Maricopa County Supervisor Steven Gallardo has declared his candidacy to become the next Chairperson of the Arizona Democratic Party.

 

A public servant that has served in county election positions, school boards, the State House and Senate, and the Maricopa Board of Supervisors, Mr. Gallardo has vowed to partner with the county Democratic chairs of all of Arizona’s 15 counties to create the infrastructure necessary to reelect Joe Biden, elect a Democratic Senator, and flip the State Legislature blue.

Saying “the 2024 election starts now,” Mr. Gallardo maintains that his knowledge, experience, and campaign skills, are vital ingredients to leading the party to victory.

Mr. Gallardo graciously took time to discuss his candidacy to become the next Arizona Democratic Party Chairperson.

The questions and his responses are below.

  • Please tell the readers at least two qualifications you have to become the next chairperson of the Arizona Democratic Party.

“My ability to engage folks and bring people to the table. My ability to not only broaden our scope but also the ability to bring new folks to the table and able fundraise. I’ve been an elected official for many years, having to raise money. on the local level and as well statewide, I’ve participated in Presidential campaigns, I’ve helped on statewide initiatives. I know how to bring in new monies. I know how to bring in other folks that support our agenda. I believe I have the ability to take the party to another plateau, to be able to expand our voter base, to engage new voters, and to raise money and build an infrastructure that’s going to be very successful in 2024.”

  • Please tell the readers at least two reasons you would like to become the next chairperson of the Arizona Democratic Party.

“I believe this is an opportunity that Democrats have to not only take over the legislature once and for all but be able to elect a Democrat to the United States, Senate and also deliver 11 electoral votes for our Presidential Nominee. I believe I have the ability to reach out and bring people to the table. I want to be able to create an infrastructure that includes all 15 counties. One of the biggest comments I get from most of the county chairs, is they feel left out of the democratic election process. I want to be able to bring them into the fold and I give them my commitment that I will be. I will travel the state and include them all. In order for us to be successful, we need 15 strong counties. The stronger the counties, the stronger the state party. This is a partnership. It is working together. It’s giving the tools and the resources to all 15 counties in order for them to be successful, to be able to grow their party, to bring in new voters, to bring in first-time voters, voters that have tended to sit on the sideline, to bring them back into the mold, and to be able to have a successful election. In order for us to be successful in 2024, we need to bring everyone in. I believe my ability to travel the state, my ability to bring in new voters, to be able to create an infrastructure is going to be key to 2024 as also working with our current statewide elected officials like Governor Katie Hobbs. She has a legislative agenda, I think as party chairs, it is our job to help support that agenda, but more importantly, create a legislature in which she can work in. Right now, we’re very close. We’re one seat apart in both the House and the Senate. We had great strides in the last two election cycles. Now it’s time to take it over the finish line.  I believe I had the tools to be able to make that happen.”

Working with all 15 counties, hypothetically would you devote the same equal resources to Mohave that you would to Yavapai or Pinal?

“The vast majority of the votes are in Maricopa County and Pima. I get that we need to be able to put resources where we’re going to be able to garner the most votes. But you also have 13 other counties outside of Pima and Maricopa County that you need to concentrate on. The biggest complaint is they’re left out. They don’t have the resources or the tools they need in order to grow their party. In order to take over the legislature and if you are not able to grow outside of Pima and Maricopa County, we’re going to have a hard time winning statewide. We’re going to have a hard time winning initiatives. We’re going to have a hard time delivering 11. Electoral Votes to our Democratic nominee. We need to be able to not only focus on Maricopa and Pima Counties but also focus on the other 13 counties, making sure they have the tools and the resources that they need in order to grow. A lot of that is just talking with them. I’m on a listening tour right now. I’m listening to all the county chairs to be able to make sure, what they need. I mean, they know their area better than, than I would ever know. I know what works in Maricopa County. What works in Maricopa County won’t necessarily work in Mohave or Yuma or Prescott or even Santa Cruz County. They have their unique way of growing their party. We need to go in and try to support what they’re doing. Let’s work in partnership. That is what I think the recipe for success in 2024 is. It’s not even just the counties, it’s all the clubs. It’s all the caucuses. The stronger these clubs, caucuses, and county chairs are, the stronger the state party is.”

I understand Maricopa Pima. Coconino are the three big counties. But if you had to prioritize reaching out, would you give more emphasis to say a Pinal or Yavapai as opposed to a Mohave when you’re expanding the outreach?

“I don’t think it’s picking winners and losers. It’s not every county is unique to say what is needed in Pinal County is similar to what is needed in Mojave. It’s about partnership sitting down, talking to them, and asking: What is it that you need in order to be successful? What is your list of priorities within the county and seeing how we can manage some of that under the bigger umbrella?  I can’t say exactly how much is needed in Mojave County. I can’t say exactly what Mohave County needs but I can sit there and listen and if there’s a way for us to strengthen that. I think when I go on to these rural counties and they haven’t had much discussion with the state party, that’s troublesome. I think we need to be able to engage them. We need to talk to them. I had a conversation with the leaders in Santa Cruz County. One of their big things is they’re looking to raise money so they can have their county headquarters for a year. It’s like $3,000. We can help with that. Let’s focus on fundraising for stuff like that and focus on growing the party. How do we bring in new voters? How do we bring in students? How do we bring in retirees? How do we start growing our base? So, when election time comes, We’re ready to go. The 2024 election starts today and it starts with working and listening to all 15 counties. I’m traveling the state tomorrow. I’m headed down south meeting with all the different county chairs and meeting with the elected officials. My promise to them is this is not the one time they’re going to see me. You’re going to see me on a regular basis. The interaction with the state party and the county parties is so critical now in terms of their resources, you know, that we need to talk about that. Some of our counties have great infrastructure. I was in Prescott Valley. They have a wonderful infrastructure for getting people out to vote and growing their party. Some of our other counties may take a little handholding and work them so they can have their own infrastructure. Maybe it’s taking what Prescott has done and maybe duplicating it in other counties. There are a lot of things we can do but the first step is sitting down, talking about it, asking what are your needs, and then start working towards accomplishing their goals. Fundraising is going to be huge. This is my message to Governor Katie Hobbs. We need, everyone involved in fundraising. We have opportunities to raise a lot of money to build a fundraising mechanism that is going to out metric anything the counties or the state has ever had.”

  • If elected to become the next Chairperson, what will be your three most important priorities for preparing for the 2024 election cycle?

“My message is clear. The 2024 election starts today. We also have local municipal elections in 2023 that are critical and we are going to be able to elect Democrats on the local levels as well. So, it’s not only gearing up for 2024.  It’s also getting ready for 2023, and it starts really by bringing everyone to the table. It is talking. It is about listening. It is about understanding every different county and municipality and how they operate under the bigger umbrella. And it’s, really giving attention to all 15 counties across the entire state. If we’re going to win statewide, we have to have a strategy that is statewide, that is going to work in all 30 legislative districts as well. I mean, our goal is very simple In 2024, we need to win back the legislature, which we’re very close to doing. Two, deliver 11 Electoral Votes to our next presidential nominee. Third, also making sure we have a Democrat elected to the United States Senate. These are big goals but it takes us starting today. It takes playing in all the legislative districts. We’re going to have to make some tough decisions but we’re going to make sure everyone is at the table, and that we have a statewide strategy that’s going to win in 2024. We are very close. We have great strides in 2020 and in 2022. We’re going to be able to be competitive in 2024. Another thing is there are so many of those individuals on the other side of the aisles, these MAGA individuals that continue to want to undermine our elections and our democracy. I’ve been sued so many times in my capacity as a supervisor and even personally. They’re suing us personally now and they continue to push false claims and statements. They’re undermining our democracy. They continue to attack everything.”

“We’ve seen some unfortunate incidents in Cochise County with their Board of Supervisors and also in Mohave County. We need to be prepared. I want to make sure we have a legal strategy as well to defend our election in all 15 counties. There were so many times, on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and we were sued over 20 times by Kari Lake and Donald Trump. I want the party to engage in those battles to defend our elections We shouldn’t just wait and watch what the Board of Supervisors is doing. Maricopa County has been very lucky. We’ve been united to push back against Kari Lake and Donald Trump, but when you have, a board like Mohave County that tends to want to go MAGA, we need to have a legal infrastructure to go in there and defend our elections in Mohave County Superior Court. It is the same thing with Cochise County. We need to go in there and defend our election in Cochise County Superior Court. We need to have an active role in defending our democracy and not just wait for others. We need to have a legal strategy to defend our democracy. Secretary of State, Adrian Fontes, and Governor Katie Hobbs have both done a great job in their previous capacity to defend our democracy.”

“Republicans have made it clear. If you don’t think like them or look like them, they don’t want you to vote. You see it in the legislation that they pass that continues to suppress the vote and make it more difficult for young people and retirees to be able to vote? They’re making it harder for county recorders to want to tabulate the ballots. I see it. I was here in the legislature. I know the legislative process. We need to be engaged there at the legislature pushing back on some of the false claims and, conspiracy theories that these Republican legislators continue to want to push. I think it’s upon us to let their constituency know what they’re doing. If they are pushing voter suppression bills, we need to let their constituency know if they’re voting to cut education funding. We need to let them know if they’re voting to make it harder for folks particularly low-income kids and poor families from having, healthcare. We need to let those folks in the Republican districts know exactly what their Republican lawmakers are doing.”

“I’ve always said that when it comes to our issues: democratic values, healthcare, education, the environment, the economy; you look at all these issues, the vast majority of voters in the state of Arizona, independent Republicans will support what, what Democrats are doing. Our job is to let everyone know the Democratic platform, what we support, what we think will move Arizona forward, help our economy, help our education system, and help our environment. This is what we need to do as Democrats. This is a full-time job. This is a lot of moving pieces. I’m committed to giving all my time and effort to doing one thing.”

“That is to grow our party, engage new voters, and deliver Democratic votes in 2024. That is my mission. This is the commitment you have from me and Governor Katie Hobbs.”

  • Please tell the readers at least two reasons you should be selected for the Party Chairpersonship over other candidates.

“I know Yolanda. She is a dear friend. I love her to death. I think you have great candidates. This shows you the strength of our party and how important the upcoming election is and how folks are really taking the issues of Arizona. Anytime you have multiple candidates entering the race, and I’m sure there’s going to be quite a few candidates putting their name in the hat to be the State Party Chair. It shows you the excitement but I think I have the tools, the ability, and the understanding of the state in order to deliver victory. I was the chair of the minimum wage campaign back in 2006 when we didn’t even have a minimum wage. We went out there. This was several years ago when it was not as popular as, as it is now. We fought business communities and others that kept wanting to keep the minimum wage off the table. We forced it. We got it passed. I understand statewide politics. I’ve worked on presidential campaigns statewide. I understand what we need to do in order to win statewide. I understand how to raise money. I have my own Rolodex. Governor Hobbs has her own Rolodex. We’re able to bring in national monies. We’re able to bring everyone to the table. I’m honored to have the support of many organized labor organizations like United Food Workers 99, the Arizona Education Association, the Sheet Metals, and Carpenters. These are large union organizations that really want to see Arizona moving forward. They want to be able to invest in our party infrastructure. They want to see a pathway to victory. I believe I’m in the position to create that roadmap and be able to work with all 15 counties. My promise to all 15 counties is that I will you on a regular basis. I have no problem jumping in my car, driving to Yuma, or jumping in my car and going to Mohave or Santa Cruz, or any part of the state of Arizona. Again, it’s a partnership and I think I have the knowledge, the ability, the resources, and the tools to make this happen. This is why I believe Governor Hobbs called me up and said, “Steve, let’s do this together. And I said I’m on board.” That is our mission. For the next two years, we’re going to deliver Arizona, make it dark blue, and be able to have a legislature that not only she can work, but will work on behalf of the entire state of Arizona, deliver 11 electoral votes and deliver the United States Senate seat to Democrats.”

  • Is there anything, not covered in the first four questions that you would like the readers to know about yourself or your candidacy to become the next chairperson of the Arizona Democratic Party?

“I’m a native of Arizona born and raised right here in West Phoenix out of a small town called Tolleson, Arizona. I started my adult career in the Maricopa County Elections Department. I was there for 14 years in an elections department working with candidates. My job was to help candidates not fall into trouble or help them answer any questions they had. I left the elections department to run for the legislature and I’ve been in public office for over 20 years, I’ve been on the Cartwright Elementary and Phoenix Union High School Boards. I have been in the State House, the State Senate, and now on the Maricopa Board of Supervisors. I believe it is our opportunity now in the state of Arizona to push us over that finish line to deliver the legislature to Democrats and deliver 11 electoral votes as we did in 2020. I was honored to be a presidential elector in 2020, but want to work to deliver the electoral votes to our next presidential candidate nominee. For the Senate, we’ll have a Democrat on our ticket to run for the United States Senate and make sure they are elected.”

“This is the big task I’m up for. If I didn’t think I would be successful, I would not do it. My commitment to all 15 county chairs, I will do everything I can to work with them in partnership. We’re one big family. We’re all in this together. We all have to work together. And I will be a State Party Chair that will be in their communities on a regular basis. The more I understand about the local communities, the local counties, the better I can serve as a State Party Chair.”

“Again, partnership. It’s not one side versus the other. Partnership with strong 15 counties. The stronger the counties, the stronger the state.”

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