With each passing day, Arizona Congressional District (CD) Six, which includes all or parts of Scottsdale, Cave Creek, North Phoenix, Paradise Valley, and Fountain Hills, is increasingly on the Democratic Party’s radar
The likable, but ethically flawed and largely reactionary incumbent David Schweikert, as recent polls seemed to indicate, is not finding the support he used to command in the continually demographically changing district.
Four very talented and exceptional Democrats are competing for their party’s nomination for the chance to become the next House Representative from CD Six.
One of those contenders whose impressive resume includes experience in entrepreneurship, philanthropy, and public service is Karl Gentles.
The son of a United States Air Force Veteran and husband of a United States Army Reserves veteran and current Ph.D. candidate, Mr. Gentles has had an extensive career that has shown him work in a bipartisan fashion for Arizona Governor Bruce Babbit’s 1988 Presidential Campaign and as a staff assistant for Senator John McCain.
Among his many entrepreneurial and philanthropic interests, Mr. Gentles is the Executive Director of the not for profit Back to Schools Clothing Drive, an organization that has, with the support and assistance of 30 organizations and 2500 volunteers, including some on David Schweikert’s staff, equipped many elementary-age children, with school uniforms their families could not afford.
In running for the House of Representatives, Mr. Gentles would bring an inclusive pragmatic progressive approach to his job. He, like the late Senator McCain, would work to put the interests of the country over himself. As a Representative from CD Six, he would focus on improving the “high quality of life” for the district’s residents. This would include:
- “Protecting working families, who are one lost paycheck away from losing a home, one catastrophic illness away from bankruptcy.”
- “Jobs, creating new, effective pathways for people to participate fully in our economy.”
- “Economic opportunity and development, and business success for the big guys and the little guys.”
- “Taking care of each other, including veterans, seniors, and our own parents and kids.”
- “And saying “no” to special interests to those who try to convince us to compromise our values.”
Mr. Gentles graciously took some time to discuss his candidacy to be the next House Representative from Congressional District Six.
The question and his responses are below.
- Please explain the reason you have chosen to run for Congress.
“I’m running for Congress because the state of our union is broken and our country is in crisis. It’s imperative that we elect leaders who will fix and solve our problems. We need clear-minded problem solvers that unite and not divide, and are not afraid to shatter the status quo to get things done on behalf of the people of this district, our state, and our nation.”
“I am running for Congress to stand up for families and communities so that they treated fairly, that social and economic justice prevails, and everyone is treated with respect and dignity.” I will ensure we address the little fires anywhere, at every turn, and in any form, they spark up – economic, social, racial – before they become big fires everywhere.”
“We must hold our government accountable – from the White House to the statehouse, and yes, to the streets of our nation which we see today in Minneapolis and other cities, a rage and fury of frustration because there is no accountability and trust in the very same institutions that are supposed to protect us and work for us and not against us. We must demand greater transparency, put Principles over Politics, and restore the faith and trust that our government is working for us and not against us.”
“We need a straightforward problem solver who has gotten things done and delivered for the district. We need a leader that will challenge the status quo, healthcare, and big corporations that were not ready for the coronavirus so that it never happens again.”
“Having lived in Arizona for more than 34 years and in the district for over 20 years, I have made a difference in my community. I can do even more in Congress. There is too much focus in Washington on fighting, petty politics, and prioritizing corporations over families. We need to focus on results that improve what is actually happening in people’s lives.”
“My diverse set of experiences and record of accomplishment makes me the right candidate at the right time to win in this district. What we have seen in Washington is that the special interests have bought and paid for so many politicians. I have real experience bringing people of diverse backgrounds and working with different groups and organizations to address issues like creating new jobs and improving education outcomes right here in this district. “
- What are the three major domestic issues you will center your campaign on?
“I will work to restore the trust in our government and to ensure it works for us and not against us. I will fight for justice at every turn to ensure that this government-appointed to do the work of the people does not do a job on the people, which is what we have experienced under the Trump administration.”
“Uncertainty and unemployment are crushing our economy and working people’s sprits right now. The depth of government distrust, economic inequality, and health disparities exposed by the current crisis compels us to act immediately and decisively. Our government and its institutions are broken and we must make significant changes. More importantly, the American people must have faith that it will be there in our time of greatest need.”
“Over the past 35 years, I have gotten things done by bringing people together to help address our most pressing issues. I will focus on building a more sustainable economy and helping families create a better economic future for themselves. I will put principle over politics and follow this guiding principle: to do everything we can do help as many people as we can. I will fight to reverse Trump’s permanent tax cuts for corporations and billionaires and redirect that money to make the provisions of the tax cut that benefit families permanent instead of temporary.”
“I will invest in programs that increase the economic security of families, create more local small business jobs and helps small businesses start and grow, expand benefits to support the unemployed, and protect senior’s incomes and expand Medicare and Social Security benefits.” My economic agenda includes:
- Improving family financial stability and economics
- Protecting seniors and retirement incomes
- Strengthening wage and income growth for our economy’s frontline and essential workers
- Developing a more vibrant small business and entrepreneurial ecosystem
- Investing in economic infrastructures that drive job creation and economic revitalization
“I will fight to protect and expand the Affordable Care Act and fix the problems instead of throwing it out. This includes protecting and ensuring people with preexisting conditions have access to affordable care; driving down prescription drug prices; ending surprise billing by demanding greater transparency from hospitals and insurance companies; making insurance policies portable and not dependent on having a job. Adding a public option will increase the number of people covered under the ACA.
“The fundamental issue relating to health care is the availability and affordability of coverage, along with the concern that a catastrophic diagnosis, such as cancer, can lead to a decreased socioeconomic status or even bankruptcy.. We must provide access to coverage for as many people as possible to help drive down costs. We must provide a more sustainable solution for the uninsured who use emergency rooms as doctor’s offices. Doing so drives up costs for hospitals, which is then passed onto those with private/employer-based insurance. The long-term goal is to figure out how to provide health care for the millions of Americans who are still not covered while keeping the costs affordable for everyone else.”
“Education is a foundational pillar of a strong workforce, economic development, job-creating thriving economy. Our market competitiveness to attract emerging industries and companies depends upon having a highly skilled workforce. It is imperative we focus on workforce development and career readiness educational strategies so that our economy continues to grow and our markets continue to thrive. More importantly, we must encourage lifelong learning as these strategies will lead to earning a livable wage and not just a minimum wage.”
“To be the most competitive and attractive community for the economic opportunity we must have a strong public education system and complimenting options or choices that provide a diversity of avenues to attain the education that best fits the student needs.”
- What are the three major international issues you will center your campaign on?
“Healthy fair trade relationships create more opportunity for workers here at home. I will work to increase Arizona’s and our Nation’s collaboration and trade balance with our largest trading partners including Canada, Mexico, China, and the European Union.”
“I will work to restore essential manufacturing industries including medical and pharmaceutical to the U.S. We need federal medical equipment manufacturing initiative that provides forgivable loans to manufacturers to produce in-demand medical equipment such as PPE and employ unemployed or underemployed workers to produce these and other essential equipment.”
“Restoring our country’s reputation and position as a world leader that works collaboratively with our allies will be a top priority. We have severely damaged our nation’s reputation by pursuing an America First agenda at the expense of our standing in the global community. Finally, I will work to pass a comprehensive immigration reform to fix decades-old issues with our current system, address the issues in originating countries that force people to come to the US and bring more fairness to the process.”
“I believe in strengthening our border security, helping the DACA kids get a pathway to citizenship, a true comprehensive immigration reform package (informed from experience in McCain’s office,) and redirecting new funding for a border wall to programs that unite us and not dive us..”
- With regards to health care, do you believe in Medicare for All or expanding the Affordable Care Act or another alternative?
“Health care is a human right. Our focus must be on people and principles and not petty Washington DC politics. I support the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and will work to protect, expand, fix, and strengthen its provisions. We must provide access to coverage for as many people as possible to help drive down costs. If we could stroke the pen and do Medicare for All it would be great, but we have to find a fiscally responsible way to do this. Medicaid also needs to be expanded as well in a fiscally responsible manner.”
- In your opinion, should the federal minimum wage go up to $15.00 an hour or be adjusted depending on the region of the country you live in?
“I support a federal livable wage indexed against the local cost of living, inflation or a federal $15.00 minimum wage, whichever is greater. This is important as prior to the pandemic, we were creating plenty of jobs, but low wages often required workers to have more than one job to make ends meet.”
- What are three ideas you have for addressing climate change/sustainability/fighting pollution?
“Arizona is a unique position to be a global leader on solar energy. Addressing climate change and strengthening our economy are interconnected. “
“Wind and solar are now cheaper forms of energy than coal or gas. By incentivizing the adaptation of building with renewable energy sources, we can eliminate our biggest contributors to carbon in the atmosphere. Solar adaptation has been a boon for our economy. We need to keep focusing on solutions like this that are good for both our economy and the environment. Arizona is at the forefront of the opportunity to grow its solar and wind industry, to attract clean energy companies, and to lead the nation in innovation around fighting climate change. As a recognized technology hub, Arizona can help create the next generation of battery storage technology, clean power generation, that results in job-creating industries.”
“Our government must hold corporations that pollute our air, rivers, oceans, and water supply accountable. They must change their ways and pay for the damages they have created. This should be done with fines and penalties and required substantial and long-term community investment and development into the communities that they took advantage of.”
The complexity of water rights and preserving water requires a bi-partisan approach to ensure our water supply is adequate and available to everyone. We must approach the issue in the most collaborative working relationship with all stakeholders to find consensus and long-term solutions that meet everyone’s demands as much as possible.
- What is your view on the moves towards clean elections and election security reform contained in HR 1?
“I support it. I choose principles over politics every time.”
- What are three ideas you have on what needs to be done to combat the COVID 19 virus?
“We need to expand resources for testing, facilitating rapid vaccine development, increased production of PPE equipment, and strengthening the supply chain to deliver critical medical devices like ventilators. Testing and treatment for COVID-19 should be as inexpensive as possible, deductibles and co-insurance requirements waived, prioritize the recruitment and retention of essential workers with pay and other incentives.”
“We must provide access to affordable healthcare for everyone, regardless of employment status or location of residence, and ensure that insurance companies do not categorize COVID-19 patients as having a pre-existing condition. “
“We need to trust, listen to, and follow the lead of the scientists and health experts and not give in to the politics of the pandemic by ignoring real data at the expense of political expediency. We should reopen the country and economy as the virus dictates and not according to election timetables.”
- Are there any issues not mentioned in the earlier questions that you would like to discuss with the reader?
“The importance of trust in our government institutions is more important now more than ever. Countries around the world have done a better job at managing economic downturns in part because their people have faith in their institutions, their leadership, and each other. Without trust – that family economics are sustainable, retirement benefits deliver the outcomes we’ve worked hard for, salaries you can live on, that our water supplies are clean, that our medicines are safe, and that our hospitals have sufficient capacity to care for us when needed – our society is vulnerable and at-risk in many ways. We have to trust each other and we have to trust our government to be there when we need it.”
- Is there anything you would like the readers to know about you or your candidacy that the above questions did not fully convey?
“I will fight every day for my constituents, the state of Arizona, and for the prosperity of our Nation. I will work to ensure that the richest Wall Street corporations and billionaires, who made millions on Trump’s tax cut, should be last in line for federal aid as we restart the economy. I will fight to rebuild our Arizona economy, to restore and create new job opportunities, attract new capital investments in Arizona, and most importantly to protect the high quality of life we enjoy. We will fight and stand up to the status quo.”
Democrats have an embarrassment of riches to choose from on August 4, 2020. There are four talented candidates who would each have a positive impact on Congressional District Six and the future of the state.
Karl Gentles is one of them.
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