One of the reasons Democrats are poised to make gains in the State Legislature in 2018 is the recruitment of stellar and compelling candidates to run for the Senate and House. One of these candidates is Legislative District 18 candidate Jennifer Jermaine who is running to replace Republican Incumbent State House Representative Jill Norgaard, a conservative who subscribes to the failed trickle-down theory of economic and social justice policy.
Arizona LD 18 includes all or parts of Tempe, Mesa, Chandler, and Ahwatukee. It is one of several districts that have become increasingly blue. Republicans are no longer the number one political party in the district. Currently, Democrat Mitzi Epstein is the other current State House incumbent from the district and fellow Democrat Sean Bowie is the current State Senator from this area.
Previously profiled for Blog of Arizona along with Representative Epstein, Ms. Jermaine agreed to a follow-up interview where she responded to questions on the issues she was running on and the state of her campaign.
Please describe the three top issues the people want you to discuss the most when you meet with them.
- Public education. “We need to fully fund it. We need to do charter school reform. Representative Farnsworth is giving us a reason to vote Democrat with his deal for Ben Franklin. He should not be the only person on his Board of Directors. Norgaard has repeatedly voted for the laws and loopholes that enable this situation and the abuse of taxpayer dollars.”
Concerning the decision by the Arizona Supreme Court Ruling taking the Invest in Ed issue off the ballot, Ms. Jermaine said:
“1. Hundreds of thousands of voters exercised their Constitutional right to petition the government for change and I am disappointed that the voters of Arizona will not be allowed to decide on these issues.
“2. For education funding, we need to take a serious look at the priorities in our state budget. Can we reverse engineer some of the funding cuts? Where did the money go? Why was public education de-prioritized? I will continue to work with Invest in Ed leaders to come up with new solutions. This needs to be a broad discussion with all of the stakeholders. No more closed meetings or midnight hearings.”
Attacks by the House Victory PAC on Jermaine are “blatantly false and show that the House Republican Caucus, who the PAC represents, has no interest in working in a bipartisan manner to fix our education crisis.”
- Access to health insurance: “People are afraid about the loss of coverage for individuals with preëxisting conditions.” She favors a Medicaid/AHCCCS buy-in, where people pay a premium for this public option like any other insurance company, commenting that the “Medicaid system in Arizona is extremely good, financially efficient, well run, and better for people under the age of 65.”
- Fears of losing civil rights, stating that “people are afraid of going backward. The disability community has seen rollbacks of protections and communities of color seeing targeting and racial profiling. We are having big inequities in school discipline practices. The LGBTQ community has few protections in Arizona. In Arizona, you can be legally fired or kicked out of the apartment complex because you are gay. None of that is right.”
- “Fear of Roe v. Wade being overturned is being felt from Democrats, Republicans and even religious people who are worried about privacy and religious concerns.” This becomes a state level concern if and when we revert back to these pre-Roe laws. Norgaard has gone on record with the Center for Arizona Policy wanting a total ban on abortion without an exception for rape, incest, or the life of the mother. Norgaard championed bills like SB1394 which requires physicians to ask invasive and non-medically necessary questions about why a woman seeks to terminate a pregnancy and then report those statistics back to the state. Jermaine previously testified that “SB1394 is meant to intimidate and bully women and creates an unfunded mandate on our medical providers as they do not get reimbursed by insurance companies or DHS for the appointment time spent asking these questions or filling out the required reports.”
- The Arizona Supreme Court kicking the Outlaw Dirty Money Ballot Initiative off the ballot, commenting that “for Dark Money, we can start by repealing HB2153 and allow cities, like Tempe — where it passed with 90% of the vote — to pass campaign finance reform ordinances at the local level.
Do the people have the same views that you have about your opponents? Please explain.
“Generally yes. There are occasional outliers but when you break down the party barrier and talk about the issues, there is genuine concern about each of those topics.”
Now that the primaries are over, what are the three major get-out-the-vote strategies are utilizing?
- Phone banking
- Digital marketing
Describe your debate experiences against your opponents and how your performance contrasted with theirs?
“As the only political newcomer, I feel that I held my own in the debates. I demonstrated my understanding of the issues and clearly answered the questions. Norgaard has not been showing up consistently to debates and public forums.”
Your opponents and their allies will try (or already have) to paint both of your views and ideas as Socialistic and weak. Please advise how you would counter that.
“I am an American. I want us to continue to progress towards equality for all under the eyes of the law. I want children of this generation to have the same opportunities to succeed as the children of previous generations. Right now, because of the cuts to public education, they do not. I would argue these are things that a maturing democracy does and it furthers the principles laid out in the preamble to our Constitution. My opponents try to change the narrative and call me names and making up lies because they are afraid to discuss the issues. Arizona is facing real problems. We have a serious teacher shortage and the education crisis that will affect our economy for a generation if we do not address it now. They have kicked the can down the road and ignored it in hopes it will go away. I am ready to lead.”
To what extent have the Democrats, Independents, and disaffected Republicans rallied behind you in the district?
“I have broad support from each of those groups. My work in the community has earned their respect and trust. They know that I’m the kind of person who rolls up my sleeves and gets stuff done based on my 15 years of service to the nonprofit industry.”
She also relayed that independents and independent-leaning Republicans have host house parties for her.
If elected, what would be the first three pieces of legislation both of you would advance?
- “I will introduce a bill to fix special education funding so that it follows the student for the entire year, and not just the first 100 days so district schools can still receive funding.”
- “I will co-sponsor the Equal Rights Amendment so that Arizona can be the 38th state to ratify it. We are one state away from gender equality being added to our Constitution.”
- “I will co-sponsor the repeal of our harmful pre-Roe laws that target women’s healthcare.”
Please advise what are at least two things you want the voters to know about each of you that has not been covered in the questions so far?
- “I like to listen to the whole story and all sides of the argument before making a decision.”
- “I am not a politician. I am a mom that has had enough of the attacks on our schools and on intrusions into our daily lives.”
When voting in LD 18 this election season, voters should research Ms. Jermaine and her views on the issues facing the local area and the state. Links to her social media sites are below. Most will probably find that she is a compelling hardworking studious progressive candidate who has a solid grasp of most of the issues facing the district. She has been endorsed by organizations like Emily’s List, Moms Demand Action, the AFL-CIO, The Sierra Club, and Women for Justice. If elected, she will bring an inclusive forward-looking approach to the State House this January. Voters should strongly consider her as a candidate this election season.
Full Disclosure: The writer of this piece is a P.C. in Democratic Local District 18.