State Senator Kirsten Engel outlined her four priorities for US Congress at the May 31, 2021 meeting of Democrats of Greater Tucson.
“What do I see as my priorities? What am I going to work on in Congress? I would say there are four top priorities.
“My top priority is building an economy that works for everyone through investments in hard and social infrastructure. And I think that this will enable us to expand our economy, safeguard our natural resources, fight climate change, and put people to work. And I would say that that investment in hard infrastructure is important. Still, just as important is how we do that in an environmentally sustainable manner, but also those social infrastructure supports.
“So what do I mean by hard and social infrastructure? Some of the top priorities in hard infrastructure are things that you hear about all the time, roads and bridges, and digital broadband. One of the things that we have found as a result of COVID is how difficult it has been for many of our kids and many of our families to participate in our economy because they don’t have broadband service. So that has to be one of the top things.
“We need water infrastructure that will enable us to reuse our water, conserve our water, store our water. We need EV charging stations to make this transition to electric vehicles and other things that we can electrify and rely on the power of the sun rather than fossil fuels.
“We need infrastructure improvements that will reduce wildfire hazards in our state. And this is something very much within the federal government’s authority and one that will save us untold amounts of money, as well as saving lives. We need to do this.
We have to invest in the social infrastructure as well, or else none of these hard infrastructure investments will go anywhere. And by social infrastructure, I’m talking about childcare supports, which will enable mostly parents, families to go back to work, and critically women to go back to work by having those childcare supports and college and career readiness programs.
“I’ve been very proud to champion JTED programs in our high schools. And again, this is something that is showing up in our Republican budget. Believe it or not, finally, four years of funding for the JTED program, something I’ve been pounding on for years, and career and college readiness programs.
“We need to make those workforce developments. And I think we can work with our unions to do that. They’ve been at the front edge of apprenticeship-type programs and making those connections between workforce training and available jobs. So that’s number one.
“Number two, protecting our environment and ensuring that we have a water future here in Arizona, despite the fact we are now in a 21-year drought. We have a spectacular environment. People come from all over the world to enjoy Southern Arizona. We have a $20 billion tourism industry, and much of that is because people are coming to enjoy Arizona’s beautiful outdoors. With our almost year-round sunshine, we really should be the solar capital of the world. Janet Napolitano said it right, we should be the Persian Gulf of solar.
“We also have an opportunity to create jobs. At the same time, we protect our environment, and we battle climate change. So also as part of this, we need to be dealing with our water future. Over the past couple of weeks, it’s been front-page headlines about how we are looking at going into a tier one and tier two shortage on the Colorado River. And this is very, very serious business. And there are many things that we could do to safeguard our water, and we just need to get to it. The federal government very much dominates something like the Colorado River, the Bureau of Reclamation. And that is something where I can see having an important role in terms of helping Southern Arizona. I have been through the drought contingency plan and working on the state legislature’s natural resources, energy, and water committee for all the years I’ve been in the legislature.
“Third, I would say access to affordable quality healthcare. Healthcare is a right. It’s not a privilege. And unfortunately, too many people still don’t have access to affordable healthcare. Too many people are forced to make a trade-off between food and shelter and healthcare. And that just is not right. There are many things that we can do to make healthcare available and affordable.
“Finally, I would put my top priorities, reproductive healthcare. We have seen really extreme positions being pushed at the Arizona legislature. There have really been attacks this past session, and we are creating law here in the state that will end up before the Supreme Court and inevitably will be issues that Congress will need to deal with. We need protections for reproductive healthcare at the federal level. And I see that as very important as we see many states chipping away at this and having some success recently, as they have had in Arizona. I am a proud pro-choice candidate, and I’ll be fighting to protect that choice at the federal level.
“So, in conclusion, this will be one of the most competitive races in the country. It is key to maintaining our Democratic majority in the US House of Representatives in 2022. This district has always been competitive. Just four years ago, was held by a Republican and we know this race is going to be a top priority for the Republicans, again, as they try to take back the House and undo the progress that we have made and impede the plans of President Biden in trying to rebuild our country. We need to ensure that we are well-placed to be successful in November 2022 so that we keep this district blue and continue to fight for the needs of Southern Arizona.
“I would be very proud to carry on the tradition of Gabby Giffords and Ann Kirkpatrick, who won tough races in this state and in this district and stood up for Southern Arizona values.”
Democrat Kirsten Engel was first elected in 2016 to the Arizona House, representing LD10 on Tucson’s east side, and was just elected to the Arizona State Senate in 2020.
Now she wants to take the fight to Washington to advocate for the For the People Act, or HR 1. It will make Election Day a federal holiday, provide additional protections for military and disabled voters, and shine a light on dark money spending in our elections.
Kirsten is running for Congress in Tucson’s Congressional District 2, after incumbent Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick said she would not seek another term.
As a legislator, Kirsten worked to:
- Restore funding to public schools
- Protect Arizona’s natural resources
- Make our communities safer by reforming the state’s criminal justice system.
She is a University of Arizona law professor, specializing in environmental and administrative law. Kirsten has taught at some of America’s most prestigious universities, including Tulane and Harvard.