Special to the Arizona Daily Star
This is not a rhetorical question. Many of our local candidates: Martha McSally (R), US LD 2, Chris Nanos (D), Pima County Sheriff, Barbara LaWall (D), Pima County Attorney, Ally Miller (R), Pima County Board of Supervisors District 1, Ana Henderson (R), AZ LD 9, and others are skipping candidate forums, debates and accountability sessions. Doesn’t being a candidate for public service require presenting yourself to the public?
In the 2014 General Election Southern Arizona had the lowest voting turnout in the state – now below 50%. Young Arizonans age 18-28 only voted at 18%! State Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas, among other statewide candidates, never came to a candidate session in Tucson and only went to one in Phoenix. And yet she won! Are voting turnout and candidate reticence/stonewalling connected?
What about Independent Expenditure committees and Dark Money? Some of it is used for attack ads on candidates and some of it is simply used to discourage people from voting. At our recent candidate accountability session at Amphitheater High School attended by over 500 local residents, Rev. Jim Wiltbank said that the antidote to voter apathy and Dark Money is ‘us’. When we opt out and don’t participate – candidates and voters alike – we destroy the proper functioning of a democracy and renege on our civic responsibility.
Tim Stellar’s recent column, “Candidates Increasingly View Debates as Optional” (Oct.5 AZStar) discusses recent candidate ‘no shows’ and states that “the exchange that happens there keeps our system vital.” As a country and a democracy, we encourage everyone to participate in the electoral process. It is still the envy of the world and what we say our soldiers defend when we send them to fight overseas.
Our six organizations that sponsored the Oct. 2nd “Education and Economic Success for All” Accountability Session promote a non-partisan message:
- learn about the candidates,
- don’t vote for those that you don’t know (or don’t show),
- encourage your families and friends to vote, and
- don’t let negative advertising and dirty politics make you apathetic.
If this message resonates with you, join us on Saturday, Oct. 15th from 9-11:30 am when we do a non-partisan get-out-the-vote walk in the Amphi HS neighborhood. We will leave from Literacy Connects, 200 E. Yavapai (map), just a block East of Amphi High off N. Stone Avenue.
Two years ago, US Rep. Martha McSally, CD 2, won by 167 votes and AZ Rep. Randy Friese, LD 9, won by 145 votes and just last month, Phoenix-area Congressional Candidate Andy Biggs won his primary by 22 votes. Your vote makes a difference!
Vote your conscience but by all means vote to keep democracy alive and healthy.