Donald Trump’s candidacy and Electoral College election was a political awakening to many people in Arizona and across the nation.

Democratic Legislative District (LD) 23 Chair Patti O’Neil is one of them.

A meeting and event planner, Ms. O’Neil had been a volunteer and canvasser for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election.

After the election which she hailed for the wins of County Recorder Adrian Fontes and Sheriff Paul Penzone (although during the interview she commented that while Joe Arpaio was defeated in Maricopa County, the country was cursed with his equivalent in the person of Donald Trump,) she volunteered for Indivisible (the grassroots group that recruits progressive leaders) and the Kathy Hoffman campaign for Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Following the advice of now Democratic Vice Chair Garrick McFadden, Ms. O’Neil became a PC in LD 23 in 2017. She was selected as the LD Chair, after being the Vice-Chair, in June 2019.

Arizona Legislative District 23 is showing signs of becoming purple. The area that includes all or parts of Scottsdale, Fountain Hills, Paradise Valley, and Rio Verde, showed signs of blueness with 2018 when educator Eric Kurland came within striking distance of defeating reactionary Jay Lawrence for one of the statehouse seats.

With Kurland running again in 2020 and newcomer Seth Blattman set to challenge now ethically embattled Michelle Ugenti-Rita, Ms. O’Neil sat down in the basement of the State House (while waiting for Kathy Hoffman’s State of Education speech) and answered questions on how the Democrats in LD 23 are preparing for the 2020 elections.

The questions and her responses are below.

  • In terms of moving forward, what are two things you are doing the same from 2018 in preparing for the 2020 election cycle?

 “ We are building our volunteer (close to 3000 over time and 175 PC’s (increase 30 percent) membership and bank account (increased 200 percent). Have opened an office (the first in-state) with the assistance of the MCDP”

  • In terms of moving forward, what are two things you are doing differently from 2018 in preparing for the 2020 election cycle?

“ Identifying our critical need areas (precincts that have not been touched and reached out to) and using more data-driven information to inform our decisions and reach out to voters who normally do not turn out.”

  • Please assess the candidates that have declared and are actively campaigning:

“We have a strong candidate in Eric Kurland who is running for House Representative. We are very lucky to have businessman Seth Blattman running for State Senate. What a great combination of an educator and businessmen to represent our district.”

  • Please explain at least two ways how these candidates would take the LD in a different direction from their likely Republican opponents.

“First I can assure you that there wouldn’t be any voter suppression bills. Secondly, there won’t be any bills to arm teachers. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.”

  • Please explain the three main issues the Party in your district will emphasize when running in 2020.

“We will be focusing on the issues that every Arizonans truly value: education, healthcare, and the economy.”

Please explain the current progress in:

  • Method for recruiting P.C.’s:

“We use our event sign-in sheets as a way to build our supporter base and connect event participants to the different activities and ways that they can get involved.”

  • Community Activism in the LD.:

“The members of our LD are passionate about the success of our community. Our LD members are great about showing up at larger progressive events including canvasses and demonstrations.”

  • Fundraising:

“For our recurring donations, we encourage people to invest in the LD by giving $23 for LD23. Our LD also hosts fundraising events throughout the year, which are well attended. Finally, we sell LD23 swag like T-shirts (LD 23 & Me democracy is in our DNA,) water bottles and silly items like whistles for whistleblowers, and Sharpe’s for Sharpegater.

  • Voter Registration:

“We partner with other groups (Indivisible, Field Team Six) that are doing voter registration and support their work. Why reinvent the wheel when we can shift volunteers to that direction.”

The members of LD 23 meet the third Wednesday of every month.

They are conducting PC training (best practices and what is effective), on how to speak to Republicans from the view of a former Republican, how to cope with stress and self-care in the era of Trump, and request to speak training (civic engagement beyond voting-reach out to)

Voters and Pundits should pay close election to LD 23 as one of the barometers of the 2020 elections. If Kurland and Blattman win or are in an extremely close race with their Republican opponents, it may also be likely that:

  • Donald Trump has lost the Presidency.
  • David Schweikert has lost Congressional District Six.
  • The Democrats have gained majorities in both legislative chambers at the Arizona Capitol.

For more information on Arizona Legislative District 23, please click on their website here and their Facebook Page here.