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CD2 Congress Candidate Yahya Yuksel Accelerating a Come-from-behind Campaign

Read: Accused Rapist Yahya Yuksel Must Drop Out Now from CD2 Race

Yahyah Yuksel, a Democratic candidate for Tucson’s CD2 Congressional Seat, plans to capture votes by emphasizing universal health care, creating jobs that pay well and building a well-educated workforce.

“We know what is right for the people. It takes people with courage, integrity and experience to get that done, and that’s what we offer,” he said at a lively open house recently.

Charismatic, intelligent and energetic, Yuksel burst onto the campaign scene in March, stole the show at a candidate forum and promptly filed 2,400 signatures to get on the ballot (only 1,274 were required).

Offering a brunch of scrambled eggs, refried beans, tortillas, salsa, and coffee, he showed off his bustling campaign headquarters at 3776 N 1st Ave. (near Roger Road) in Tucson. He is the first in the field of 7 Democratic candidates to hold an open house where voters, staff, and the candidate could freely meet and mingle. He plans to hold more.

“We have a huge office, bigger than everyone else’s office,” he said. “It’s not that we’re raising a ton more money. We’re more efficient with our money.”

Building a campaign

Yuksel knows how to build a campaign. At age 14 he founded Teen Democrats in Tucson, and organized youth groups to campaign for John Kerry’s 2004 presidential bid.  At age 19, Yuksel worked for Congresswoman Gabby Giffords’ successful congressional campaign. Afterward, he served as the Co-Chair for Vice Mayor Karin Uhlich’s successful 2009 re-election campaign.Born and raised in Tucson, Yuksel is an attorney. He has a Masters in Chinese law from China’s top university. His heritage is Persian, Turkish and Kurdish, giving him a memorable name that is perfect for a bumper sticker. He’ll need to work fast, because the primary is on August 28 and the early mail-in ballots go out in less than 60 days. To meet the challenge Yuksel has assembled an election machine of 20 people – ranging from young interns to seasoned campaigners:

  • Kenny Jacobs came from Portland, OR, to be the Campaign Coordinator. He worked as Executive Director of the Pima County Democratic Party for the 2008 election cycle and also worked on the Obama campaign of 2008. His first federal campaign was with Jesse Jackson’s run for President in 1988. In the early 1990s, he worked statewide with Arizona for Fairness in support of  LGBT issues.
  • Dr. Robert Berrier is the Campaign Strategist. For 25 years he headed leadership and organizational development for clients of Spring International, a national survey and focus group business. Berrier has run 60 campaigns for Democrats and progressives and won 59 of them.
  • Laura Little is the social media director. She is the Director of Marketing and Fan Engagement for UA Athletics, in charge of sports marketing and digital advertising.
  • Diane Cuneo is the Creative Director in charge of advertising. She has advertising agency experience.
  • Ivanna Ferra is the Campaign Manager, in charge of reaching young voters. She is a Tucson business owner with an education in marketing. She has worked with Mi Familia Vota, which visits schools, community centers and homes of citizens to register voters.
  • Priscilla Teran is organizing a novel video ad competition for the campaign. She is the General Manager of Tucson Bike Share and was a Community Outreach and Recruiter for the University of Arizona.

Yuksel is competing with Democrats who have been elected to office, including Ann Kirkpatrick, Matt Heinz, and Bruce Wheeler. “Yeah, they’be been in office before, but that doesn’t mean they succeeded in office,” Yuksel said. “We need a new generation with new ideas to get into Congress and represent the people of Southern Arizona.”

Healthcare“We want to have affordable and universal healthcare for everybody, from the day they’re born to the day they die,” Yuksel said. “I see a path forward with our current system, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). We just have to reduce a lot of costs and continually mitigate the growing levels of epidemics, the rising age levels and the cost of new medical advances.””We also have to hold the pharmaceutical companies accountable, as well as the state hospital networks and the insurance companies,” he said. “The ideas behind the Affordable Care Act are not just from Obama. They have been proposed since Truman first envisioned it and Lyndon Johnson enacted Medicare in 1965.”

Jobs that pay wellWhen I was in China I gained a lot of experience learning about how they attracted investment and how they attracted a huge amount of jobs to their region,” he said. “It’s about industrialization and focusing on your strengths. Southern Arizona has a strong potential for solar energy, optics, planetary sciences, and cybersecurity. These are strong sectors that will bring high-paying jobs.”“But it also a matter of education. I’m not talking about a 4-year or 10-year education. I’m talking about quick vocational training programs that are developed in tandem with the private sector. We’ve seen it done successfully all across the US.”“A lot of people don’t want or need to go to 4-year education to get the job that is high-paying. The 2016 median household income is under $50,000 — it’s not that high. And one of three single-parent families live in poverty. Eight out of 10 families live paycheck to paycheck. It’s incredibly important to have a high-paying job.We can do better by focusing on niches that are strong in this region,” he said. “We can focus on building a strong, educated workforce, and making sure the government is supporting that development through economic incentives.”

Campaign finance reform“Campaign finance reform is the biggest issue facing our democracy,” he said.  Candidates like me are spending a lot more time than they should on raising money because it costs so much to advertise. “We’ve got to change it. We have public media like NPR and C-SPAN. Can’t we make them the primary sources of information about candidates?” he asked.Let’s also expose and disclose all money — from campaign contributions to individual donations — no exceptions,” he said. “We can create this system where the only money a candidate can get is from the voters in that district. It’s a small price to pay for democracy.” “Right now I’m traveling across the US raising funds. Let’s incentivize a system where people in the district are the only ones making contributions to the candidates. That’s what democracy is — not candidates spending 75% of their time seeking contributions.”

A young generation with new ideasDespite the odds, Yuksel is upbeat. “I’m willing to work with everyone to find common ground that we can all stand on. That’s the most important thing. We have to get back to the basics of working together again.”“Congress is so broken. We’ve got to work together. This young generation has new ideas to solve the issues ahead. We will reinvent our institutions so that the 21st century can be another American century.”“I would like everyone to come down and see the energy and the magic that’s happening in our office. It’s hard to explain the momentum we have. We have a lot of people volunteering and getting us out there. We’re going to win this, that’s for sure.”Learn more at his official website www.yahya4congress.com.

10 Reasons Why the Government is a Good Thing

Good governmentAs English philosopher Thomas Hobbes wrote in 1651, life without government is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Don’t let the Republicans control the narrative that government “is bad” or “is the problem.” The argument is bogus.

My father used to say that “civilization is the last bubble in a long fermentation.” He was a City Manager and believed that a city was the loftiest expression of society. He grew up when FDR was President and believed that public service was the highest calling of a citizen.

How far the image of the government has fallen since my father died. Years of propaganda from right-wing libertarians have made “government” a bad word. Disinformation from the billionaire Koch Brothers has brought attacks on “government schools” and “big government.”

The next time you meet someone who thinks the government is a bad thing, talk to them about this list of 10 reasons that government is a good thing. The government carries out the rules of our society and takes action for the public in efforts that people cannot do as well individually. Government activities that everybody likes are law enforcement, roads, the courts and trash pickup.

But there’s so much more that we get from the government:

Environmental safety that guarantees us clear air and water. Without this, we’d have choking air pollution like in Shanghai and Delhi, India, and poisonous rivers like the Ganges in India and the Yellow River in China. When government is working properly it promotes a clean power plan, works to combat climate change, establishes flood building standards, prohibits coal dumping in streams, and participates in world climate agreements. 2017 was the hottest year on record in Tucson, and only government can prevent it from getting worse. Continue reading

Billy Kovacs Outlines 5-Point Plan to Grow Arizona’s Economy

Democratic Congressional Candidate Billy Kovacs

Democratic Congressional Candidate Billy Kovacs

Democratic candidate Billy Kovacs outlined a detailed plan for how he would grow Arizona’s economy as Tucson’s Congressman.

“We can grow our economy without giving massive tax breaks for corporations,” he said at a recent meeting of the Democrats of Greater Tucson.

Among the five serious candidates, Kovacs is the only one emphasizing the economy in Congressional District 2. As Bill Clinton pointed out in 1992, winning elections is about “the economy, stupid!”

In a nutshell, his plan focuses on:

  • Education – creating an educated workforce.
  • Renewable resources – solar energy and energy storage.
  • Public transportation – expanding the Tucson streetcar in all directions and preserving Amtrak in Arizona.
  • Infrastructure – creating millions of jobs with a $1 trillion investment over 10 years.
  • Immigration – creating a path to citizenship for 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants.

“We need to attract companies and workers to Arizona, and I’m talking about smaller companies that want to live in Arizona because of our natural resources and trained personnel from the university — and not for tax breaks,” he said.

Education

According to Kovacs, the US Department of Education is gutting public education with budget cuts to after-school programs, teacher training, Pell Grants, literacy programs and even school lunches. He calls for:
Continue reading

The ASU Foundation’s dark money contribution to Corp Comm race illustrates everything that is wrong with private “philanthropy” and dark money

asu

Per AZ Republic reporter Ryan Randazzo:

The non-profit that raises money for Arizona State University accepted money from Arizona Public Service Co. in 2013 and the same year donated to a political group that helped defeat pro-solar candidates in last year’s elections.

The ASU Foundation accepted $181,000 from the non-profit APS Foundation and made a $100,000 donation to a political group called “Save Our Future Now,” which played heavily in the political campaigns last year for the Corporation Commission.

The non-profit, investigative Sunlight Foundation in Washington, D.C., first reported the donations Tuesday, citing public tax records from the non-profits.

Continue reading

UPDATED with New Events: Progressives, Mark Your Calendars for April Events!

RonstadtApril3 Update: New events have been added for April 6 and 9.

It’s only April 1, but already there is an impressive line-up of progressive events taking shape this month. In addition to these educational events, there are multiple fund-raisers for candidates, parties, and causes in April.  The list below is not meant to be all-inclusive. (Check out Facebook and the Pima County Democratic Party calendar or the calendar on Blog for Arizona for other events– including multiple opportunities to donate.) The Tucson events included here are all free and are related to one or more Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) core policy issues: economic and social justice, universal healthcare, clean elections, ending corporate personhood, clean environment, or ending the wars.

April 2: Community Vision for the Ronstadt Bus Center

The Tucson Bus Riders Union and the Primavera Foundation are sponsoring a community forum to gather Tucsonans’ ideas on what should be done with the Ronstadt Transit Center on Congress Street. For several years, developers have been eyeing the Ronstadt Center for demolition and relocation out of downtown. If you believe that it is important for a sustainable city to have a bus terminal downtown—near restaurants, retail shops, major employers, and the new street car line—come to this meeting at the Rialto Theater, beginning at 5:30. For more information, call 624-0312 or email busriders@tucsonbusridersunion.com or go to the event’s Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/events/496939023698809/.

April 3: Solar Energy Efficiency vs the Status Quo

The Tucson Chapter of Drinking Liberally is sponsoring a joint presentation by Bruce Plenk, City of Tucson Solar Energy Coordinator, and Russell Lowes, Sierra Club Rincon Group Energy Chair and Research Director forwww.SafeEnergyAnalyst.org. The DL social hour begins at 6 p.m., with the speakers beginning around 7 p.m. on the patio of The Shanty. For more information, check out DL’s Facebook event http://www.facebook.com/events/104680899727634/.

More events after the jump.

NEW,  April 6: Imperialism and Resistance in Central America

Chuck
Kaufman, coordinator of the Alliance
for Global Justice, will present this talk at the Salt of the Earth Labor
College (SELC). With years of solidarity work with popular movements in Central
America, including recent trips to Honduras,
Kaufman is one of the strongest voices for a change in US foreign
policy. He has been calling for an end to US policies that leave many Central
Americans in poverty. The talk begins at 2 p.m. at SELC, 1902 E. Irene Vista. For more information, check out their website http://saltearthlaborcollege.org/index.php/schedule.

April 7 & 28: Cyclovia Tucson Car-Free Bike Rides

Cyclovia– a community event celebrating cycling and sustainable living– is holding two “car-free” and “care-free” community bike rides this month. On April 7, a downtown loop ride will take participants from downtown through the Armory Park Neighborhood. On April 28, the Cyclovia route will travel through midtown Tucson neighborhoods. Booths, demonstrations, and kids’ activities will dot the routes; both rides will be 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Go to Cyclovia’s websitehttp://www.cycloviatucson.org/ for maps and more information.

April 9: The Privatization of Prisons: History and Effects

Saguaro Eastside Democrats will present Diane Wilson who will discuss the history of prison privatization and the results of this trend in Arizona and nationally. Her information is based on research by the American Friends Service Committee and the PEW Foundation. The meeting will be held at the New Spirit Lutheran Church, 8701 E. Old Spanish Trail; socializing begins at 6:30 p.m., formal program at 7 p.m. For more information, go to the Pima Democratic Party’s calendarhttp://www.pimadems.org/event/sed-the-privatization-of-prisons-history-and-effects/.

NEW, April 9: AFSC JusticePalooza

The
American Friends Service Committee's JusticePalooza will be held at La Cocina
in downtown, beginning at 6 p.m. Please join AFSC and friends for a night of
music, entertainment, and good food and drink. There's no cover, but AFSC
gets 10% of everything you purchase at La Cocina. For more information,
including a list of musical guests, go to their Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/events/547114365310197/.

April 11: Stop Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Not long after Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio won re-election in November 2012, a recall began. William James Fisher, Recall Arpaio Campaign Chair, will detail how and why Democrats, Republicans, and Independents are working together to recall Sheriff Joe. The event begins at 6 p.m. at Las Cazuelitas Event Center, 1365 W. Grant Road. For more information about the recall, go to Respect Arizona’s website https://www.recallarpaio.com/.

April 15: Can a Local Bank Protect You from a National Recession?

Democrats of Greater Tucson will present a talk on public banking by Jim Hannley, a registered investment advisor and chair of PDA Tucson’s Economic and Social Justice Issue Organizing Team. DGT meets for lunch at noon at the Dragon View Restaurant, 400 N. Bonita. Buffet lunch is $8.50.