State Representative Aaron Lieberman (D-LD28) declared his intention to work across the aisle on issues of education, climate change, and voting rights if elected as Governor of Arizona. He spoke at the October 18, 2021, meeting of Democrats of Greater Tucson.
“I’m running for governor fundamentally because I think our politics are broken and that our leaders have not been stepping up to the challenge,” he opened, going on to explain how the current political and socio-economic landscape has influenced him. “For me, when we should have been coming together, it often feels like we’re pulling apart from each other. It feels like this incredible opportunity to galvanize action for the good of everybody has really been lost. In its place has been more of the same of what we’ve seen in terms of divisive politicians trying to get ahead for their own partisan advantage, not working for the good of the state.”
Despite that, he expressed his continued belief in the strength of our state and its ability to rise up to the challenges it faces. “The real history of Arizona is politicians coming together to forge this great state, and we should never forget that we built this state, out of a dry desert wash bed against long odds, not by belittling and attacking each other, but by coming together to do great things,” he said.
One key idea he hammered home was the need to act with the future in mind. “I’ve been in the legislature,” he explained. “They’re not thinking for months into the future about most of the stuff that gets passed right now, much less for generations out in the future. So that’s the type of collaboration and long-term planning and vision that we need to get back.”
“We can have it all in Arizona. We can have great schools and a great economy. We can have clean energy and booming clean energy businesses. Time and time, we’ve been told there has to be a tradeoff, that we have to tradeoff growth for caring. I know we don’t have to do that. We can have a soul as a state, but to do this, we have to stop slashing state revenues and start investing in the things that will make Arizona broadly more successful.”
“I have a very simple platform,” Lieberman said of his plans for education. “I want universal pre-K for every four-year-old. I want to move our teacher pay to 25th in the country. Right now, we’re 48th.” He went on to add, “We need a community college promise scholarship to help every kid in Arizona who gets a B average in high school to and through community college.”
“The real opportunity if we were to have a democratic legislature would be to make progress on the things that we care about, to really continue to use every last dollar being generated by this surplus to make sure that we are fighting for more money for our schools, more money for low-income kids,” he said. “People don’t talk about this that much, but Arizona is second only to Mississippi in having the highest number of K-12 students living in poverty.”
When questioned about his beliefs on climate change, Lieberman answered head-on: “I believe we are living in a climate emergency,” he stated. “The impact is growing, and we need to start dealing with the underlying causes…climate change is real, and we need to roll up our sleeves and do something about it.”
He went on to elaborate on how he would seek to address these threats as Governor. “I think a lot about 2030. What do I want, where do I want the state of Arizona to be by 2030, which would mean the end of my eight-year term as Governor. I think we could be well on our way to having 100% renewable power,” he claimed. “And in terms of cars and electrical generation, it’s also a huge opportunity. We can be the electric car capital of the country. Still, we need to invest in infrastructure like charging stations and simple common sense things that will help lead to the electrification of our passenger cars and our trucks, and our transportation system. And suppose we do those two things well. In that case, we can dramatically reduce the carbon that we’re putting into the air and start to actually live out what I think should be a base commitment for every Arizonan: that we will give this beautiful state to our kids, in at least as good a shape as we found it. Of course, we can’t do any of that if we’re not willing to admit that we have a problem, and we need to start dealing with it.”
“This is not a Democrat issue. It doesn’t have to be a partisan issue. It’s been progress that has been held up by a small group of extreme politicians who essentially are denying what everyone else knows is true – that climate change is man-made, but also reversible if we’re willing to get together to work.”
Answering a question about what he would do to protect voter’s rights, he said, “I really believe strongly we need to fight for our voting rights. I have a very simple premise: elections should be about the party with the best ideas getting the most votes from other people, and that the citizens should elect leaders, not the other way around, where the leadership chooses who’s going to get to vote,” he explained. “And I want to be super clear, and I think this is one of the reasons it’s so important that we get a Democrat elected Governor: when I’m Governor, I will veto any single bill that restricts the ability of Arizona citizens to vote. Period. Full stop.”
Lieberman closed out by encouraging anyone interested to get involved with the campaign, reiterating the importance of this election. “This is a statewide race, and I’m looking for leaders in Tucson who want to step up and get involved,” he said. “If you like what you heard today, please sign up with the campaign and click that you’d love to volunteer.”
“The stakes are much too high this time around. So we have to make sure we’re focused on keeping our eyes on the prize: how do we get the Democrat who can win the ninth floor?” he warned.
“It’s going to be absolutely critical that the next Governor is a governor who is fighting for all of Arizona…that’s what I’ve done my entire career. That’s what I’ve done in the legislature, and that’s what I’ll do as the 24th governor of the state of Arizona, but I can’t do it without the support of people like you who are willing to roll up your sleeves.”