Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Ramon and Sharon: By Mark R. Kerr

As previously reported in this column, Thursday, July 31, registered Arizona voters will be able to cast their votes for their party’s standard bearers or who will run for a position for various political offices, ranging from school districts and county posts up through the U.S. Congress.

Early voting, absentee or vote at home, whichever term used to describe the Arizona law, begins next Thursday for the primary election which will be held, with polling places opening at 6:00 a.m. and closing at 7:00 p.m., Tuesday, September 2.

For many political campaigns, early voting will provide the critical number of votes needed to ensure victory in the September primary election and during this campaign, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) and HIV/AIDS communities must vote for those elected officials and candidates who have backed us, through their words and actions.

Two contested primary elections of note deal with the five member Pima County Board of Supervisors for District’s Two and Three. Both of the current office holders, District 2 Supervisor Ramon Valadez and District 3 Supervisor Sharon Bronson are being challenged in the September 2 primary over their votes in regards to whether the County should turn over the election database from the 2006 RTA and prior elections to the Pima County Democratic Party.

Through their votes, as well as those from Supervisor’s Richard Elias (District 5) and Ann Day (District 1), the initial proposal failed, resulting in a subsequent court challenge and a judge ruling, this issue has been dealt within a manner which will now lead to the effort to ensure that the votes are being counted. When asked about their vote, they all cited information given to them from the County Administrator, Chuck Huckleberry, County staff and their Information Technology department, as reason for their initial vote for which they have had a “change of heart and mind” on the issue and subsequent responses, votes and directives have shown this to be the case.

This reporter and registered voter didn’t agree with the Board of Supervisor’s initial vote on the issue but when can someone support every action taken by an elected official on issues? Disappointments have been the case on all levels of government but this isn’t a case for change during this election year since both individuals have been there when the LGBT and HIV/AIDS communities needed support.

It was Sharon Bronson who was the key third vote in 1997, when the Pima County Board of Supervisors became the first governmental entity in Arizona to formally recognize committed same-sex relationships by extending medical and dental benefits to the domestic partners (and families) of county employees. Bronson voted to fight the legal challenge to this vote for which was upheld in 1998.

Ramon Valadez has been a strong friend to the LGBT and HIV/AIDS communities since his initial election to the Arizona House of Representatives and Arizona Senate.

From sponsoring pro-LGBT rights bills, such as using medically accurate information to teach about HIV/AIDS in Arizona’s schools and expanding Arizona’s hate crimes law to cover misdemeanor offenses to name just two of the many bills introduced; helping to pass legislation striking down the state’s “archaic laws” dealing with sodomy and cohabitation; helping to defeat legislation to prevent governmental entities, such as the Pima County Board of Supervisors, from extending medical and dental benefits to the same-sex domestic partners of county employees (and their subsequent families) and singlehandedly saving a measure prohibiting discrimination in employment because of sexual orientation, perceived or otherwise, Ramon Valadez has been there for the LGBT and HIV/AIDS communities.

Both Sharon and Ramon continue to ensure that Pima County’s AIDS Service Organizations and groups receive funding, as well as organizations that serve the LGBT community. They, as well as Supervisor Richard Elias publicly opposed Proposition 107 in 2006 when very few elected officials would step forward on the ballot measure during that campaign.

LGBT residents of Pima County have done well with Richard Elias, Sharon Bronson and Ramon Valadez serving on the Board of Supervisors and the community from Thursday, July 31 through Tuesday, September 2 must step up and vote for Sharon and Ramon and return the favor and thank them for their support.

Donations can be made payable to: Valadez for County Supervisor Campaign Committee, and sent to: Valadez for County Supervisor Campaign Committee, 2829 East Paseo La Tierra Buena, Tucson, AZ 85706.

To contribute to Sharon Bronson’s campaign, go online to

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