The Retirement of Senate Democratic Leader David Bradley has created a chain reaction for Democrats in the Tucson centered Arizona Legislative District (LD) Ten.
Democratic State House Incumbent Kirsten Engel has announced her candidacy to succeed Bradley in the State Senate.
That leaves the other Democratic Incumbent Domingo DeGrazia, Stephanie Stahl Hamilton, and Paul Stapleton-Smith as the three candidates vying to compete against Republican single shot competitor Mabelle Gummere for the two LD Ten State House seats in November 2020.
Stapleton-Smith has a strong background in labor relations and public service activism. He would bring that perspective and experience to the State Capitol as a strong progressive candidate.
Mr. Stapleton-Smith graciously took the time to respond to questions regarding his qualifications for the State House and positions on the issues.
The questions and his responses are below.
- Please tell the reader about yourself (education and experiences).
“I’m a labor leader, a community organizer, and a proud husband, father, and grandfather. I was born and raised in my district. I’ve served on the Board for our LD10 Democratic Party, helped with many LD10 fundraisers over the years, and served as a Committeeman to the State Party.”
- Please tell the reader what are at least three qualifications you have for the Legislative seat you are seeking.
“As the Chair of the Pima Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, a member of the Arizona AFL-CIO Executive Council, and an appointed member of the Pima County Workforce Investment Board, I’ve poured my heart and efforts into working and fighting on behalf of working people. As a Board member and Policy Committee member of the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona, as well as an appointed member of the Arizona Department of Education’s CTE Quality Skills Commission, I’ve advocated for children, families, and quality public education. As a community organizer, coordinating and working with too many community groups to count, I’ve always approached that work with one over-arching principle, “Bargaining for the Common Good”. LD10 is my home. I can’t wait to bring these principles to the capitol to represent my community.”
- What are at least two reasons you would be a better public servant than your likely Republican opponent?
“For far too long our legislature has neglected all public services to the Arizona taxpayer. Chief among them public education, and the states’ Housing Trust fund. We simply cannot afford to continue supporting legislators who so willingly pass tax credits for the rich that drain our general fund, and vouchers that send our public education dollars to for-profit, private and charter schools.”
- If elected, please describe the top two education issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“As an AFL-CIO Red for Ed organizer, fully funding our public schools is an extraordinarily urgent responsibility for our legislature. I also believe in the expansion of career and technical education programs that provide urgent opportunities for our young people, and our workforce.”
“I absolutely and fully support the new InvestInED initiative. I personally collected signatures for the 2018 efforts and will commit to collecting those signatures again throughout my candidacy. As a longtime RedForEd organizer and union leader I’ve closely followed David Lujan and the Arizona Center for Economic Progress, as well as the Children’s Action Alliance throughout their efforts to develop this new and improved version of InvestInED. Together we’ve held multiple town halls around the need to fund public education in our state.”
- If elected, please describe the top two healthcare issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“The protection and expansion of our State Medicaid system for our most vulnerable citizens are of the highest priority. Medical care cannot be the subject of economic or financial segregation.”
“I will also push for the expansion of services for maternal health. An ounce of prevention, with timely prenatal and postpartum care, will help more families and save more money than our current neglectful condition.”
“The accessibility and availability of mental healthcare must be seen as equally important and urgent to Arizonans as medical care. We must fight to protect and expand this access as a part of our efforts to expand and improve our state Medicaid system. Too many Arizonans in need, especially those in need of mental health services, fall through the cracks and do not receive the care they need. This is an injustice, and they deserve better. Private health insurance (as is so often the case) is wholly unreliable and under-motivated to solve our most urgent needs.”
- If elected, please describe the top two sustainability issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“The protection of our groundwater and our ephemeral streams is extremely important to Arizona’s future, and our policies cannot be left to real estate speculators and large, reckless foreign corporate agriculture companies.”
“We must lead the nation in the development and deployment of solar technology and power systems. Government infrastructure and investments can help create the economic foundation for this industry, as can the requirement that retrofitting and new construction reflect the best practices in climate mitigation strategies.
- If elected, please describe the top two helping children issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“Providing pre-K early education access and opportunities for every child in Arizona. Nurses and psychologists are needed in every public school.”
“Now more than ever, families must depend upon each other for services and support that our state government will not or cannot provide. For example, grandparents caring for their orphaned grandchildren receive a tiny fraction of the support that foster parents get from the State. This is unfair. This is unjust. It is also inadvertent sabotage of otherwise superior childcare and support.”
- If elected, please describe the top two helping the most vulnerable issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“Brutally high rents and mortgages are the common barrier to affordable, stable and secure housing for our most vulnerable citizens: our poor, our students and our working families, our seniors and our veterans all too often face evictions, foreclosures, and the threat of homelessness from common, negative events. Loss of a job, a medical emergency, an accident—even simple and modest inflation forces fixed-income residents to struggle to keep a roof over their heads. These unfair, immoral outcomes are bad for our families, our economy, and are entirely unnecessary. Fully funding our Housing Trust Fund would begin to help solve some of these sometimes tragic and wholly preventable outcomes.”
“Maternal and childhood health care are two of the most urgent challenges facing our Arizona families. Limited access to high-quality care, combined with unaffordable prescription drugs force too many of our families into dire conditions that we know are otherwise preventable.”
- If elected, please describe the top two law enforcement issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“Our cash bail system has created one system of justice for the rich, and another for the poor. We know how to do better, and we must accept that imprisoning people that cannot buy their freedom is inherently unjust.”
“So too, has the broken and unfair practices of overcharging and plea bargaining, which is treacherously combined with brutally unfair mandatory minimums that prevent judges from actually administering fairly considered and reasoned justice in all cases.”
- If elected, please describe the top two immigration issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“Providing legal assistance to immigrants with the same sense of fairness of representation that we presume to provide to all defendants, in the event that they cannot afford representation is the minimum that Arizona should be doing.”
“Overturning the racist and cruel SB1070 is another goal that we must actively work to achieve.”
“I trust the Pentagon to defend our border. They are charged with and best qualified to determine what provides a secure defense. Their defense plan does not include the incredible waste of money and resources that Trump’s fantasy border wall entails. Nor does it require environmental and cultural devastation of our borderlands. Lastly, the state of Arizona is not charged with enforcing border security—this is a matter of federal policy.”
- If elected, please describe the top issues facing women, minorities, and the LGBTQ communities that you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“Fair wages and the prohibition of all discrimination in the workplace must be guaranteed to every working person.”
“Prohibition of discrimination in schools and places of business must be guaranteed. Too often our young people and our neighbors are unfairly subjected to hostile environments and denied their rights to activities and services. Fairness and equality of opportunity are our moral and legal obligation.”
- If elected, please describe the top two government reform issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“An immediate review of every tax giveaway and assignment of economic scorecards, with sunsets for each one.”
“Repeal of SB1487 is a reform that will prevent legislative bullies and ideologues from terrorizing our chartered cities and communities seeking to represent their unique, local interests.”
“I do not believe that corporations should be allowed to contribute to political campaigns at all. They have sought to buy our government as if it was a commodity. I fully support the efforts of the Outlaw Dirty Money campaign to provide protections and transparency for our voters. I will fight to continue to advance and guarantee the rights of voters to know who is putting money into political campaigns.”
- Are there any issues not mentioned in the previous questions that you feel should be addressed by the Legislature?
“Repealing ‘right to work’ (for less) from the Arizona Constitution is imperative.”
“Protecting and advancing the rights of workers to organize is one of the most important ways to strengthen our economy and our democracy.”
- Is there anything you would like to let the reader know about yourself that has not been addressed by the previous questions.
“As a husband, a grandfather, and a father born and raised in my district, I believe that community values are what makes our democracy and our economy stronger. Our strength in the community is how we succeed.”
“As a union leader, I know that our responsibilities to, and for each other is what makes us strong—solidarity is the essence of E Pluribus Unum. Workers’ rights are women’s rights, immigrants’ rights, veterans’ rights, LGBTQ rights. Workers’ rights are human rights, and those rights must guide every law and practice that we create.”
The State Legislature can use more public servants that put people instead of corporate and reactionary interests first.
If elected, Mr. Stapleton-Smith would likely continue the Progressive Democratic support on the issues Ms. Engel did while she served in the State House.
He is a candidate voters should consider when choosing a candidate this August and November if he prevails in the Primary.