Rep. J.D. Mesnard’s 15-year history at the Capitol is certainly evident as he pursues the position of Speaker of the Arizona State House of Representatives. In a recent article praising Mr. Mesnard and highlighting his long history at the Capitol, Hank Stephenson mentions that Mesnard sent out a 27-page document detailing his plan to reconstruct the House as a means to secure votes for the speakership. This proposal included a promise to restore integrity to the chamber, empower rank and file lawmakers, and make the House run more efficiently.
I wouldn’t know about these promises and proposals because as a Democratic legislator I did not receive Mr. Mesnard’s 27-page letter. He sent his proposal only to his fellow incumbent Republicans and the Republican candidates running for the House. This indicates that Mr. Mesnard has learned little about leadership from his many years at the Capitol.
A true leader is inclusive, not exclusive.
Mr. Mesnard’s decision to send his proposal only to Republicans is highly exclusive and only propagates the dysfunction that is inherent in a system government that considers only one point of view, like the Arizona Legislature.
I don’t understand how one can propose to restore integrity to the House when, by his own actions, he flat out dismisses a large portion of its membership. Democrats currently hold 24 out of 60 House seats. That’s 40 percent.
Last year there were approximately 400 bills passed by the Legislature and sent to the governor. Only about 1 percent of those bills had a Democratic lawmaker as prime sponsor. What Mr. Mesnard’s actions tell me is that he supports business as usual in the Arizona Legislature: Continue to exclude the minority and consider only one point of view. Continue the dysfunction in the legislative branch. Dismiss 40 percent of the electorate as the Legislature builds future state budgets.
I respect J.D. Mesnard, even though we frequently disagree. It is unfortunate and disappointing that he does not extend that same respect to me and the democratic caucus.
Dr. Randall Friese represents District 9 in the state House of Representatives.