Arizona Legislative District (LD) Eight is an area that stretches from the edge of the East Valley in Maricopa County to the Catalina Foothills just north of Tucson. It includes all or parts of Globe, Miami, Casa Grande, Florence, Coolidge, Kearny, San Manuel, Eloy, and San Tan Valley
Democrats served in Arizona LD Eight as recently as 2016 when Barbara McGuire held the State Senate Seat for four years.
After losing a fairly competitive State Senate race in 2018, Sharon Girard is running to make one of LD Eight’s State House seats blue.
That task became easier over the last several weeks after revelations that incumbent State Representative David Cook has been engaging in an extramarital relationship with a lobbyist with economic interests in the district and conflict of interest allegations.
A member of the medical profession, Ms. Girard believes in helping others based on facts, not reactionary and (in Cooks case) hypocritical values.
She would bring a pragmatic progressive approach to the State Legislature.
Ms. Girard graciously responded to a series of questions about her qualifications and positions on the issues.
The questions and her responses are below.
- Please tell the reader about yourself (education and experiences).
“I grew up on the New Jersey shore in a rural community where apple groves, horse farms and corn were all around. We were close enough to New York City to enjoy shopping and culture but far enough away to live a simple life. We lived 2 miles from the ocean. I loved living in a sleepy summer resort town. I put myself through college after moving to California at age 19. I wanted to be a nurse-midwife until I learned of the PA profession (Physician Assistant). I was finishing nursing school when I was accepted into the University of Southern California (USC) PA program on the first try(35 accepted, over 250 applicants). I was the mother of a 15-month-old, so I juggled school and parenting. After PA school I focused on women’s healthcare. I attended the only postgraduate residency for PAs in the country in OB/Gyn, moving to the Bronx with a 10-year-old daughter. My husband didn’t join me so I again juggled parenting while working an average 100 hours a week. After returning to California I found I could have a better job using my specialized skills in the Midwest so I moved to a small town in Illinois. Again, it was rural, medically underserved and supported by an agricultural economy. I practiced in OB/Gyn, Occupational (workers health) medicine, and Urgent Care. I was one of the very first PAs hired in a local hospital’s Emergency Room, blazing a trail. I loved the fast pace of ER but always worked part-time in women’s health. I started lecturing at medical and nursing conferences, publishing articles in journals and was eventually appointed to a leadership position with the American Academy of Physician Assistants on their Clinical and Scientific Affairs council. I was very involved with the community, founding Women’s Health Conferences in California and Illinois, and joining many community boards and graduating from a Leadership program in my town. I was founding board VP of the national organization, the Association of PAs in OB/GYN. In 2008 I remarried and moved to England, practicing as a PA there. The UK had a pilot project, bringing US PAs to introduce the profession. I wrote a book about my experience, “A PA in the UK’, available on Amazon. Most recently I served on the Arizona Planned Parenthood 501(c4) board. I worked in Planned Parenthood clinics as a clinician in California and Illinois for most of my career. I also worked with the Association of Reproductive Healthcare Professionals and served as President of the California Central Coast NP/PA Association.”
- Please tell the reader what are at least three qualifications you have for the Legislative seat you are seeking.
“As a medical professional, I believe in facts and science. I am data-driven and think pragmatically. Using facts, data, science and common sense to solve problems and affect change is the right combination of qualifications to be a legislator. I also have the experience that mirrors many of my constituents. And I love people. I love to listen and learn. I honed my listening skills practicing medicine. I was a single mother, I put myself through college without parental help, I had a chronic illness that almost cost me my life (Hepatitis C, now cured) and I struggled as an uninsurable person to obtain the healthcare I needed. I know their pain, their issues, and their struggles. I also know healthcare very well and can uniquely comprehend and navigate this complex system.”
- What are at least two reasons you would be a better public servant than your likely Republican opponent?
“I am strong and a good communicator. I may look tiny, but I’m mighty. I am not judgmental or unusually biased. I am open to listening, learn and then act with deliberate reason. I will be there for the individual, the mother, child, and the disabled. I will fight for a good education and the funding you need. I will fight for your healthcare and combat an industry that cares more about profits than your health. I do not own a business, I do not have another agenda, I am not a career politician. I had a great career. I am here for you and I will fight for your success.”
- If elected, please describe the top two education issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“I will work for charter school reform and demand accountability and transparency for our public charter schools. I will also work to fully fund public education and find a dedicated revenue stream of funding that will support public education for the long term. I believe Invest in Ed is a good idea and we are in need in Arizona for a dedicated revenue stream for education funding. But we need to do more. We need to audit and look at tax breaks and tax cuts. We need more legislators who will put education funding as a top priority.”
- If elected, please describe the top two healthcare issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“We must address our healthcare provider shortage, a major issue in our rural communities. We must work to expand, educate and keep Doctors, Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, and Nurse-Midwives in our rural communities.”
“I would also work to expand our state Medicaid program, ACHCCS, to allow a buy-in for those who cannot qualify or afford the ACA. I will work to outlaw junk insurance policies that only harm people. I would fight for lowering drug prices in our state (like Utah did) to allow Arizona to buy from Canada and Mexico. I would also place an out of the pocket cap on insulin costs. No one should ration or go without. People in Arizona have died because they cannot afford their insulin.”
“Mental health is healthcare and we have serious needs in our state. LD8 has no inpatient psychiatric beds nor detox programs for over 23 hours. Meth use is on the rise. Those released from prison and jail has many mental health problems that contribute to crime. LD8 has a severe mental health provider shortage and access issues. We must not think of mental health as a distinct entity but part of healthcare services as a whole. These services must be adequately funded, affordable and ensure access to the provider’s everyone needs.”
- If elected, please describe the top two sustainability issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“We must address Climate Change and show, as a state, we are willing to work on this issue. We should sign on to the Paris Climate Accord as many other states have done. We should have incentives to buy electric cars and use solar. I would start with a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags. An easy fix but an important one.”
“Many rural communities in my district do not have broadband and it is necessary to a growing economy and the health and welfare of its residents. We must do more and ensure all rural areas have access to broadband.”
- If elected, please describe the top two helping children issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“Education helps children. Education should be priority number one. They only get 13 years to get it right. We must fund childcare assistance for working families and full-day kindergarten for all. We should also have preschool programs in all communities for all children to better prepare them for life, school and level the playing field for everyone. We must support those who care for family and kin and provide dollars for this important issue.”
- If elected, please describe the top two helping the most vulnerable issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“We must prioritize affordable housing for all and address our homeless crisis. My district has an issue with affordable housing. We must continue to address substance abuse and the consequences for the family and community. Meth use is on the rise in many rural areas. Mental health access is a major issue, especially in my rural district. “
- If elected, please describe the top two law enforcement issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“Arizona has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world. We must do a better job to decrease recidivism by developing better programs in our prisons to address the return to community life. We should look at the decriminalization of drug offenses and address the mental health issue is it really is. I believe we should eliminate Capital Punishment in Arizona.”
- If elected, please describe the top two immigration issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“I support DACA and protecting our dreamers and will fight for their rights. I would like to forbid private prisons and institutions from housing and profiting off of immigrants and refugees in Arizona.”
“I believe in secure borders but I also believe in fairness and humanity. I don’t believe in taking money from budgets that benefit people to build a wall. Nor do I want our lands to be damaged by a wall that encroaches on property rights, wildlife, and sacred grounds.”
“Every refugee should have the ability to state their case for asylum and have access to counsel and support. I have two detention facilities in my District Eight, which are privately owned. I am against privately funded detention. No one should make a profit of detaining refugees. These should be federal or state-run centers. I also believe every detainee should be treated humanely. They should receive needed medical care and adequate nutrition. They are not criminals; they are people seeking a better life. I know of women who miscarry due to a poor diet and lack of medical care in detention. There are a high suicide rate and inadequate medical treatment in local centers. They are not immunized, yet those that work with them go out to the community and may spread disease. We need to care for these people in detention with dignity and respect. I also practiced medicine in migrant clinics in California. We need these migrant workers for our fields and in agriculture. We would not eat without them. These are the hardest workers I know and we must treat our migrants with the respect they deserve. Most of us are from immigrant lineage. I am a second-generation American. Immigrants are good for our country.”
- If elected, please describe the top issues facing women, minorities, and the LGBTQ communities that you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“We must protect women’s reproductive rights in Arizona. I would fight to protect access to contraception and all healthcare needs for women in our state. We must ratify the ERA. I would also work to outlaw fake clinics, Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) in our state. These organizations take our tax dollars and use them to manipulate and lie to women. They do not provide healthcare, they function on the fringes of our society and prey on the most vulnerable. I would support the LGBTQ community by mandating Age-Appropriate Sex Education for all students in all public schools statewide.”
- If elected, please describe the top two government reform issues you would like to focus on as a legislator?
“We must have a mandatory code of ethics and functional reliable ethics committee in both chambers of the legislature. We must demand and give the people a transparent, accountable government at all levels in Arizona.”
“I am for Outlaw Dirty Money. Dark money must come out from the shadows. The voters and citizens have a right to know who donates to whom. I have signed the petition, have circulated them and will support this initiative with gusto.”
- Are there any issues not mentioned in the previous questions that you feel should be addressed by the Legislature.
“Arizona has a chance in 2020 to get this right. We have a chance to protect voting rights, expand good healthcare, educate our children and support our economy. Big business will not save us, corporations will not protect us. We must act by bringing good people into government who care and will fight for what is right, not for what is profitable. The government is meant to protect and help those who need a hand up. We must act with integrity, honesty, and selflessness. This is not about “me”. This is about “us”. I am running because I know you and I will work for you. I will work to give you a better life. I have no other agenda but to serve.”
Both have voted to:
- Fund education at pre-2008 recession levels.
- Stifle the ballot initiative process.
- Reduce the minimum wage for teenagers.
- Interfere with a woman’s right to choose.
- Obstruct campaign finance disclosures.
- Allow nonlethal (????) weapons on college campuses.
If elected, Ms. Girard would represent the needs of the people of Legislative District Eight in a different way. Hers is forward, not backward; people-centered, not corporate and ALEC driven.
She is a candidate the people in LD Eight should consider when voting on November 3, 2020.