PCI Advances Agenda of Issues with Arizona State Legislator

Following up on a commitment leveraged in a nonpartisan accountability assembly last fall, Pima County Interfaith leaders met with Rep. Kirsten Engel to advance the PCI agenda of issues.  Leaders engaged with the legislator around concerns related to education, food security, the environment and health -- and potential opportunities in the upcoming legislative session to advance these concerns.

Rep. Kirsten Engel had attended the Pima County Interfaith Accountability Session in September, along with other candidates, and publicly committed to collaborating with leaders, if elected.  

Candidates State Case for Election inside packed Pima County ForumKOLD News 13

Voter Turnout In Pima Up 28%!

The PCI Elections Count! team met this week to review its work and the election results. Here are a few observations and voting results from the races we featured at our accountability session.
  1. Voter turnout in Pima County improved dramatically from 39% in 2014 to 67% this year. Certainly the close races and #redfored enthusiasm played a significant role, but PCI certainly did our part!
  2. Chasing thousands of non-partisan PEVL’s (calling to encourage voters on the Permanent Early Voting Lists) in low-voter precincts near PCI congregations may have had a positive impact (we are still waiting for the final precinct numbers)
  3. Encouraging Citizenship Sabbaths in PCI and ally congregations helped with turnout (bulletin and pulpit announcements, email blasts and non-partisan issue sheets) since these reached close to 40,000 residents. 
  4. Using Commitment-to-Vote cards in congregations and at the 700+ accountability session at St. Pius X encouraged voting and recruited more volunteers.
  5. People seemed to like making PEVL calls and those called seemed to appreciate non-partisan encouragement to vote.

Races & Bonds that were featured at the PCIC Accountability Session:

CD2: Ann Kirkpatrick - 152,514 (54%)  
Leah Marquez Peterson - 127,796 (46%)
LD10 House: K. Engel - 46,608 / D. DeGrazia - 40,490      
Todd Clodfelter, 36,726 
LD2 House: R. Gabaldon: 29,009 / D. Hernandez: 28,999       
L-C.Ackerley 21,130 / A.Sizer: 20,744
City Parks & Rec. Bond 407: YES - 83,426 (56%) 
NO - 66,404 (44%)  PASSED - Yeah!
County Road Bond 463
NO - 194,381 (56%) 
YES - 151,841 (44%)  FAILED. Folks should stop complaining about our roads if they are not willing to pay the taxes necessary to fix them.
And here’s an interesting question:
Did Sinema win due to Pima?  The margin of victory for Kyrsten Sinema in Pima Co. was 54,270 votes while she only won Maricopa Co. by 48,813 votes. Thus, the argument could be made that if she hadn’t won “big” in McSally’s backyard, Sinema might have lost the race!

700 PCIC Leaders Engage Federal, State Candidates and GOTV

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.  

Candidates State Case for Election Inside Packed Pima County Forum, Tucson News [pdf]

'Accountability Session' Sunday a Chance to Evaluate CandidatesArizona Daily Star  

Pima County Interfaith Educates Immigrants on Proposed Changes to 'Public Charge' Rule

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."

#INVESTinED will be on the ballot in the fall as PROP 207!

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.

PCI Education Civic Academy Educates and Agitates Leaders

Over 60 parishioners of St. Philip's in the Hills Episcopal Church attended a Pima County Interfaith Education Civic Academy in which Rev. Leah Sandwell-Weiss and Jane Prescott-Smith delivered background talks on education funding and teachers Shasha Velgos and Katie Fouts, long-time members of the church, shared stories about their schools: Catalina High School and Borton Elementary.

Small group discussions yielded a variety of stories and passionate concern for children and schools. Participants were invited to sign the #Investined petition and start a voting cascade at the close of the meeting.

Pima County Interfaith Celebrates New Park Opening

On school days, the children from St. John's School plan to use the park. After school, Pueblo High School and neighborhood skaters are expected to take over. In the evening, seniors and everyone else hope to walk and play in its environs. Lights won't go out until 10:00pm, when a neighbor will lock the gate and new bathrooms.

Leaders of Pima County Interfaith celebrated the opening of St. John's Park with a ribbon cutting ceremony that recognized the outcome of a unique collaboration between the city, county, and church. The land is leased by St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church to the City. Bond funds generated by the County's Neighborhood Reinvestment Bond paid for most of the development. Conversations to get and keep the ball rolling were catalyzed by Pima County Interfaith, Southern Arizona Interfaith and persistent leaders from St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church.

Southern Arizona Interfaith Recognizes Police in SPICE Effort

After passing state legislation that would outlaw health-harming SPICE from neighborhood stores, leaders organized a celebratory mass recognizing the contribution of Tucson Police Department officers who went "over and beyond" in the effort to take the drug off the streets.

Awards were presented to Officers Mendoza, Sanchez, Hernandez, Lead Police Officer Gonzales and Sgt. Simmers. Mayor Rothschild was in attendance for the ceremony, as were other captains and Lieutenants.

Jennie Ahumada and Eliseo Melendrez spoke of the collaboration between St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, Tucson Police Department, Southern Arizona Interfaith and the Pima County Health Department that helped educate the community about SPICE and prevent its sale. Msgr. Trevizo led the congregation in blessing the officers.

PCI Secures Council Pledges to Double JobPath Funding

125 Pima County Interfaith resident leaders of Ward 3 Tucson assembled and secured commitments from primary candidates Felicia Chew, Paul Durham and Tom Tronsdal. The session was organized by Pima County Interfaith Civic Education Organization, Southern Arizona Interfaith (SAI) and Literacy Connects. All three candidates pledged to support keeping Tucson an Immigrant Welcoming city, to support PCI efforts to fight SPICE and other drugs in Ward 3, and to meet with the organizations if elected.

Candidates Chew and Tronsdal committed to increasing funding for KidCo and JobPath, keeping low-income bus fares at their current level, and protecting the number of bus routes.

Attendees committed to vote, get others to vote, and to knock on doors in Ward 3 neighborhoods. Two "Neighbor to Neighbor - Walk & Call" sessions have already been scheduled.

Ward 3 Candidate Paul Durham Doesn't Promise to Fund Programs for Kids, Job Skills, Tucson.com

Southern Arizona Religious Leaders Sign Joint Statement Opposing Discrimination

More than 60 Southern Arizona religious leaders gathered on short notice to sign a joint statement expressing opposition to presidential executive orders banning the admission of select refugees and calling for the construction of a border wall.

Initially convened by Catholic Bishop Gerald Kicanas, with support from Southern Arizona Interfaith and Pima County Interfaith Civic Education Organization, clergy from Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Sikh backgrounds participated in the preparation of the joint statement. 105 religious leaders from 57 congregations ultimately signed on.

SAI and PCIC leaders are working to organize meetings with Arizona senators and Congressional Representatives.

Original Statement

Southern Arizona Religious Leaders Vow to Support Migrants, Refugees, Arizona Daily Star