FORWARD ARIZONA!

FORWARD ARIZONA!

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My home-state, Arizona, is a great place to hang your hat! The incredible diversity of people, geography, and opportunity make our state a special place, indeed. Visitors from all parts of the planet marvel at the natural beauty and vastness of Arizona’s landscape. It is with a sense of pride that I say, “I am a native Arizonan.”

Yet, Arizona has the potential to be so much greater!

A central theme of our campaign is about empowering citizens at the ballot box, by drastically reforming the electoral ‘root of all evil’ – corporate special interest money in elections and governance. This is a state and national crisis that strikes at the very heart of democracy. The core purpose of every elected official at all levels of government – local, state, national – ought to be to protect people and our planet. Isn’t that what good governance should be about?

Fighting for Justice to protect our People & our Planet — to represent the interests of Arizona’s families — is precisely the reason I am seeking the office of U.S. Senate.

We must ignite a peaceful revolution that rises up to say NO MORE! No more corporate special interest money in elections or governance. In the spirit of Arizona optimism, let’s believe that Corporate PAC money is rejected by citizens, so that the corrupting influence of corporate contributions is terminated. That will be a big first step in implementing the following progressive agenda.

THE BOLD AGENDA — A TEN POINT PLAN

1. Fund Public Education K – 18 at a level on par with the top 5 states in the United States. Money DOES matter to build the kind of 21st Century Public Schools necessary for optimal education practices. Enormous investments are required. In order to attract top-flight people to become professional educators, and to retain their talents in the classrooms, another big investment is necessary. These investments cannot be just for a year or two – educational investments must be sustained over time. If we Arizonans are committed to a major sustained investment in Public Education our investment will pay huge dividends. Communities and states that have a great reputation for superb Public Schools, attract hard working families and entrepreneurs. A top-flight Educational System helps create the kinds of neighborhoods, towns, or states that responsible citizens want to live, work, and invest in. Strong financial support for Public Education represents smart public policy and a very wise long-term investment.

2. Provide Universal Health Care for ALL Arizonans. It is shortsighted and ethically wrong to ignore the health care needs of our fellow citizens. Quality, affordable health insurance must be viewed as a Right, not a privilege. Without a secure, health care safety net for all people, communities and states suffer in many significant ways. Think about every aspect of life that is adversely affected due to inadequate health care coverage. Productivity in every endeavor, organization, and corporation clearly suffers. The human cost and the financial costs are immense. Surely, we want and need healthy families and a productive work force. If we invest in our health, we shall reap handsome returns. Arizona’s economy will prosper. Communities throughout our state will benefit from a healthier citizenry, and a healthy work/business environment that attracts new investment. Arizona residents of all ages – kids to retirees, will benefit and enjoy residing in a state that is healthy and Moving Forward!

3. Support a Humane & Neighborly Immigration Policy. Arizonans want a common sense solution to immigration and border issues. We absolutely understand the need for strong border security. We also understand that there is a smart, cost-effective way to achieve security at the same time we build and maintain a strong, friendly relationship with Mexico. We must build bridges, not walls. It does not serve our security interests to erect a massive wall that will not accomplish its intended purpose, nor is such an albatross a smart investment for taxpayers. A massive, concrete wall structure is a foolish and barbaric idea. We can utilize advanced technology and beef up human resources on the border to accomplish effective security. And, perhaps most importantly, a friendly partnership with Mexico may be the best form of security of all. Without Mexico’s close cooperation, no barrier in the world will be effective.

A wise 21st Century Immigration Policy should be enacted by Congress. We do not need to reinvent the wheel. Nearly a decade ago, a bipartisan, comprehensive immigration policy was proposed. That proposed legislation had broad based support across the country. A very similar piece of legislation strikes the right balance. Enforcement of U.S. Immigration Law should be carried out with professionalism, due process, and compassion. Arizona must not allow this issue to become the whipping boy for extremists. Of course, criminals who are not legal residents should be deported. But, hardworking law-abiding individuals should be treated humanely and fairly. Arizona’s economy benefits enormously from a common sense partnership with Mexico. Plus, our culture and people-to-people relationship are also beneficiaries. The state of Arizona must lead the country in resolving this long-standing debate. It will help move Arizona and our nation forward in a super positive direction.

4. Be The World’s Leader in Renewable Energy Production. Arizona must capitalize on the one natural resource that always rises – sunshine! There is absolutely no reason under the sun that our state cannot lead the world in a solar energy revolution. All of Arizona’s elected leaders must come together to formulate a bold, strategic plan to make this happen. Opportunities abound for Arizona to attract entrepreneurs, investment, and skilled work force to develop cutting edge technology in all renewable energy sources. Leadership in government should articulate a ‘moon-landing’ type of vision that inspires all stakeholders to participate. Just imagine the potential win-win-win for Arizona! Most importantly, a crucial win for Planet Earth and climate science. Plus a big win for Arizona’s work force and economy. And, a smart win for investors and entrepreneurs. This sort of 21st Century Innovation would revolutionize our state, and the positive ripple effects would be felt in Public Education, Universal Health Care, and every other quality of life metric. Becoming the World’s leader in renewable energy innovation and production is a bright opportunity to move Arizona Forward that we must not squander.

5. Progressive Taxation for Small Businesses & Families. When middle income families and small businesses thrive, so will the entire Arizona economy. Additionally, there must always be proactive public policy that addresses the economic plight of lower income families struggling to enter the middle class. The right blend of progressive taxation, along with promoting a livable/minimum wage, gender pay equality, and a drastic reduction of income inequality will create an economic environment conducive to growth and prosperity. When working families and Main Street prospers, so will larger corporations and the macro-economic indicators. The foundation of a healthy free enterprise system keeps in check the forces of extreme greed. A progressive tax policy makes certain that ALL wealthy individuals and large corporations pay their fair share; cannot avoid AZ/U.S. taxes by sheltering assets abroad; and requires all profit centered enterprises to abide by “best practices” of corporate governance.

When income and wealth is fairly and responsibly distributed across the entire economy, both our state of Arizona and the USA, will experience an economic renaissance that aims to expand opportunity and leave no hard working family behind.

6. Build Arizona Infrastructure Projects until the cows come home! Big infrastructure projects require a robust public/private partnership. Public construction projects of all sizes that contribute to the efficient flow of goods and services throughout a free enterprise system should garner support from taxpayers. These public investments in critical infrastructure will reward our State mightily by enabling a healthy economy to sustain itself. Steady, long-term economic health should be the goal – not the quick, get-rich financial schemes perpetually cooked by Wall Street speculators.

7. Protect The People of Arizona and Our Natural Resources by giving Justice a seat at the table. Moving Arizona Forward can only happen when government works tirelessly to protect the health, safety, and welfare of ALL residents regardless of his/her personal preferences or attributes. A high priority of government must also be to protect Arizonans awesome natural resources – our land, water, air etc. Justice for our people & planet means that government works on OUR behalf, not the profit-making special interests that corrupt our democracy. Private enterprise will have ample opportunity to earn its fair share of the pie, without trampling the rights and necessary protections of the “greater good”. Arizona’s copper star will flourish if 5-STAR Justice shines brilliantly – Social Justice, Economic Justice, Environmental Justice, Electoral Justice, & Criminal Justice. Justice is a concept that runs deep & wide. Justice and liberty go hand in hand – equal partners in Moving Arizona Forward.

8. Rural Arizona Must Not Get Left Behind. The population and political power centers of Phoenix and Tucson sometimes overshadow the interests of rural Arizonans. We must make certain that the ‘health & welfare’ of our state is distributed fairly geographically. Rural Arizonans share the same aspirations and concerns for their families regarding quality Public Education, Universal Health Care, a wise Immigration Policy, Progressive Taxation for Small Businesses and working families, Infrastructure Investment, and strong protections based on Justice for ALL. But Rural residents often face obstacles in these critical quality of life areas due to a diminished tax base, or a remote geographic location that creates unique challenges urban dwellers may not deal with or even be fully aware of. This places a special responsibility on elected officials to listen to Rural residents, including Native American Tribes, and work diligently on their behalf to ensure ALL Arizonans have equal access to opportunity and vital services. Arizonans take great strides forward when both urban and rural residents share a common vision and purpose.

9. Abolish Private Prisons and erase Arizona’s image as the private incarceration capital of the world. This is a criminal justice issue that deserves special comment. The private prison “industry” casts an immoral shadow over our entire state.

Incarcerating people for profit may be the most despicable result of an extreme political philosophy that is hell-bent on privatizing everything – including JUSTICE — that clearly should fall under the direct jurisdiction of ‘We The People’ through governmental agencies that we empower. Prisons for profit violate the decent sensibilities of all Arizonans. Not only is the privatization of prisons immoral, these profiteer facilities are plagued with persistent problems related to working conditions, safety, professionalism, and rehabilitation. The private prison promoters frequently exploit rural communities by promising a rich revenue stream to local governments, and jobs, jobs, jobs. Never, must we Arizonans sell our souls, or our communities for a promised pot of ‘filthy lucre!’

Abolishing private prisons would represent a giant, righteous step in Moving Arizona Forward in a positive direction.

10. Strengthen Democracy and Celebrate Our Diversity. We strengthen our democracy when people are empowered, and when we show respect and tolerance to others who are different than ourselves. Democracy is an ideal that requires commitment, engagement, and nurturing. Often, we see that societies who enjoy considerable freedom, take that freedom for granted, as evidenced by political disengagement and low voter participation. In order for democracy to be vibrant and strong, the citizenry must remain vigilant and strong, well informed, and proactive. There will always exist elements within a free society that advocate an extreme agenda based on fear, bigotry, greed, nativism, and even authoritarianism. A vigilant, strong democracy can protect us from intolerance and extremism. That is the reason we must be engaged politically so that we elevate leaders who are committed to the ideals of Justice and Liberty, and who understand that preserving democratic ideals and practices is THE sacred work of representative government and true leadership.

‘Good government’ is ethical, inclusive, and doggedly aims to uphold democratic principles that serve the public’s interest. This means expanding voting opportunities; equal treatment under the law; and, subduing partisanship in favor of the whole ‘body politic’. It does not seek partisan advantage through voter suppression ploys, discrimination, or gerrymandering. And, it does not favor the wealthy, the powerful, and the corporatists who seek to influence and control the levers of power. Good government does not pass legislation that seeks to stifle citizen empowerment through ballot initiatives, or peaceful protests. Those legislators and officials who stoop to these unethical, illegal practices are working against democracy, in favor of autocracy and even authoritarianism. It is antithetical to democratic ideals and must be stamped out cold at the ballot box.

Arizona’s diversity is a powerful attribute of our state. We are blessed with every sort of diversity imaginable – geological, biodiversity, geographical, cultural, racial, economical, and social lifestyle diversity. What beauty and dynamism Arizona possesses! Our elected state leaders need to respect this diversity, always looking for opportunity to appreciate these differences, and avoid repeating past mistakes that alienate, discriminate, and discourage visitors, hard working families, talented entrepreneurs, and potential investors from coming to Arizona. Strengthening our democracy and celebrating our diversity are two indispensable cornerstones for moving our great state forward.

CONCLUSION

I think you will agree that our Ten Point Plan to Move Arizona Forward is quite straight forward – no rocket science here. These ten progressive components/ideas may not sound razzle-dazzle, and certainly did not originate with me – but, altogether provide a strategic framework, a bold agenda, that will create the kind of communities all of us can agree are highly desirable.

Often, the best ideas sound familiar and sit squarely in front of us. Lack of leadership and political will impedes progress. The corrupting influence of Corporate Special Interests interferes or stops the implementation of Progressive policies, and actually works against the best interest of the vast majority of Arizonans and U.S. citizens. These big obstacles can only be overcome by grassroots political power at the ballot box.

Reforms to end the legal ‘money laundering schemes’ practiced by politicians, and to end the corporate special interest choke-hold on ‘good government’ must be enacted. We need a “Teddy Roosevelt style” of action to take down, once and for all, this corrupting dark stain on our democracy.

We need reformers running the show in our Arizona Legislature and the halls of Congress – Reformers with a bold, progressive agenda that serve the interest of real people, and who possess the courage and stamina to make JUSTICE the driving force that will move Arizona Forward.

ALWAYS, FORWARD!