The 2020 election is heating up in Arizona with plenty of candidates vying for office. While there is a huge emphasis on the presidential election, voters will also decide the outcome of local elections and determine who will fill state representative and senate seats.
Patch asked candidates to answer questions about their campaigns and will be publishing candidate profiles as election day draws near.
Judy Schwiebert, a Phoenix resident, is running for State House District 20.
Party affiliation: Democratic Party
Family: Sons Ehren Schwiebert and Andy Schwiebert; Daughters-in-law Caroline Timm Schwiebert and Allison Mark; Grandchildren Luke, Mayah, Arden, Kaira and Amara; Mother Diane Froese
Occupation: Teacher for 27 years, now retired
Previous elected experience: None
Family members in government: No
Campaign website: https://www.judyforaz.com
The single most pressing issue facing our state is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.
There are many pressing issues facing our state. One is the severe teacher shortage crisis. I will make sure our state is investing in public schools in an equitable way so we can repair crumbling buildings and outdated resources, raise teacher salaries, and attract our best and brightest young people to teaching and then provide them with the support they need to stay in the field. A well-qualified teacher is the most basic component to making sure that every student receives a quality education, wherever they go to school.
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?
I have spent my life in this community and have been listening to my neighbors and share their priorities. We want everyone to get a great education, quality, affordable healthcare that protects people with pre-existing conditions, and a strong economy with good-paying jobs. I never imagined I would run for office, but my opponents aren't listening to us. The district is changing and the leadership is not. Instead our current leaders have prioritized special interest tax cuts over restoring funding to our schools, voted to let insurance companies sell "junk insurance" plans that charge more to people with pre-existing conditions, and voted against economic relief for local businesses and families hurting during the pandemic, which in turn, hurts all of us economically. Unlike my opponent who could never find time to meet with me as his constituent, I will welcome the opportunity to listen to the people of my district.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?
I am a co-founder of Theater Works, the West Valley's premier community theater and served on the board there for most of its first ten years. I also served for four years on the board of a church with a multi-million dollar annual budget. Most recently, I co-founded a group to advocate for better healthcare, education, and other issues that grew to over 1,000 members in under two years. During my career in education, I was a leader who taught other teachers as well as students how to effectively use emerging technology, made presentations at national education conferences, and received the district-wide Pride of Peoria award after being nominated by dozens of my colleagues.
What steps should state government take to bolster economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic for local businesses?
The state of Arizona has received billions of dollars in CARES Act funding. We should speed up the delivery of financial aid and rental assistance for tenants, and as a result, landlords and owners as well. So far, the COVID-19 rental assistance program has only spent a little over $3 million of its original $5 million allocation for rent assistance. Also, because our ability to reopen our economy safely depends on rapid testing results and rigorous contact tracing, we should also require counties to appropriately provide for contact tracing and demand accountability as well as transparency. Finally, we should also create a grant program focused on small businesses to reimburse them for up to $10,000 for significant costs caused by the closure of our economy or costs of PPE or needed modifications to their business. I also support the creation of a bipartisan advisory committee made up of members of the State House and Senate to work together to develop sound policies that will allow every business owner and family to have their chance to thrive.
How will you address the calls for racial justice and police reform?
Forward progress begins with listening, but must also lead to concrete action. I will bring together stakeholders because our top priority must be to ensure that everyone in our community is safe, whatever their uniform, skin color, or background. I support calls for civilian review boards, body cams, ongoing de-escalation training, and other means of ensuring everyone's safety. However, I also know our police, like our teachers, too often have to face all the ills of society that go beyond the original intent of their work. To truly make our communities safe, we must invest in some things that have long been neglected like mental health services, good schools, affordable housing, transportation and other public services.
List other issues that define your campaign platform:
Climate change: This long hot summer has been yet another urgent reminder that climate change is one of the greatest threats to Arizonans' way of life. We must pay attention to what science is telling us and commit to significantly reducing the pollution that causes unnaturally rapidly changing climates. To do that, we need to come together to create smart policies that lead to ever-increasing clean and renewable energy generation with a range of economic and social benefits.
Water: We must also listen to experts and develop a long-term plan to ensure that Arizona has a secure water supply.
Economic Recovery: Arizona’s Unemployment Insurance program is wholly inadequate. It’s almost the worst in the nation, and far below neighboring states. Recent months have shown us more clearly than ever that it’s everyday people who are the job creators. When we have money in our pockets to spend, we fuel our economy, support businesses and create jobs. Ensuring that Arizonans can make it through these difficult times is a wise investment in people that will pay dividends for all of us.
What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
I grew up in Phoenix at a time when my dad could support our family of five as a shop teacher at Carl Hayden High School. When I became a teacher at Greenway and then Cactus High Schools, I could continue to do the work I loved and still get by, even after becoming a single mom. More recently, though, I volunteered with a master 2nd grade teacher who had to work four jobs to make ends meet. Like so many other great teachers in Arizona, she finally left for a much better-paying teaching job in another state. As a mom, grandmother and teacher, it breaks my heart that children in over 1800 classrooms last year had no permanent, qualified teacher. I thought someone should do something about that, and so here I am. My parents taught us the value of education, persistence, and respect for other people. Now, as our representative in the State House, I will bring those same principles and my conviction that we all do better when we listen and work together so that everyone gets their chance to thrive.