Friday, March 27, 2009

‘See Arizona Before It Closes’ by Mark R. Kerr

A car in the parking lot, where the town hall meeting with the Legislative District 29 legislators took place, had a bumper sticker on it, saying “See Arizona Before It Closes.” This turned out to be an individual with a support group for Arizona’s parks, who was in attendance to urge that the state park’s system not close due to the current economic crisis and the Republican-controlled Arizona’s Legislature making draconian cuts to the state budget, including for the parks.

This individual, as well as others, gathered Saturday, March 21, to ask the legislators: Democratic state Representatives Matt Heinz, Daniel Patterson and Democratic state Senator Linda Lopez about the potential budget cuts the Legislature had made or were considering and what could be done about them. All three strongly urged those to call their fellow legislators, toll-free at (800) 352-8404 and the Governor, toll-free at (800) 253-0883 to let them know that they should consider all financial options available and not just, blithely, cutting the budget for the programs without taking in the full consideration of the fallout from the cut backs to Arizonans.

As people have expressed, to their federal legislators, their opinions and “outrage” in regard to the “bonuses” Wall Street firms that accepted federal bailout funds, were giving to those “employees” who caused the nation’s financial downtown, so they should do so at the state level because communication was paramount then in Washington, D.C., and needed in Phoenix, since the Republicans - “accidental” Governor Jan Brewer and the “leadership” in each chamber of Arizona’s Legislature aren’t talking to each other or listening, with the prime examples of the approval of the cuts in the current fiscal year’s budget jeopardizing the state’s federal stimulus funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and the secret negotiations by the Republican Legislative leadership on next year’s budget for state government, breaking their pledge of openness and transparency they made when the session began in January.

That message can also be conveyed through avenues, especially for Arizona’s LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community, by getting involved in the political process this year as well.

Arizona’s LGBT Democratic Party Caucus is moving forward with plans to ensure the election of LGBT-friendly Democrats and to ensure those issues of concern to the LGBT community are at the forefront. Phoenix’s Pride event, to be held April 18-19, is the first event and the Caucus, as well as the Southern Arizona Stonewall Democrats will be taking part in the parade and need help. To assist, call Maurice Grossman in Tucson, (520) 323-2293, E-mail: or C.J. Carenza in Phoenix, (602) 573-7782, E-mail: to sign up. This effort to “Change Arizona Next” though cannot succeed solely through volunteerism, so to contribute to this, there are two options, online at: or by postal mail, made payable to the Arizona Democratic Party LGBT Caucus and sent to PO Box 1333, Bisbee, Arizona 85603.

For voters, including LGBT, in the Town of Sahuarita, on Thursday, April 16, ballots for the town council runoff election will be mailed out, for which residents have until May 19 to send in, voting for a strong, progressive candidate Rosanna Gabaldon.

In Tucson, specifically Ward 5, there is a committed, LGBT supportive, Democratic candidate for the City Council seat being vacated by the retiring Councilmember, Steve Leal, who has been the strongest voice for LGBT rights for the past two decades on that governmental body. That person’s name is Richard Fimbres, the current Director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, Governing Board Member of Pima Community College and a national officer for the League of United Latin American Citizens, to name three of the numerous accomplishments of Richard’s long, meritorious record of community service.

Richard Fimbres has been endorsed by Steve Leal, who is serving as a co-chair of his campaign. Leal said of Fimbres, “that many people have said they want the position but Richard is the only one who wants the job.” To take part in Richard’s campaign and to ensure another strong, LGBT-supportive and friendly voice on Tucson’s City Council, E-mail the campaign at, with your name and address. For more information about Richard, go to his campaign blog, online at

Lastly but still very important, are Arizona’s Legislative elections, which will take place in 2010 but with the potential of open seats due to term limits, campaigns have begun in earnest, this year, for those posts. One of which is in Legislative District 28, comprising central Tucson, which LGBT voters will have a wonderful choice in next year’s Democratic state House primary election in Ted Prezeslki, a longtime supporter of LGBT issues for the past two decades, as a political activist, public servant, writer and blogger. Prezelski has filed the paperwork to run in District 28 and set up his campaign committee.

Prezelski intends on utilizing the Arizona Clean Elections Campaign, which allows people during this time who don't live in Legislative District 28, to contribute to his bid, through the initial committee, to raise seed money for the beginning expenditures, letters, envelopes, petitions, etc. People can give up to $130 for this. If so inclined, make checks payable to "Prezelski for Arizona 2010," and mail them to 1601 North Camilla Boulevard, Tucson, Arizona 85716.

Arizona’s financial downtown, as well as the economic crisis the country is facing requires action by all people, regardless of sex, race, sexual orientation or gender identity, perceived or otherwise since one’s wallet doesn’t take those into consideration, only the “amount of funds” it has, had or doesn’t.

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