. 2020. Please see the below graphic for all-important voting dates.
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