Arizona deserves better than leaders who won’t deliver in a crisis

Gov. Doug Ducey bumps elbows with U.S. Sen. Martha McSally while greeting President Donald Trump at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport during a visit to Honeywell International’s mask-making operation in Phoenix May 5, 2020. Photo by Michael Chow/The Arizona Republic | Pool photo

We love Arizona. Even the heat and the traffic—all of it. It is our home. Our people and our families are here, and we have built political power in our community for more than a decade. 

That’s why it’s tearing us apart watching our state become the number one hotspot for COVID-19 cases in the world, with Black, indigenous, Latinx and low-income communities hit the hardest by this deadly virus. 

Now, nearly six months into the pandemic, with government rental assistance programs failing, and the end to the federal unemployment stimulus slated for July 25, we are outraged to see our state and federal government flounder aimlessly from one hashtag to another without a clear plan to take care of our people. 

Arizona desperately needs leadership, decisive action and to listen to the voices of the community who are living this nightmare every single day. When COVID-19 started to become real in the United States and the majority party in the Arizona Legislature spent sickening amounts of time trying to downplay the virus and even calling it a hoax, we stepped up and called for a comprehensive “People’s Bailout” that would have addressed many of the housing, unemployment, and healthcare disasters we are seeing play out in real time in our neighborhoods. 

When Democratic lawmakers forced votes on many of these issues in March, including $40 million for rental assistance, $10 million for food banks, and providing paid family and medical leave to those affected by COVID-19, we watched with dismay as each was shot down on party lines. 

And in the U.S. Senate, the leadership vacuum is just as large. As the COVID-19 crisis only gets worse by the day, we have watched Sen. Martha McSally let President Donald Trump do the talking instead of stepping up with a clear plan to help her constituents. 

With the Legislature adjourned for the year and no special session forthcoming, Gov. Doug Ducey is left as the chief policy maker in Arizona. As we write this, the governor is sitting on tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money that the Legislature appropriated in March. Right now, he has the power to appropriate more money for rental assistance and a boost to unemployment payments. Time and time again, he has shown his disconnect from reality, with his interest in pleasing Trump and providing political cover to McSally greater than taking care of Arizona. 

When we extended an invitation in April for Ducey to hear directly from our members most impacted by COVID, we received no response. No wonder his approval numbers for his handling of the pandemic are the lowest of any governor in the nation. 

Arizona has a cascade of crises careening towards us, and Ducey is more interested in pretty words than real action on behalf of our families, while McSally is content to sit on the sidelines and watch Arizonans fall ill, face eviction and job loss. Thousands of Arizona families are unable to pay basic bills like rent, food and utilities. She has failed to lead and allowed the HEROES Act, which would provide desperately needed relief and economic stimulus, to sit on a shelf collecting dust for more than 2 months. 

This is our leadership, Arizona? 

It didn’t have to be this way in the state we love and have fought so hard for time and time again. The time to act aggressively, substantively and with the urgency that meets the issues at hand is now. LUCHA stands ready to work in a real, concrete way on policy that centers those most impacted and meets the moment. Until then, it has become all too clear that the governor’s press conferences and McSally’s Twitter account will continue to be all talk and no action on behalf of the people they are supposed to serve. 

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Alejandra Gomez
Alejandra Gomez

Alejandra Gomez is the co-executive director of LUCHA. She has dedicated her life to a commitment to social justice and community empowerment through grassroots mobilization. She was the field manager for the Adios Arpaio campaign that registered Latinos to vote during her time with the New Organizing Institute. She also worked for Organizing for America in Arizona, and, rooted in her family’s immigration struggle, led the organizing efforts in the fight for DAPA and expanded DACA at United We Dream National Network as the deputy organizing director. Alejandra lives in Phoenix and holds a B.A. in Political Science from Arizona State University.

Tomás Robles, Jr.
Tomás Robles, Jr.

Tomás Robles, Jr. serves as co-executive director of LUCHA. He became involved in grassroots organizing and activism after Senate Bill 1070 was signed into law. In 2010, Tomás became a community organizer helping to promote civic engagement and comprehensive immigration reform. Since then, he has been a key leader in coalitions and a thought leader in changing Arizona’s political landscape and moving forward issues affecting working families. In 2016, he led Prop. 206, the campaign in Arizona to raise the minimum wage. The son of Mexican immigrants, he was born in Tucson and raised in Phoenix. Tomás is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and is a graduate of Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Transborder studies.