Judy Schwiebert hopes to be one of the incoming Arizona Democratic Freshman class in 2021 when she wins a seat to the Arizona State Legislature in the 2020 elections from Legislative District 20.
Legislative District 20, which includes parts of Phoenix, Moon Valley, and Glendale has been in Republican hands since its formation in 2012. Democrats have been competitive in most of the election cycles, coming within striking distance of taking at least one of the House seats in 2018.
The current Legislative District 20 Republican Representatives are Anthony “Bad Cop” Kern and Shawnna “I finally found a district that will take me” Bolick.
In contrast, Judy Schwiebert has spent her life in the LD20 neighborhood as a mom, teacher and community leader. She raised two sons as a single mom there, taught in the Glendale Union High School and Peoria Unified School Districts for 27 years, volunteered in the Paradise Valley schools, and was a co-founder of Theater Works, the westside’s community theater.
As for so many other educators, it was the 2016 election that motivated her to get more involved in politics. She co-founded the issues-based Desert Progressives Indivisible which she grew to over 1,000 activists concerned about threats to their healthcare, voting rights, environment, public schools, and more. Through that work, she became especially concerned about the state legislature’s failure to listen to people’s concerns, especially their repeated demands to invest in our public schools.
Meeting at Luci’s at The Orchard, Ms. Schwiebert sat down and responded to questions about her qualifications for office and the goals she intended to pursue if she is elected.
The questions and Ms. Schwiebert’s responses are below.
- Please tell the reader about yourself (education and experiences).
“I grew up here in Arizona where my dad started out as a shop teacher and supported our family of five on his teaching salary. He really taught me the value of hard work and inspired me with his passion for education. So, I became a teacher myself – and even after becoming a single mom, managed to support us doing the work I loved. More recently, though, while volunteering with a master second-grade teacher, I learned that she had to work four jobs to make ends meet. She finally left Arizona for a much higher paying teaching job in another state. And she’s not the only one. Children in over 1600 Arizona classrooms had no permanent qualified teacher last year. That is tragic. As a mom and grandmother, that breaks my heart. We’re losing the potential of a whole generation of young people – and risking our community’s economic future, too. We need to put our families first
- Please tell the reader what are at least three qualifications you have for the Legislative seat you are seeking.
“First, as a teacher, I’ve spent my life working with others to get things done. Second, I’m smart enough to know that I don’t know everything, and so we need to listen to each other to solve our challenges. Also, both my parents taught me the value of persistence and hard work. My dad was that guy who could fix anything. He taught me to roll up my sleeves and work as long as it took to get the job done. I know that when we work together, we can make Arizona a place where everyone thrives.”
- What are at least two reasons you would be a better public servant than your likely Republican opponent?
“First, this district is my home. I’ve lived, worked, volunteered and attended church here all my adult life. I’m listening to my neighbors, not outside interests, and am committed to representing us and fighting for our families. Secondly, both my opponents have proudly called themselves ideologues and said they shouldn’t be working with others. In fact, one of them in particular (Kern), has been a real obstructionist. As chair of the rules committee, he’s killed many bills that would have helped our families because he didn’t personally like the legislation. For example, during the last session, he blocked the Dignified Changes bill to provide adult-sized changing tables in newly built government buildings. Eventually, a bipartisan group of representatives managed to get it around his committee to the floor, and it passed almost unanimously. We send our legislators there to represent us and work together for the people of Arizona, not follow their own personal allegiance to outside groups.
- If elected, please describe the top two education issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
- “Even after Red for Ed, we’re still $800 million short per year from where we were before the recession. We need to invest in our public schools where 95% of our children attend.”
- “We need to provide funding to attract and retain teachers and increase salaries.”
- We need to fix buildings and reduce class sizes.”
- “We need to restore funding to community colleges. My dad used to harp on how important they are. They’re an efficient pipeline to a great workforce.”
- If elected, please describe the top two healthcare issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
- “We need to make sure everyone has access to quality, affordable healthcare and protect people with pre-existing conditions. No one should have to go bankrupt because they’re sick. We need to offer quality options based on choice and competition. One possible solution might be a Medicaid buy-in so that people who make too much to qualify for the state program, but not enough to purchase private insurance can have access to more affordable health care.”
- “I support the dental care program for pregnant women introduced the last session. For a small investment, we can prevent later health care costs for not just parents and children, but for all of us down the line.”
- “I’m glad that they lifted the freeze on Kids Care. We need to ensure that all children are healthy.”
- If elected, please describe the top two sustainability issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
- “Renewable energy is the foundation of the Twenty-First Century economy. We need to make sure we are not missing the boat on that. With all our sunshine in Arizona, it only makes sense to take advantage of solar energy and reduce utility costs for people on fixed incomes..”
- “Water is an enormous issue. We can’t forget that we live in a desert and need to use water in a sustainable way. For example, it makes sense to use reclaimed water on things like golf courses.”
- If elected, please describe the top two helping children issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
- “We should invest in Pre K full-day education and help middle and lower-class families pay for it. It is about lifting up the whole family and reinvesting in the whole community.”
- “We also need to fix issues with our foster care and childcare system. Arizona should be a safe place for every child to grow.”
- If elected, please describe the top two helping the most vulnerable issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
- “Affordable housing: Though Arizona has a reputation as an affordable place to live, housing prices and rents have been going up and up. We need to figure out how to make sure we have enough affordable housing available to young people who are just starting out– and to those on fixed incomes. Anyone who works full time, or has spent a lifetime working hard should be able to put a roof over their head and food on the table. We should fully restore the housing trust fund.”
- “We need to address homelessness on several fronts, and I’d like to work with experts on how to best address this problem.”
- If elected, please describe the top two law enforcement issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
- “We need to build trust between law enforcement and our communities. I’ll focus on supporting programs that will help build and maintain that trust.”
- “We need to listen to the police and other leaders who are studying ways to make our communities safe from gun violence.”
- If elected, please describe the top two immigration issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
- “Immigration is a federal issue that has long been neglected. We need to hold our federal officials accountable for reform.”
- “We need to treat everyone in this state with dignity and respect. No more demonizing on both sides of the issue. Heather Carter proposed a bill I liked last year that was also backed by the Chamber. It would have allowed any Arizona high school graduate to be eligible for in-state tuition at our community colleges. We’ve already invested in these young people, so as they prepare to enter our workforce, it makes sense to give them the chance to be productive members of our community.”
- “We need to have safe and secure borders. We also need to have a viable system for screening people with legitimate asylum claims. We should not be making people’s lives hell.”
- If elected, please describe the top issues facing women, minorities, and the LGBTQ communities that you would like to focus on as a legislator?
- “We need to reduce the number of maternal delivery fatalities during and after delivery.”
- “We need to treat all Arizonans with dignity and respect. A few years ago, SB 1062 (thankfully, vetoed by Brewer) tried to ban local nondiscrimination ordinances. We should go in the opposite direction and pass a state-wide non-discrimination ordinance. We should not be making life difficult for people. We should use the Golden Rule as our guide in how we treat people. Discrimination is bad for the economy.”
- If elected, please describe the top two government reform issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
- “I support the Outlaw Dirty Money Campaign and believe we have to reclaim our democracy based on one person one vote. The influence of dark money from APS to buy the Corporation Commission is a textbook example of the importance of transparency in our elections.”
- “I want to establish a separate bipartisan ethics commission to address the ethics problems in the Legislature.”
- Is there anything you would like to let the reader know about yourself that has not been addressed by the previous questions.
“I’m a smart, hardworking teacher with deep roots in this district. I’ve been listening – and will continue to listen to my neighbors. I hear that people are fed up with our state’s failure to invest in our public schools and put our families first. I’ll work hard with others to make sure that everyone in Arizona has the chance to thrive.”
During the most recent session in the Arizona State Legislature, Representatives Bolick and Kern voted for a budget that shortchanged education and aid to the most vulnerable in favor of more tax cuts. They also voted for reducing the minimum wage for full-time students.
In an earlier term, Mr. Kern voted for:
- Allowing “non-lethal” weapons on college campuses. How is any weapon non-lethal?
- Putting obstacles in place for the initiative and referendum process.
- Firearm sales without the benefit of background checks.
- Repealing campaign finance and disclosure measures.
- Not allowing our most vulnerable to have increased access to social justice programs.
What part of this collective record of reactionism and backwardness would appeal to the residents in Legislative District 20?
Judy Schwiebert is a candidate that offers a forward inclusive vision that puts people first.
Voters should consider her qualifications and positions on the issues when considering who to vote for in November 2020.