700 PCIC leaders packed the parish hall of St. Pius X Catholic Church to secure commitments from candidates for federal, state and local office around an agenda that included immigration and food security at the federal level, and workforce development, education and healthcare at the state and local level.
Candidates that attended included Congressional Representative Ann Kirkpatrick (CD 2), Pima County Board of Supervisors’ Chair Richard Elias, and Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild. Religious leaders in attendance included Catholic Monsignors Raul Trevizo and Tom Cahalane, Episcopal Rector Robert Hendrickson (St. Philip’s), Rabbi Tom Louchheim (Or Chadash), Lutheran Dean & JobPath Board Chair Steve Springer (Dove of Peace), and Methodist Pastor Sharon Ragland (St. Mark’s). Bruce Dusenberry, former Chamber of Commerce Chair and Board of JobPath, Flowing Wells School Superintendent David Baker, and Community Food Bank President Michael McDonald also participated.
Hundreds of PCIC leaders helped Get Out The Vote through election day, resulting in a 70.5% voter turnout rate in Pima County -- the highest in recent history.
Candidates who committed to the agenda won their elections, including one State House seat and one US Congressional seat (CD-2). The City Parks & Recreation Bond also passed.
'Accountability Session' Sunday a Chance to Evaluate Candidates, Arizona Daily Star
Forty members from St. John the Evangelist Church and the neighborhood attended a civic academy yesterday to learn about “public charge.” This new policy by the Trump Administration’s Department of Homeland Security would affect many legal immigrants who are applying for permanent residency (green cards) and penalize applicants if they or their families have received government support such as SNAP (food stamps), subsidized health care, and other support that the government has labeled a “public charge.”
As rumors of this new policy surfaced, immigrant churches and Pima County Interfaith started conducting research. The fear began a few months ago when the press began to talk again about this policy. Rumors and misinformation led many immigrants to renounce their citizen children’s benefits out of fear. Among those immigrants most affected by this proposal are low-income families, single mothers, and children with chronic illnesses.
At Sunday’s session, a single mother asked if she could lose her permanent residency if she continued to receive AHCCCS, Arizona’s version of Medicaid, for her infant baby. Fortunately, she received her visa through the VAWA program that so far is exempt from being a 'public charge.'
After the session, some attendees thanked the St. John team for making this presentation. They said they felt more relaxed now that they knew which programs would be counted as 'public charge.'
A young mother said, "I'm going to register for citizenship classes and I'm going to apply to become a citizen. I'm afraid this administration will find another way to revoke my residency and separate me from my family."
Tim Walrath and Ana Patricia Chavarin from Pima County and Southern Arizona Interfaith were among the statewide education supporters who delivered a whopping 270,000 petition signatures on July 5th in Phoenix. This shows the power of this grassroots movement of faith, education, and other advocates to work on behalf of children and families.
Arizona voters will now have the chance in November to restore $690 million in funding for our schools, allowing us to attract and retain the best teachers and provide our children with the high-quality education they deserve.
View/download InvestInEd White Paper HERE.
After a campaign that included educating County Supervisors about the economic (and life) impact of JobPath workforce development program, leaders of Pima County Interfaith won a 18% increase in funding for the program, from $423 thousand to $500 thousand. Pima County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 for the increase after Pastor Steve Springer of Dove of Peace Lutheran Church and Lindsay Leonard, a JobPath graduate, spoke.
Former students like Patty Popp credit JobPath for helping them bridge the gap between minimum wage work and a living wage career. After training for an associate's degree in radiologic technology, she kept on advancing to her current position as Director of Clinical Operations at Radiology Limited. Her story can be read in the first article below.
Southern Arizona Training Program Lifts Students Out of Minimum Wage, Arizona Daily Star
Long Term Impacts of JobPath Graduates on Pima County, Applied Economics
In the second of three steps to secure funding for workforce development and affordable housing, PCIC leaders testified before Pima County Supervisors, persuading them to support (4-1) an expanded bond package which includes a building for workforce development program JobPath ($1M), affordable housing ($20M), neighborhood reinvestment ($25M) and open space / environment ($80M).
Randy Mayer, the pastor of Good Shepherd UCC, argued that this bond was an opportunity to leave the County in better shape than they found it. He also pledged the support of PCIC and Southern Arizona Interfaith to help pass the propositions this November -- the final step towards victory.
"About 20 years ago, hoping to encourage citizens to become active in the community, members of the religious institutions of the Pima County Interfaith Council (PCIC), spent a Sunday afternoon knocking on 10,000 doors, asking residents for their specific concerns..."
PCIC leaders heard the stories of families, researched ways to address the need for good-paying jobs and created JobPath to provide financially-assisted education, hands-on guidance during the academic career and assistance with job placement upon graduation.
Fast forward to the present and Jobpath now "takes students making $7,000 without benefits and catapults them into $40,000-a-year positions with full benefits." JobPath is one of 10 West / Southwest IAF labor market intermediaries transforming local labor markets and improving peoples' lives.
"Existing programs that save Tucson Electric Power customers money on their energy bills will be cut significantly. That's the bottom line reached at the end of the March 16 Arizona Corporation Commission public hearing....
The story: TEP must meet the Arizona Energy Efficiency Standards unanimously adopted by the ACC and overwhelmingly supported by small businesses, organizational leaders and citizens throughout Arizona."
ACC Should Stop Stalling and Approve TEP Energy-Efficiency Plan, Arizona Daily Star