Vince Leach likes to get involved in the affairs of Arizonans and local leaders that do not reside in his district.
For an alleged conservative that believes in small unintrusive government, that is a pretty big intrusive government approach to the casual political observer.
Over the last couple of years, Mr. Leach, as a State Representative and Senator from Legislative District (LD) 11 has poked his head, thanks to the provisions of SB 1487 in the affairs cities and towns not in his district. In Bisbee, he was one of several legislators in 2018 who complained about their plastic bag ban. In 2019, he raised objections to Tempe’s Campaign Disclosure Ordinance on Dark Money donations.
Last week, Mr. Leach went into a tirade on Mayor Coral Evans of Flagstaff after she took the lead in closing beauty salons in her city. The proclamation, according to Mr. Leach, goes against Governor Ducey’s Executive Order from last week declaring that profession one of the essential services that can remain open during the public health Coronavirus Emergency.
How is a beauty salon business an essential service?
Coral Evans does not think so.
Tucson Mayor Regina Romero has doubts as well, stating in a March 27 press release that:
“The order strongly advises that hair and nail salons, spas, barbershops, and other “personal hygiene services,” as defined by the Governor’s Executive Order, also close for the same time frame. Although the Governor’s Executive Order defines these businesses as “essential,” Mayor Romero is recommending that they close because they involve human interactions that conflict with CDC guidance on social distancing.”
Annie DeGraw, the Communications Director for Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego wrote:
“The Governor’s list of essential businesses is so all-encompassing that very few businesses are considered non-essential. Our office has asked the governor multiple times to make a far more tailored list of actual core crisis functions better reflecting societal needs during a pandemic. We do not believe salons/barber shops, golf courses, pawnshops, or many other businesses would make it onto that list. We continue to encourage all who are able to stay home and stop the spread of this deadly virus.”
The Democrats who have run against Mr. Leach in 2018 and 2020 have offered their views on the situation.
2018 Democratic LD 11 State Senate Democratic Nominee Ralph Atchue commented, in the form of a letter to Senator Leach stating:
“State Senator Leach”
“I am writing to express my absolute disgust regarding your lack of respect for local authority and the safety and health of all who live in Arizona. While you have, over the years, proven yourself to be the enemy of local democracy, how dare you put my family and the families of everyone at risk?”
“With a slow and uncoordinated federal response coupled with a confusing at best message from Governor Ducey, Arizona’s mayors are making life-saving decisions based on science and real data. CV-19 cases and deaths are escalating across the country and AZ at an alarming rate. Medical staff and equipment are quickly dwindling. It is now apparent that you care more about some political points than saving lives. You’d rather protect your political power than erring on the side of protecting lives. Shame on you!”
“As you’re fully aware, I have found your political positions to be diametrically opposed to mine and I’ve not been shy about voicing my opinions. Your abhorrent behavior in the current CV-19 raises my disagreement to a new level. I will not stop alerting everyone and in every manner available to me that I consider you to be a clear and present danger to Arizona.”
“I do not expect any civilized or rational response but, if you chose to answer, be aware that I will share your words in public!”
Gunnery Sergeant JoAnna Mendoza, one of the two Democrats vying for the Senate nomination in 2020 offered her views as well. She wrote:
“Leadership is about doing what’s right – even when isn’t popular. Good leaders take action to protect those they serve. My 20-year career in the military taught me those lessons about what it means to be a leader. Whether I was forward deployed, in a combat environment, or training other Marines, the goal is to accomplish the mission and keep your team safe. It’s a privilege to lead and no leader ever wants to lose someone on their watch.”
“The incumbent Republican State Senator in LD11, Vince Leach, recently threatened to file a complaint against Mayor Coral Evans and take away state-shared revenue from the City of Flagstaff. Local elected leadership is the level of government that is closest to the people and best understand their needs. Mayor Evans acted in the best interests of her constituents, taking action to help keep them healthy and safe. Mr. Leach has repeatedly sponsored legislation that seeks to suppress the voice of the people and limit the power of local municipalities. During this time of crisis in our state and in our county, he’s choosing to pick a fight with the Mayor of a city that isn’t even in his district. These actions call into question his priorities and his ability to lead during a crisis.”
“As an elected official, my first step would have been issuing a call to action for local municipalities to come together with a list of questions, concerns, and needs in regard to COVID-19. State legislators should be communicating with the Mayors of cities within their districts to identify top priorities and bringing those issues to the Governor’s office, discussing what folks are seeing on the ground every day. Finding a solution doesn’t always require legislation – it requires leadership.”
“The budget that was passed, including with a $50 million aid package to assist those harmed by the COVID-19 crisis, will be crucial for Arizonans. While I would have liked to have seen more funding, the support for housing assistance, aid for businesses, nonprofits and health care providers with fewer than 50 employees, and assistance for food banks and organizations serving people experiencing homelessness are essential for helping us survive this pandemic. My bigger concern is whether those relief funds will actually be used appropriately and directed towards the people in need. But relief funds are only part of dealing with this pandemic. We need to put measures in place that will save lives. Public health experts, medical professionals, and policymakers throughout the nation support social distancing as a means to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. But recommendations aren’t going to cut it. We need more aggressive measures, such as a stay-at-home mandate and closure of all non-essential businesses. People are dying. We must do everything in our power to reduce the spread of COVID-19, protect our communities, and minimize the damage caused by this pandemic.”
“I would also advise Governor Ducey to use the National Guard to their full capacity. These are civilian soldiers who stand ready to serve their communities. They are skilled professionals with training and the experience to operate in challenging conditions. Our National Guard units are an incredible resource and could:
- Assist Health departments with screening calls about signs, symptoms, and what to do if someone thinks they’ve been exposed
- Administer COVID-19 screenings and set up additional drive through testing sites
- Establish field hospitals with pharmaceutical and medical equipment outside hospitals nearing capacity
- Deliver PPE and medical supplies to hospitals”
“In a combat environment, hesitation can cost lives. The stakes are just as high today. During this pandemic, we’ve seen the true colors of our elected officials. Some have emerged as leaders and champions for their constituents, while others hesitate to step up and do what is needed to protect the health and safety of Arizonans. There are no easy solutions, and this is a situation that we’ve never faced before. But we expect our elected officials to make tough decisions and justify them to us as their constituents. The worst thing our elected officials can do right now is hesitate. Failure to act puts us one step closer to the point of no return. At the end of the day, it’s about leadership and doing what’s necessary to protect the people you serve. Mr. Leach’s actions in the midst of this crisis demonstrate a lack of leadership and are a disservice to the people of Arizona. We need a State Senator who will lead in the face of adversity and make the tough decisions necessary to protect the people of our district.”
Educator Linda Patterson, the other Democrat competing for the LD 11 State Senate nomination commented:
“We are in an unprecedented time that challenges our souls. We are in the midst of a crisis that our state, nation, and the world have never experienced. Hundreds of millions of people are suffering and dying by a force that is beyond comprehension. Times of heartbreak like these require that our leaders lead – so people can cope with the enormity of it all and have faith that better days will come.”
“In times like these, I pause with respect and reverence because I know that moments like these tend to bind us together as human beings. I know that the vast majority of us are guided by our collective beliefs and respond with our better angels – with compassion, supportive actions, and solutions that will contribute to the common good. We depend on strong leaders that move us forward during and after the storm has passed.”
“It is within that mindset that I must communicate my total dismay at Senator Vince Leach and his actions when responding to an Arizona Mayors bold leadership as she made choices for her community in need of guidance and boundaries amid this crisis. The fact that he took the present situation as an opportunity to grandstand in order to score political points is beyond the pale and, even heartbreaking. As he did so, many Arizonans were facing loss and suffering from COVID-19 and needed our hearts to be with them.”
“I believe that Vince Leach has demonstrated callous disregard to the responsibility and dignity required as a state legislator. His actions demonstrate a lack of judgment and character that is required by his office as a State Senator.”
“As a candidate for the same State Senate seat, I promise you that I will do better! I know there are times that call for us to stand together with decency instead of political theatre. I look forward to taking this new approach of leadership for the constituents of LD11 in the next state legislature. Character Matters.”
Hopefully, with Governor Ducey’s declaration of the Stay at Home proclamation this afternoon, he will revisit and narrow what essential businesses/services can remain in operation.
There is no plausible reason for golf courses, pawnshops, and beauty salons to remain open at this time.
Needless exposure to this virus should be prevented. Lives will be saved and less suffering will be the result.
Hopefully, Mr. Leach will see the light as well and pull back from his ill-advised positions.
If not, the people of LD 11 will see that he put commerce and petty disputes over their personal safety.
They will always put the safety and welfare of their constituents first.