Not long ago, southern Arizona legislators worked together to serve the needs of their communities, regardless of their political affiliations. Today, the willingness to collaborate is gone.
Instead of supporting their own communities, some southern Arizona legislators have sworn allegiance to Maricopa County leadership; sworn allegiance to those leaders who deny Tucson its fair share of state taxes, deny us money for law enforcement and deny us money for K-12 and higher education; sworn allegiance to those who interfere with our health decisions, meddle in local education policy and limit our ability to provide adequately for child welfare.
Consider the following questions:
• Do you want accessible, affordable health care?
• Do you want public schools that prepare children for college or employment?
• Do you want UofA to be a world-class university?
• Do you want children to be safe?
• Do you want the poor to have a chance to raise themselves from poverty?
A “no” answer means you’re happy with the way business is being done at the Legislature. A “yes” answer means you think change is necessary.
When we represented the former District 14 in the Legislature, we had colleagues who had a certain illness known as ideological impairment. The illness prevented civil discourse, compromise and any ability to work across party lines. It was an illness hazardous to the health of our state.
Today, this illness has spread to epidemic proportion, but there is a cure. The cure is we the people. As we approach the 2012 elections, consider the following three courses of action:
Check facts: Just because you’ve read it or heard it, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true. Remember Sen. Jon Kyl’s aide, who said that Kyl didn’t intend a statement he made on the U.S. Senate floor to be factual.
Ask the right questions: Candidates talk the talk, but do they walk the walk? No one is against good education, but ask candidates direct questions about what they support now and what they will support once elected. If they are elected, hold them to what they’ve said.
Speak out: Tell them what you expect. Tell them when you agree and when you disagree. Tell them in letters, by telephone, by email and in person. Remember, you can withhold the one thing they want from you — your vote.
Seek out those who believe that Arizona can be more. Former Attorney General Grant Woods once said: “Arizona is a wonderful place to live unless you’re a child.” It’s still true today. Don’t let that stand.
Finally, join together with others who are sick of our state being at the bottom, becoming fodder for comedians and an embarrassment. We know that government can’t do it all, but government can do it better.
Together, we can.
— Ruth Solomon is a former Tucson state senator. Marion Pickens and Herschella Horton are former state representatives from Tucson.