While it is right that Arizonans celebrated and hailed the forced resignation of Legislative District One State Representative David Stringer citizens need to remember that he is not the only reactionary legislator that does not serve the public good that needs to be defeated.
Some of his vile comments on education like “public schools should deal with ‘Mexicans’ and special ed students because they will never contribute to their communities or the economy” and those who peddle in child sex trafficking when one witness said his comment was “I don’t like to demonize it” have surfaced.
Below are examples of some locally elected individuals Democrats should focus on defeating at the ballot box in the next elections if scandals do not engulf them first. These are individuals that either:
- Author bills that target specific groups.
- Attack Democracy and the voting process.
- Rely on extremist groups to write legislation.
- Engage in self-dealing when sponsoring or supporting legislation
- Are under investigation or set bad examples.
Legislators that target specific groups like Teachers.
While LD 11 Vince Leach’s overreach into the affairs of Tempe and their rules on campaign finance donation revelations is reason enough to want him defeated in 2020, his resurrecting of the stalled House Bill 2017, authored by Kelly Townsend, prohibiting what teachers can say in the classroom.
A watered-down version of a harsher bill, this measure is vindictive, counterproductive, and hypocritical. It is vindictive because it is meant to target the many educators who participated in the Red for Ed strike in 2018. It is counterproductive because most teacher contracts in traditional and charter public schools have clauses that prohibit instructors from promoting their religious and political views to their students. It is hypocritical because these two reactionary legislators while looking for ways to muzzle public school teachers actively support Empowerment Scholarships (vouchers) for students who can take public money to private religious schools where the teachers and their colleagues can share their views to any extent they like.
Legislators who attack Democracy and the Voting Process.
During this legislative session, there have been several bills offered by the Reactionary Republicans (in contrast to the Democrats who offered a Voters Bill of Rights) to obstruct a persons ability to exercise their right to vote. These include more obstacles to the initiative process, ending emergency voting centers, kicking people off early voting lists, or making people stand in line if they have a mail-in ballot. These moves show an aversion to the Democratic process no public servant should hold. If a person holding or running for office is afraid of voters voting, they are in the wrong profession and voters should express that.
Legislators who are too lazy to write their own legislation.
As recent articles by Rob O’Dell and Nick Penzenstadler from USA Today/AZ Central and David Boyles from Blog for Arizona have revealed, there are legislators that rely on outside groups like the reactionary ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) and the Goldwater Institute to influence and in some cases write legislation that is considered on the House or Senate Floors.
This was seen in the recent debate over charter school reform when reports noted that the Arizona Charter School Association had a hand in helping craft the bill that eventually stalled. This reliance on outside groups is an affliction both political parties have suffered from but again, in Arizona, it seems the Republicans make greater utilization of these resources. While outside groups have a place in the process by offering expert perspective and consultation, they have no place in the writing and editing of legislation. Legislators that have to rely on organizations to write their legislation have no place running for office. It is like Hillary Clinton once called “change by Xerox.”
Legislators who put their Personal Interests above the Public Interest
There are many Republicans in the Arizona State Legislature who apparently believe being a legislator is about serving themselves rather than the citizens they represent. While there are too many examples for this article, it is common knowledge that individuals like State Senators Eddie Farnsworth and Steve Yarbrough sponsored and supported charter school legislation that financially benefited them. It should be a state law that individuals cannot enrich themselves by writing, influencing, or voting for legislation that will financially benefit them or close family and friends. Voters should demand that legislators openly declare they will not pursue these personal enrichment goals while campaigning for office.
Legislators that are under Investigation or Set a Poor Example.
David Stringer (and Don Shooter from 2018) are not the only examples of legislators who set poor examples and were forced to resign because investigations confirmed their bad behavior. There are two examples of Congressional Representatives who are under ethics clouds for either potential bad acts or vile behavior.
The first person under scrutiny is Congressman David Schweikert (R-AZ 6th District). He is still under investigation (and it expanded last December) for potential campaign finance violations he and his former chief of staff may have committed. If accurate, Mr. Schweikert should consider resigning or censure for his transgressions.
The other representative who has not set a good example is Congressman Paul Gosar (R–AZ 4th District) who had a temper tantrum on Twitter by attacking Steve Weichert (the LD 17 candidate who nearly vanquished the then sitting Speaker of the House JD Mesnard last November) by calling him “a whiny b…h.” If Mr. Gosar’s siblings, who opposed his reelection last November do not give his constituents pause, hopefully, this juvenile behavior will.
Public Service is simply about serving the public and moving the community forward for everyone’s benefit. It is not about targeting groups that do not support your views. It is not about replacing Democracy with Oligarchy. It is not about someone else doing your homework for you by writing the bills you probably do not read. It is not about sponsoring legislation that also provides an early retirement plan for you and your family. It is not about being able to violate laws or behave poorly, thereby setting a bad example for others to see.
If voters see candidates running for office again in 2020, they should be mindful and not show support to these individuals by voting for them again.