Jennifer Longdon symbolizes what a person can do when he or she overcomes great adversity. A native of Chicago (she favors Deep Dish Pizza to New York Style), Ms. Longdon has lived in Arizona since 1999. A successful businesswoman and mother, she was the victim of a random shooting in 2004 that permanently paralyzed her from the waist down. The shooting financially ruined her with her health insurance dropping her coverage while she was in a medically induced coma. After recovering, Ms. Longdon dedicated her life to championing for the most neglected, “disenfranchised,” and persecuted minority group in the country, the disabled. In the course of becoming a public advocate for the disabled, Ms. Longdon became a champion for other social justice and progressive causes, including education, LGBTQ rights, reducing gun violence, and health care. Believing that she is the best candidate because of her life experience on health care and gun violence and her activism in those areas, she believes “legislating is an extension of the work I have been doing for a long time.”
LD 24 encompasses all or part of Phoenix and Scottsdale. A reliably Democratic District, Republicans have not seen a victory here in several election cycles. There are seven Democrats, including an incumbent (Ken Clark) vying for the two state house seats in the primary election. Based on recent history, the results of the primary will undoubtedly determine which two candidates are seated in the legislature in January.
Ms. Longdon’s approach to Governing.
Ms. Longdon believes the best approach to public policy is centering it on compassion towards people. She feels that “when we base our policies on people, we are better off.” Knowing that all politics is “local” with decisions ranging from what textbooks are given to students at school to what types of bags should be used at grocery stores, she would approach solutions to public policy issues by “bringing all stakeholders to the table and building coalitions.” Having a sense of “now,” she disparages legislators who only worry about the next election and “kick the big and important things down the road.”
If Ms. Longdon does not advance past the primary in August, she will still pursue her public policy advocacy on the issues she champions.
Ms. Longdon on the Issues
Believing that “we have the money but we are spending it in the wrong places,” she believes that we need to fully fund our K-12 and post-secondary school systems. Teachers and staff should be given a living wage so they can focus on students. Instead of giving corporations tax breaks, schools deserve the latest technology, books, and modern safe buildings. She is for Invest in Ed and is in favor of measures such as corporate tax reform and taxing legalized marijuana to make up the difference. She also contends that greater gun violence prevention will enable schools to shift funds from gun safety measures to other areas. Vouchers should not be expanded with taxpayer dollars and only students with special needs should be eligible to receive them. Universities, according to the Constitution, and Community Colleges should be free with infusions of state funding so instate students, including Dreamers, would not be saddled with levels of student debt that will hinder their lives. Koch Centered Learning Centers at the University of Arizona and Arizona State University should not get public funds.
The Economy and Good Paying Jobs
She believes “the current tax structure stands in our way.” “It is our infrastructure that creates the Arizona community we want to live in which include good schools, clean water, and good and safe roads and bridges with reliable air conditioning and responsible public safety. When those things are not in place, those people/businesses do not want to be here. Our economy relies on good paying jobs and it is all linked.
With regards to good paying jobs, “we need a living wage. Any person who works a 40 hour work week should be able to support themselves and any two income family should be able to support a household.” She “fears that our children are going to work harder and not get as far. This is the result of the corporate influence and dark money.”
“Should be using renewable energy and not use fossil fuels. We should harness the natural resources we have. There are some concerns like wind farms and condors and doing away with straws that could affect disabled (watch out for unintended consequences).” Overall, she supports the Clean Energy Initiative as long as we are thoughtful on how we apply as long as we are not creating new problems.
Roads and Bridges:
She worked On Prop 104 and it “should not be funded on a 60-year maintenance” schedule. We “need investments on Roads and bridges so people and commerce can safely move.
Rail and Public Transportation:
She worked on getting light rail for Phoenix. She relayed that “we need a central core where people can work without a car. We need responsible public transportation development. It is the great equalizer because it creates an opportunity for everyone like public education.” She favors expansion and is receptive to a Tucson to Vegas Rail Line but wants to study the impact first for the community and environmental concerns.
“We need it. Technology is also a great equalizer especially in the rural areas where you can log in instead of driving several hundred miles.”
Water Supply and Conservation
We should be “helping residents collect rainwater and greywater to water fields. We should have worked more on water in this legislative system. We need to work on the Colorado River supply with the other states and participate in the process with the other affected states.”
Due to her paralysis 14 years ago and the financial ruin that resulted when the insurance company she had cut her off medical care while in a medically induced coma for a pre-existing condition she was not aware she had, Ms. Longdon is a firm believer in universal and affordable quality health care. She worked with Organizing for America on securing the Affordable Care Act. She believes in single-payer health care, saying “we are in danger of losing that preexisting conditions and health care is a human right and we have to protect it.” She worries that in the next session, Medicaid will be a block grant if the Democrats do not improve their standing. She is in favor of Arizona residents buying into state Medicaid because it works and makes it easier for people to live and be healthy, saying individuals “are one accident from having a financial meltdown.”
Reducing Poverty and the Homeless rates
She believes that poverty and homelessness “ affect people of disability more than most.” She supports the Housing First program so we could move people into houses so they can figure out their lives and reconnect in ways that are safer and healthier. She is intrigued with the possibilities of universal basic income but wants to know about. She also agrees that funding child care, public transportation, public education, and minimum wage “is intersectional” and helps reduce poverty and homelessness rates.
Dark Money and the War on Democracy
Stating “anything that stands in the way of the voter and ballot box is wrong,” she feels Citizens United was one of the worst recent Supreme Court decisions “for our democracy,” stating that Dark Money interests “should say what they want but own it.” She is in favor of clean elections where Dark Money interests do not drown good candidates out of the process. Furthermore, she feels the Republican legislators attempts to make the ballot initiative process more cumbersome and suppress early voting is a strike against the people.
Criminal Justice Reform:
She feels that private prisons are bad and should be done away with stating that “human misery should not be a profit center.” Furthermore, “we are not figuring out how to reduce crime. We are trying to fill the beds in the private prisons. human-centered legislation is necessary to prevent crime and we start with this premise: what would possess a person to do a crime?” She is moved towards restorative justice, which is taking a look at why, and the consequences of a criminal act and do the best we can to correct the situation depending on the situation. For example, “if you stole money to feed your family or for drugs or get an x box, let us look at it before possibly sending you to prison.” Finally, she believes “families have been gutted by the war on drugs” and this needs to be addressed.
Gun and School Safety
She finds that most school-related deaths “ tend to be suicide in most cases rather than mass shootings.” She feels “we need to ensure good mental health services for people going through a hard time and more counselors (250 to 1 instead of 900 to 1).” We need to prohibit the sale of bump stocks, raise the minimum age to purchase guns at 21 and have universal background checks. There should also be extreme orders of protection against domestic abusers and other dangerous individuals. We should also provide opportunities to educate gun owners about storage and how to stop kids from getting them. Finally, gun owners should be told that they have a responsibility for maintaining and storing their firearms.
Border Security and Illegal Immigration
No one should pay for Trumps Wall. Furthermore, “calling the National Guard “ to patrol “is ridiculous,” maintaining, “We need to deal with gun and human trafficking instead of the border patrol.” Legalizing marijuana, working on immigration reform, and gun violence reform will address these issues better than a wall.
On other immigration matters, she believes that:
- The parents of Dreamers should be allowed to stay if they are not breaking the law.
- Drones could be used to secure the border but the other methods described above would complete the job along with a “human-centered perspective.”
- Separating families is “inhumane and a human rights atrocity.”
Equal Rights Amendment
She supports it.
Yes, and she is proud of her efforts helping to work on the City of Phoenix Non-Discrimination Ordinance.
A Woman’s Right to Choose
She is “100 % on women’s reproductive rights.”
Ms. Longdon wants to earn every vote she receives and she promises to work hard for all of them as an effective state legislator. She is very impressed with the increased voter engagement, enthusiasm, and participation that has occurred since 2016. Her volunteers are utilizing the traditional campaigning methods of knocking on doors, phone banking, and house parties. She is also making great use of social media including making video broadcasts on Facebook. Please visit the below website links for more information on Ms. Longdon including those groups that have endorsed her.
Ms. Longdon is a very strong person and would be a strong proponent for social justice should she elected to the State Legislature this November. Voters should consider her before voting this August, and perhaps, this November.