In what has become the designated meeting place for Legislative District 15 Democratic Candidates, the Starbucks at Tatum and Paradise Parkway, Julie Gunnigle ardently relayed why she would be the best candidate to work for the district’s constituents as one of the two State House Representatives after the November elections.
Ms. Gunnigle is one of three Democrats running for two State House seats in LD 15. The others are Jennifer Samuels and Tonya MacBeth. In what is a likely result of the prevailing political winds (The Trump Administration, the reactionary state Republican Legislature, and Governor beholden to Dark Money-Koch Interests), this is the first time in recent memory more than one Democrat is running to secure at least one of the State House seats.
Who is Julie Gunnigle?
A native of LD 15, Ms. Gunnigle graduated with a Law Degree from Notre Dame University and served as a Cook County Prosecutor in Illinois (where she participated in the indictment of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Cook County) before moving back with her family in 2011 to practice education (special needs including gifted), midwifery, veteran’s affairs, and reproductive rights law. Some of her work (veteran’s law for example) is performed on a pro bono basis. She also taught at Summit Law School and has been a member of the Arizona Association Advocating for the Gifted and Talented, advocating for special needs children and restoration of funding for them in front of the Arizona State Legislature for three years. She is also a wife and mother.
What are Ms. Gunnigles views on Governing?
Ms. Gunnigle, drawing on the governing model of Senate Minority Leader (and Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate) Steve Farley, believes that the best public servants are the ones that are responsive to their constituents by addressing their needs and concerns, answering their phone calls, and replying to their written correspondence.
A pragmatic progressive, she believes in “Good Government” and wonders since “when is it just progressivism that promotes clean air or the full funding of education.” She feels her education and experience-fighting corruption makes her the best candidate to promote “Good Government.” Finally, she believes local races matter more every day now that the Supreme Court appears to be going (hopefully temporarily) to a more pronounced conservative bent which could spell doom for a woman’s right to choose nationwide. This shift more than ever necessitates the need for local and state officeholders to have open, tolerant, pragmatic, and forward-looking views on the issues.
She feels that the Republican candidates for the LD 15 State House seats, Nancy Barto and John Allen, have been consistently unreceptive to the wishes of the people in the district, instead following the reactionary Koch driven party line on preserving dark money, suppressing democracy, and funding education to the point where some teachers have to get second jobs to live and foster and gifted children have to linger in uncertainty.
As a Clean Elections candidate and possible state representative, she pledges to work for the people in the district, fight corruption by reforming government ethics and restoring accountable democracy and trust in government, fully funding education and childcare, and upholding a women’s reproductive rights.
Julie Gunnigle on the Issues.
Ms. Gunnigle believes we need to fully fund K-12 education and “fill in the crater when we cut funding in 2008.” She supports the Invest in Ed Ballot Initiative and would look at broadening the tax base and tax credit system as a way to come up with the additional monies to fully fund education with strict sunrise and sunset provisions to avoid supermajority “polemics.”
Other ideas she has for education include:
- Ensuring that teacher salaries at least the national average.
- Providing Universal Pre School and other early education programs
- Fully funding full-day kindergarten.
- Fully compensating classified staff.
- Mandating that our schools be up to all safety, building, and environmental codes.
- Fully funding career pathways.
- Opposing the raising caps on private vouchers, noting conflicts of interest among one of the key legislators, stating that “we have a senator that is administering the largest voucher (S.T.O.) program in the state and is voting on its funding. The ethics committee, which he once headed, cleared him.” She is a hard no on vouchers expansion and reining in current vouchers except for special needs.
- Supports charter schools as long as the schools play by the same rules.
- Funding universities according to the constitution and Dreamers, like other in-state students, should get the benefit.
- Supporting free community college as long as there is a way to pay for it.
- Stop using state funds to fund the private Koch centers at the University of Arizona and Arizona State University and use those funds for public university utilization.
Dark Money and Fighting the War on Democracy and Corruption.
“Comprehensive ethics reform is needed to make sure legislators are not bought and sold and we need to reform conflict of interests laws. We need to rethink the way the law criminalizes bribery and honest services fraud to include the ‘winks and nod’ deals where money is traded for their influence. We also need to talk more about non compete agreements where politicians can leave public service and become a lobbyist. They should not be looking for a payday at the end of their term. They can not lobby at the end of service.” Finally, if a public servant has been accused and found to have harassed someone, that person cannot use public funds to settle with the victim.
“Clean elections needs to do more to make these elections competitive because opponents raise considerably more from dark money sources.” All campaign “sources should be revealed.” In 2016, John Allen voted for less transparency (more of a problem now that the IRS has ruled they will not require notice). She supports the Outlaw Dirty Money Initiative. Commenting that “legislators have been trying to subvert that (ballot) process, more so today and opponents subvert democracy with what they have done with the ballot process,” she calls for the restoration of the ballot initiative process to what it had been since 1916.
Growing the Economy and Good Paying Jobs
She supports a living wage with regional flexibility depending on where you live (Flagstaff is different than Kingman and those are different than Phoenix and Tucson).
Believing small businesses and investing in people are the key to a growing economy, she believes broadband is one of the key ingredients that will support and grow a small business, lower costs and bring jobs. Furthermore, business practices that subvert competition like non-compete contracts in low skill jobs should be done away with. This will result in wages going up. Full funding of childcare will also assist a growing economy because people will not be held back from their careers. She is amazed (in a negative way) that the state left 56,000,000 on the table for the federal block grant that could have partially gone to help in this area. She also feels that making health care costs lower, allowing employers to buy into Medicaid, and fully funding a quality public education system that attracts businesses so it has trained and gifted workers will also grow and enhance the local and state economy.
“Because of dark money and corruption, we would have green energy across the state. We should be the solar capital of the world.” She supports investments in green energy and the Clean Energy and Healthy Arizona Ballot Initiative. We need to “stop the dirty energy people from buying elections especially the corporation commission.”
They need to be made better and safer. They also need to make them safer for pedestrians.
Rail and Bussing
She supports investing in expanding high and light speed rail. She envisions the Paradise Valley Mall as a potential hub. She thinks, in theory, a railway from Tucson to Las Vegas has possibilities but wants to see the impact studies and wants to know the cost projections.
“We need municipal broadband. It is the best thing to do in order to expand prosperity and maintain net neutrality.” Arizona could be a major tech center.
Believes in conservation and reclamation efforts as well as smart farming and agricultural methods like reclaimed water in Fountain Hill’s fountains.
She believes that employers and employees should buy into Medicaid. If the Affordable Care Act is dismantled, single payer is the way eventually we go. “We need to get rid of corrupt officials and legislators so the process can be phased into ACCHSS. She thinks the idea of buying into city plans is interesting as well. She also supports the idea of lowering the costs of healthcare by changing its delivery. In particular, increasing the number of nurses, physician’s assistants, midwives, and other healthcare professionals for low-risk health patients which would improve health care outcomes and lower costs.
Reducing Poverty and Homelessness
Noting that one in five children in LD 15 relies on C.H.I.P. (the Children’s Health Insurance Program also known as Kids Care) and one in five are food insecure and find it hard to put food on the table, she is astonished when she hears the Republicans say the War on Poverty is over. It is not. She believes the state needs to fully fund anti-poverty and homelessness and C.H.I.P. programs. The cap should be removed on who can enroll in C.H.I.P. despite the federal funding cut off. She decries corporations as the biggest welfare recipients of them all and they and needs to do their fair share in addition to the generous $50.00 tax bill the state gives some of them. Reducing poverty is key to increasing education initiatives because they cannot teach kids who have not eaten, or their home utility bill is shut off.
Criminal Justice Reform
Private prisons need to go. The system needs to only incarcerate people (like violent offenders) that deserve be imprisoned. Bail reform is needed to root out those that will not probably be repeat offenders. Harsh sentences for non-violent possession offenses need to be reformed. The police deserve respect police but accountability from the bad apples should be demanded and expected.
Gun and School Safety
While supporting the Second Amendment, she stands with The March for Life’s positions on universal background checks, voiding bump stock, severe threat orders of protection and against the reciprocity for concealed carry where it would be a race to the bottom with the state with the loosest gun laws rules the day. She believes we need responsible gun ownership and we need to increase the minimum age to buy a weapon to 21 (the same age one is allowed to buy alcohol.)
With regards to schools, she is against arming of the teachers or school resource officers. She believes that you need to have security at the front office with doors leading to the classrooms locked up and safeguards like signing in and doors that cannot open from outside. She also supports more investments in school counselors and social workers where you can see warning signs before bad behavior materializes.
Illegal Immigration and Border Security.
“We need to have a system that is fair and humane while also having a strong border. We need to be humane in the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers. We need to do more at ports of entry where people are crossing legally in a fast and efficient manner.” Parents of Dreamers can stay as long as they are not breaking the law.
Equal Rights Amendment
She supports it. Furthermore, she wants to ensure that all victims of harassment are believed and not ridiculed.
She fully supports and relays that she has been endorsed by the Stonewall Democrats.
A Woman’s Right to Choose
She fully supports a woman’s right to choose and will fight to protect it. She would also like to change the conversation and talk about reproductive justice (everything leading up to pregnancy during, and after including comprehensive sex education, access to contraceptives, access to maternity care, and paid family leave). In particular, she believes that women should have access to evidence-based, respectful care during childbirth, something she has fought in the courtroom against Doug Ducey’s administration). “Doug Ducey is removing the choice of women deciding on who can attend them during childbirth and removing a woman’s ability to engage in truly informed consent.” These issues have far-reaching implications because if the state can make choices for when we enter the world, what about how we leave it in the case of the end of life decisions. We need to make sure that all humans have a right to bodily autonomy that is respected by our government.
Ms. Gunnigle has seen a complete “180” in the attitude of voters since the election of Donald Trump and the materialization of the Me Too and Red for Ed Movements. Saying, “people are excited and happy to see” her or a member of her campaign team at the door, she sees the energy of the people in her district wanting change.
She and her team are knocking on doors, trying to connect with all groups of potential voters, including the ones (like the young) who normally do not turn out. She has a social media presence (the links are below) and has participated in marches against corruption and keeping families together. She has also conducted several house parties and will have one with Gubernatorial Candidate Steve Farley on August 3, 2018. She and the two other candidates for the Democratic Nomination for the two State House seats met in a Clean Elections Debate in June. The link to that debate is below. She has received several endorsements including the State House Minority Leader Rebecca Rios, Representatives Cardenas, and Bolding, and is recommended by Arizona’s List.
The Democrats in Legislative District 15 are very fortunate this year to consider three qualified and stellar candidates for the two State House seats this year. They also have a very able State Senate Candidate in Kristin Dybvig-Pawleko. Julie Gunnigle would bring a dynamic and proactive persona to the State House as she pledges to work for her constituents concerns and needs as well as fight corruption and ethical misbehavior. Voters should seriously consider her qualifications and progressive ideas when voting this August.