Democrats of Greater Tucson presented Arizona Democratic Party (ADP)candidates for party chair, at DGT’s January 16, 2023, meeting. ADP will select a new Chairperson to replace outgoing Chair Senator Raquel Téran on Jan. 28th in a general party meeting in which delegates will select the ’23-’24 Chairperson. The leadership of the ADP and the ADLCC (the organizing and fundraising arm for Arizona’s legislative races) are key to the Democratic Party’s success in the 2024 elections.
Transcript of Yolanda Bejarano and Steve Gallardo Forum
Joe Daniszewski: I am Joe Daniszewski, and I’m the President of the Democrats of Greater Tucson. Our first candidate is Yolanda Bejarano, and she’s a lifelong Arizona and the daughter of immigrants. She’s an activist in the community at all levels, and she’s committed her life to support Arizonans and lifting communities too often left behind as the field director with the Communication Workers of America, the CWA, an affiliate of the AFLCIO, she has recruited and trained union members to build worker power through electoral work. She has facilitated over 50 training courses. Union members focused on political and leadership development. Having led the political field program for CWA and Arizona and across the country, she has helped scores of Democratic candidates get elected to office up and down the ballot.
Let’s give a warm welcome to Yolanda Bejarano.
Yolanda Bejarano: Thank you so much, Joe, and thank you so much to your organization.
Joe Daniszewski: Our second candidate is Steve Gallardo, and Steve is also a native-born Arizonan, and he’s devoted to his adult life to public service at the local, county and state level. He started as an organizer in Maricopa County, developing candidate training programs, spearheading voter registration drives, and organizing Get out the vote campaigns.
Steve knows firsthand that we grow our party through the hard work of voter registration and investing in the ground game. Steve presently serves on the board of supervisors of Maricopa County. He’s the lone Democrat. He’s worked with his fellow supervisors to fight against Donald Trump’s attempts to undermine democracy and overthrow the constitution.
Following the 2020 election in 2006, Steve chaired the ballot initiative that instituted a state minimum wage in Arizona. And in 10 years in the state legislature, Steve was among the loudest voices fighting for civil rights and sounding the alarm against GOP attempts on voter suppression. Let’s give another warm welcome to Steve Gallardo.
Steve Gallardo: Thank you all for this opportunity to be here. This is truly an honor to be to offer my name to be the state chair of a Democratic Party, no doubt. As stated, we’ve come across two pretty successful election cycles in 2020 sending Democrats to vote for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
I was honored to be one of those presidential electors to be able to cast that ballot. And then we just saw right now, in 2022 we did some great victories electing a Democratic Governor, Democratic Secretary of State, Attorney General, and of course, sending Senator Mark Kelly to the United States Senate for another six years.
These are all great wins, but now it’s time to say, how do we take it to the next level? How do we go into a third very successful election cycle? And that’s the discussion I’ve been having with Governor Hobbs. Governor Hobbs called me around Thanksgiving. She wanted to sit down and talk about the party, talk about her legislative agenda, her vision her plans, and include some possible initiatives as well.
But how do we go and take it to that next level? And my commitment to her is I am all in, I am I believe there’s a pathway. I believe we have opportunities to really flip the legislature once and for all. We’re very close. One vote with the House and the Senate. I think it’s critical.
She understands how critical it is. I served in the legislature. I know how crazy it can get down there But it’s critical for us to have a Democratic majority in both the House and the Senate that’s going to work with our Democratic governor to tackle critical issues. Everything from water, to infrastructure, to education, healthcare, the environment, the list goes on.
We need to make sure we have a Democratic majority that’s going to work with our governor. I believe I have the tools and resources to be able to do that, to be able to offer that to all 15 county chairs and many of our, all our legislative districts and many of our clubs and parties. I am valid. I am tested.
I have run in elections. I have been a candidate myself. I have won elections; I’ve done stuff statewide. I’m tested. I’ve been able to do it. No one will ever question my progressive values and where I stand, particularly my several years in the legislature and now on the board of supervisors.
But we have an opportunity right now to flip that legislature. But it starts by working with all 15 counties. It starts by making sure we have candidates in all our legislative districts and our congressional districts. The idea that Paul Gosar and Debbie Lesko go unopposed that’s ridiculous.
They have to have some type of candidate in that race, not only to challenge them on their principles and their craziness. But to be able to help lift up that vote, to get the vote out in many of those congressional legislative districts, we start by working with everyone. That’s my commitment to Southern Arizona.
I will be at your legislative meetings. I will be at your county meetings. This is going to be my full-time gig. Here I am. I am committed to going down to all the clubs, the caucuses, the county meetings. It’s important for us to be there. One of the biggest complaints I hear over and over again is no one is coming to our meetings.
They’re not having communications with anyone in the state party, anyone on the executive team, no one’s talking to them that’s going to change. I will be totally engaged. The only way we are going to flip. The legislature and truly turn Arizona Blue is for the state and the county to work together in a partnership.
That’s exactly what it is. It’s being engaged, it’s understanding what you all need in terms of tools and resources in order to be successful, to grow our party, to bring in new voters in our party, to bring in retirees, to be able to strengthen our base, to get the vote out. And you all need the tools and the resources, and I believe that’s the role of the state party, to be able to have that.
The second part is also fundraising. I’ve got a Rolodex. I’ve been raising money for the last 20 years, not only for myself, but for a statewide initiative. I’ve raised money for the party. Governor Hobbs has committed to be totally involved in the fundraising aspect. It’s going to take a coalition, but I believe we can Enough money that’s going to outpace any metrics we’ve ever had in the state Democratic Party to have to be able to put an infrastructure together in all 15 counties that are not only going to grow our party, get the vote out, but educate voters in the importance of going all the way down the ballot to be able to vote for all the county offices that many of the county offices in Southern Arizona are going to be, or voters are going to have to or have an opportunity to vote for.
County Sheriff, County Recorder, County Assessor, County treasurer. The list goes on. The boards of supervisors. These are the offices that we need to make sure that voters go all the way down the ballot. That’s a communication campaign. That’s a program that must be instituted. These are all the different tools and programs that need to be built.
If they’re not built, we need to build it. But the communication gap. Between the state and the county, many of these local districts have to be strengthened. That is a priority. The other thing is election protection type measures. We have seen this over and over. I saw it when I was in the legislature.
Many bills are being introduced in the legislature that are targeting the importance of voting, making it harder for people to vote, making it harder for our county courters to vote. We had the board of supervisors in Cochise County refusing to canvass the election. I think it’s upon the state party to go down to Cochise County, file a lawsuit against the Republican controlled Cochise County Board of Supervisors, Mojave County, Ron Gould, I know him.
Totally crazy. We need to be able to go down to Mohave County, file a lawsuit against them as well. The whole time that I was being sued at Maricopa County and getting death threats we kept looking at the state party. What are we doing? What are we doing? Are we going to get engaged? Are you going to intervene in the lawsuit?
Are you going to file lawsuits for whatever reason? Decisions were made not to file lawsuits. I guarantee we will have a legal plan in all 15 counties. If one Republican controlled board of supervisors decide that they’re not going to canvass the election, we’re going to march right into court and challenge their decision to not canvass the election.
If we start seeing shenanigans by some of the MAGA folks trying to make it harder for people to vote, trying to intimidate, I guarantee you we’ll walk right into court. We start putting these folks on the defensive. We go on the offense with the legal strategy in all 15 counties.
Mr. Chair, I know I’m timed up. Thank you so much.
Mike Bryan: Thanks Steve. Yolanda, over to you. You have 10 minutes.
Yolanda Bejarano: Great. Thank you so much. Hi everybody. My name is Yolanda Bejarano. I’m running to be the next chair of the Arizona Democratic Party.
I grew up in rural Arizona in a tiny town called Roll, Arizona. I was born in San Fernando Valley, California. But when I was two years old, my father moved our entire family to probably the smallest town he could find anywhere. So the population was about 400, and my dad was a farm worker, moved his way up to being up the farm mechanic.
My mom was a homemaker and a seamstress, and she would sew all of our clothes. So we’d go to school looking really odd. But now, in retrospect, looking at our pictures, it’s really precious. Yeah I’ve been a working class democrat my entire life as chair, I will build on our past successes and cement a winning formula for our state party that will benefit us in races for years to come.
As chair, I intend for our party to secure a second Democratic Senator from Arizona to flip our state legislature, regain our congressional seats and help reelect President Biden. And I can do that because I have the experience to make it happen. As a current vice chair of the party, a lifelong union organizer, a proud Latina, and a native of rural Arizona, I have the tools to move the Arizona Democratic Party forward and secure more down-ballot victories in the upcoming cycle.
And let me just take a quick moment to talk about my role in my union with Communications Workers of America. I started as a union member in 2003 at a call center in Phoenix, and I quickly became a union steward when I stood up to a manager that was mistreating a coworker in a training class.
So somebody said, you need to go talk to the union. And I’m like, okay, sure. And I did, and they said you should think about being a steward. I’m like, what is a steward? So I quickly became a steward fighting these battles at the call center where people were getting mistreated and sometimes even when people would get terminated and I would build a case to try to get their jobs back.
And we were successful. I was successful a couple of times in getting their jobs back and with back pay and making them whole. So then fast forward to 2010. SB 10 70 passed, and I could not believe that it was going to be legal to pull somebody over based on the color of their skin. I started volunteering my time.
And, beyond the representation
the union, I started volunteering my time and trying to make the connection between politics and power. And I helped volunteer my time to help elect people who believe, who shared the same values as I did, that it was fundamentally wrong to pull somebody over based on the color of their skin.
So then, I, they sent me to a training. The union sent me to political training, and I did really well, and they asked me to facilitate training. And these trainings were teaching our members how to win elections. And teaching our members how to ask other union members to contribute to our political action fund because we needed to pull our money together to be able to make contributions to candidates that fought for us.
So I did that kept doing that and I kept growing and it was sent to other states like Colorado, Minnesota, Utah, New Mexico, Washington, Oregon. And then in 2021, I was hired as the National field director. And I was hired as a national field director because I have a proven track record of knowing how to build plans, how to win elections, and how to change the lives of workers and people and the working class in the middle class.
So I have the tools to do this. Just this last cycle, I was in. At for during the runoff for Georgia, when that race went to a runoff for Senator Warnock, I took a team of folks to Georgia to knock on doors. And we were successful there.
But my organizing goes beyond just Arizona, but right now I’m focused on Arizona. I see an opportunity, so we all know that Arizona Democrats are coming off a successful 2022 election where we held onto our Senate seat and elected Democrats as Governor, secretary of State, and Attorney General, among others.
While this is a notable success, I believe that we must emphasize down ballot races and take control of the state legislature in 2024. This has to be our number one priority. So how do we do that? We organize in communities across the state to highlight our Democratic achievements. We field candidates in every.
We invest in down-ballot candidates and hold Republicans accountable for their dangerous rhetoric. I will expand on the legacy of Chair Teran and the parties experienced staff. As someone who grew up in, in a rural town outside of Yuma, I’ve seen firsthand how those who don’t live in big cities can be shut out of the political process.
So as a result, sometimes opportunities are missed and races are lost, but that will change. When I’m, when I am chair, I’m honored to have the support of several prominent Democratic leaders and elected officials, including Attorney General Kris Mayes, Congressman Greg Stanton, Congressman Ruben Gallego, Congressman Raul Grijalva and Congresswoman Anne Kirkpatrick.
And I just received a call from Congressman Tom O’Halloran that he is supporting me so they see in me someone with the know-how and determination to make sure our party is firing on all cylinders and delivering for our voters. So thank you so much for your time. I hope you’ll support me. Yolanda Bejarano for Arizona Democratic Party Chair.
Joe Daniszewski: I’m going to go ahead and ask my question. This is for both candidates. What three specific steps will you take to ensure every legislative seat will have a Democratic candidate?
Steve Gallardo: One of the most, how can I put this? I’m trying to be concerned about things I’ve learned going around talking to rural and southern Arizona is a lack of communication that cannot happen.
You got to have communication with your county parties, your clubs, your caucuses. You need to be able to identify candidates. That is a must, communication is a must, the state party has to be there. This isn’t a state party versus county. This is working together in partnership with partnership of the counties, the legislative districts as well as the clubs and everyone engaged.
You’ve got to have that communication to start identifying candidates. And what we’ve learned, or what I think republicans have learned, the quality of candidates matter. We need candidates that are going to work hard, that have the ability to raise money, to have a good mess. We all know we’re politically engaged.
We understand what it takes in order to run for office. I know I’ve run for office at least 20 times. Having my name in primaries in general elections over 20 times. I know what it takes to be a successful candidate. So identifying candidates working with the candidates, helping them in terms of knowing what to do.
I spent 14 years prior to being in the legislature at the Maricopa County Elections Department, where I was the campaign finance director working with candidates, holding their hands, but working one-on-one with the candidates. Having training seminars with these candidates but identifying them first and then working with them, that is key.
If we’re going to be successful, we need to run candidates in all the different races. We need to be able. To really show the difference between Republicans and Democrats. I’ve always said this, when you start talking about Democratic values, when you start talking about education, healthcare, the environment, water, whatever the issue is, The vast majority of independents and Republicans are going to be able to side with Democrats.
They just will. Poll polling numbers show us that. So let’s go. Let’s look at these offices. What are the offices that we didn’t run candidates, Congressman Gosar? Debbie Lesko, legislative races that some felt were too red. No, I don’t care how red they are. You find a candidate that’s qualified. We work with them, finding them, communication, finding these candidates, working with them, giving them the training, the skills they need to, many candidates are first time candidates that just don’t have the expertise and knowledge in order to really understand what is needed in a campaign.
So working with them, holding their hands. We got to have a program that’s going to work with new candidates. I hope I answered your question a little all over, but I hope I answered your question.
Joe Daniszewski: Yeah, Yolanda would you like a two minute rebuttal?
Yolanda Bejarano: Sure. It begins with listening to the county chairs, to the LD chairs getting input from PCs.
Getting input from different organizations, labor unions, casting a wide net and trying to identify to be able to recruit these candidates that we need. And we have to provide the necessary training. There’s a lot that goes into running for office. It’s not just saying you’re going to run and things just fall into place.
There’s a lot of work. And there are a lot of different pieces that there are a lot of different pieces that go along with that. So I think it’s the casting that wide net listening to folks and helping our candidates with a strong compelling message with their messaging strategy.
I think I think if we do those three things, we could be successful in taking back our legislature. Larry Bodine , would you like to ask your question, Larry?
Larry Bodine: I wanted to find out what either one of you will do to assure that we really have quality candidates running so that we don’t run into situations where, for example Diego Espinoza in LD22 , a Democrat, won the Democratic primary and then a month later quit to take a higher paying job than state legislator.
And as a result, there were no candidates listed on the ballot. The person who won is a Democrat thankfully, but she ran as a write- in candidate. How can we prevent fiascos like that from happening?
Steve Gallardo: You’re right. I think one of the things we’re seeing it more the quality of candidates were, LD 23 is a perfect example.
We should never have lost that house seat. I’m sorry. I know the candidate. I’ve talked to him. We would always call them to ask him, how’s it going? How’s it going? But if you ask anyone, that it’s a Yuma district. It’s partly in Yuma, a small part of Maricopa County.
But here’s a candidate who won the primary and then took the general election for granted. Didn’t work it, and we lost that Democratic seat to a Republican that can happen. One of the things I see this so often with candidates even in safe Democratic districts, they win their primary and then they’re off on vacation to Hawaii or wherever they’re now celebrating.
They’ve won their primary, it’s a one-party dominated district. Now when we run for office, we need a commitment from our candidates that we are going to run hard from day one to the end of the election because it helps drive out the vote. In even the Democratic stronghold, by campaigning all the way in the general, even though it’s one party dominated, we are still driving out the vote for the entire ticket.
So I think it’s important to not only identify quality candidates who are going to be committed to work. All the way through the election and don’t take anything for granted. We need candidates that understand the importance and what’s at stake. So many times I see this all the time, you have candidates running and some kind of self-serving in some cases, but they run because they think it’s a good gig.
This is totally important. The Arizona State Legislature, the perfect example. It’s a very important job. I was there for years. I took it extremely seriously. I’ve ran from day one to, to the end. I never lost. I never took it for granted. We need candidates who are committed, who are going to raise the money, who are going to work, knock on doors, make those phone calls, give everything they got from the start of their campaign to them.
But it starts off by identifying candidates that are really serious, qualified candidates. And yes, we want to help them. We’re going to do everything we can to help them, but they need to step up and give it everything they’ve got. We should have never lost the seed in LD23. That is the one that we need to pick up right off the bat.
But when it comes to some of these tougher districts where we need to be able to not only grow our party, we have to grow our party and we need to convince perhaps some independence to vote our way as well. In some of these dark red districts, we can flip them. If we talk about Democratic values, we can flip them.
But we got to talk about our Democratic issues because I guarantee you look at any polling number, independent and moderate Republicans would agree with the Democratic platform. Our values when it comes to education, healthcare, environment, water, the economy, they agree with us. We either have to get our message out there by identifying the right candidates.
Yolanda Bejarano: I just want to for clarification, Larry, your question was how do we prevent a situation like what happened with Diego Espinoza?
Mike Bryan: You want to repeat your question, Larry, just for clarity?
Larry Bodine: Sure. So the idea is what can you do to improve the quality of candidates so that we don’t run into fiascos like Espinoza when there is a primary and then he drops out a month later forcing Democrats to run as a write in candidate.
In other words, not only to field candidates for every position but also to find somebody who can win and who’s going to stay in the race.
Yolanda Bejarano: That is a really great question. And sometimes candidates are, sometimes people run, I would argue, for their own self-interest and not for the interests of their constituents.
How do we prevent that? How do we manage that? I think we could start by having more regular communication with candidates to talk about our values, making sure we give them. Put the pressure on them when they’re not doing what they are supposed to be doing for their constituents or, if they take a vote in support of let’s say something egregious that hurts their communities or their constituents, then I think we need to not be afraid to call people out and, publicly flag for them and for their constituents that, that that this is not going to be tolerated.
That this is not part of our Democratic values. So I think, perhaps something like that might cause some people to pause before they decide to do something like Diego Espinoza did. I think he felt that he was not responsible. Honestly, he betrayed the voters.
They voted for him, he won the election, he betrayed the voters. And then we had to run this campaign, a write-in campaign. We all could have lost that. So it’s irresponsible and I think we just need to call people out.
Mike Bryan: Thank you. Would either one of you like a rebuttal to the statement of the other?
Steve Gallardo: Yes, what he did was wrong. It put a lot in jeopardy. It was a seat that is a Democratic stronghold, and anytime you have an independent or not in a write-in campaign, anything could happen.
And it’s too scary especially in a Democratic stronghold. So that was wrong. Shame on him. Shouldn’t have done it. But the issue that I see, Year in and year out. I don’t I think it’s candidates that are taking their race for granted. That is, that disturbs me more than anything if we’re going to lose a race.
It’s because a candidate like LD 23 where the candidate did not take it seriously. He won his primary and he went on vacation. He did not campaign in the general and again, a Democratic district and a moderate Republican came in and beat him. How do you lose a Democratic stronghold? I think we see this so often and we have quite a few, majority of our Democrats are, for the most part, because the way the lines were drawn, they’re in one party dominated districts.
But it’s an encouragement. We had a meeting right before the election with Governor Hobbs and Mark Kelly. We had it right out here in West Phoenix. At a golf course had 50 people. We had a lot of legislative candidates and that was our ask, or our push for them is even though they’ve won their primary and they may not even had Republican opponent, they’ve already, they’ve won.
We, it’s critical that we keep campaigning. We continue to drive out the vote even in dominated Democratic areas. We got to continue to work from day one to the very end. You cannot take anything from granted, even if you don’t have a Republican opponent, continue to campaign because that’s how we drive out the vote.
You look at some of the lowest voter turnouts, let’s be honest. I can tell you, particularly in Maricopa County, they’re Democratic areas. There’s a several reasons why the voter turnout is unfortunately low, and we have got to continue to work on it and drive votes out. But we need to continue to campaign from day one to the end to ensure that every vote comes out.
because every vote matters. And it’s not just, it’s not just Maricopa, Pima, it’s across the state in all 30 legislative districts. So that would be the more, more critical issue is these candidates have to campaign from day one to, to the very end and take nothing for granted. And these are the conversations that the state chair and I welcome these type of tough discussions.
I’ve been in their shoes. I’ve been in those campaigns. I know they’re hard. I know they’re tiring, but they got to continue on to the very end.
Mike Bryan: Yolanda, would you like a minute or two for a rebuttal on this issue?
Yolanda Bejarano: I think it goes beyond just saying that they were not That the candidates take their race for granted?
I don’t think it’s that. I think it’s, I think there are people that again, are serving their own self-interest for whatever reason. Whether it’s for others, it’s a stepping stone to go to another position, whatever it is. And I think it’s not just taking their race for granted.
I think it’s, there are fundamental issues with, with how some folks think running for office or holding a position that is beneficial to them, not to their constituents. So I think it’s not just taking something for granted. I think it’s just they’re not challenged in their in their values, and they sell an idea that they’re Democrats and here I’m a Democrat, I’m on the ballot and I believe this, and this.
And then they go off to the legislature or wherever, and they start voting against these values and, and people are busy and they’re working, and they don’t have time to look at every single vote. So I think I think it’s something that we need to just call out more.
Mike Bryan: It’s time for my question. I’m hearing a lot of agreement both in style and approach and philosophy here. I’d like to hear from both of you some contrasts that you have noted during this experience between your campaigns. And draw a line under those things for us, two or three issues or approaches that you think really distinguish your two campaigns.
And Yoli, I’m going to let you go first this time.
Yolanda Bejarano: Sure. I would say my, my idea on growing the party and winning these elections is and this has worked in my union role is organizing from the ground up from the bottom up. You organize from the bottom up. You cannot do this top down, pushing your ideas down.
It doesn’t work. It may work if for a little while, but you really have to spend time with people. You really have to organize them and what that means people throw the word around a lot. But organizing, really what it means, at least to me, is bringing in people who don’t already agree with you.
And then you, and you do that by building a real relationship with them. We cannot just go to people a couple of months before an election and say, vote for a Democrat. It’s going to change your life because people knocking on the doors, you know what they tell me, and they’ve been telling me this for 20 years.
My life has not changed. My life has not, my, I’m still struggling. I’m struggling to put food on the table. I’m, the schools are a disaster. I voted for Democrats, like it’s a mess. We’re being attacked from everywhere. So I think it’s I think it’s organizing, talking to people, listening, I think is a, is one of the big differences I’ve noticed listening and really deeply listening.
Also I think relational organizing using different tools. I have the experience of using all these different tactics that have proven to work, like relational organizing, like deep canvassing. So I think that’s one of the main differences. I have. The experience in trying out new things and reaching out to voters.
That’s one thing. The second thing is I’m bilingual. I’m fluent in Spanish. I can talk to folks like my parents who were not fluent in English. And I could, but they became citizens, and they were able to vote. There are a lot of folks like that. So I can talk to them about their families, about their futures, about the vision, what they want to see for their families in their language.
So I think that’s a major differentiation between me and Steve.
Steve Gallardo: All
Mike Bryan: right. Thank you. You actually have some time left if you want to highlight anything else. You good? It says she’s welcome. All right. Steve why don’t you give us a couple of items that you think contrast between you and Yoli
Steve Gallardo: Let me start off by saying that, cause I heard this the other day. Oh, there’s one of the reporters at the Capitol say, oh, there’s a rift within the Democratic party. No, there’s not. There’s not, I think at the end of the day we’re all going to, we’re on the same team.
We’re all one big family and we’re going to work to really turn the party around. We just have different visions and different ways of doing it. I can tell you the biggest I. First and foremost, it’s just experience. I don’t use talking points. I don’t use memos. I don’t use, I don’t use that.
I speak straight from the heart. I wear my beliefs on my sleeve. I’ve had the experience. I’ve been doing campaigns. I’ve been in politics much longer than she has. I’ve run for just about every office you can possibly think of. I know what it takes to win elections. I’ve run statewide initiatives.
I know what it takes to win. I’ve been on presidential campaigns. I was a presidential elector because it was a presidential campaign. I’ve done it all. But I think it’s important. I think one of the biggest differences, and I hear I’m an organizer.” We’re all organizers in some respects, but it’s more than just an organizer.
The chair of the state party is an administrator who has different stools, different legs that you have to be able to do. One is being able to raise money. Done it, have a Rolodex, been able to raise money for statewide initiatives. State Party, done it over and over again, even me. So I think that’s fundraising is one, is being able to identify and listen.
I don’t know about this top-down thing. Never heard of it. I don’t know what that comes from. I don’t believe in that. I’ve always said it’s a partnership. We have to work together. The 15 counties, the 30 legislative districts, the state party’s only as strong as the 15 counties and 30 legislative districts.
I am very disappointed. Even Yolanda, she’s been on the, on, on the executive team and she’s never gone to any of these meetings. You’ve got to be there, you got to be having these types of discussions. And also I think just understanding and the ability to rally people up.
That’s what I’m known for. There’s a reason why Mark Kelly would invite me to every one of his campaign things every weekend. There’s a reason why Katie Hoffman invited me, because I’d go in there and rally up the base. I would get them fired up. The importance of getting out voting. You put me in front of an audience and I’ll fire them up without any talking points.
I will speak from the heart. I know the challenges that our families are facing, the economic and social challenges they face every day. I see it from a school board level. I see it from a Board of Supervisors. I believe I have all the tools necessary to be able to grow our party, to bring new people into our party.
I’m not one to be divisive in terms of within our party. I’m not going to call people out. I’m not going to alienate people. I’m not going to do a Kari Lake, when Kari Lake stood up in her in a rally and she said who in this room, supports John McCain? Get out. I don’t want you. That’s no way of growing a party.
I’m going to build our party, I believe in a Big 10, and let’s bring everyone together. We have people from all walks of life, from rural to urban, from different parts of our state. I’m going to bring people together to grow our party, to have one big victory in 2024.
Mike Bryan: To close out this section. Yolanda, would you like to make any rebuttal to
Yolanda Bejarano: Yes, absolutely. So I am also an administrator in my role with Communications Workers of America. I manage multimillion dollar budgets for different campaigns across the country. I also manage staff. As far as the fundraising piece I’ve also fundraised for take candidates.
Mike Bryan: I have connections on the national level with a lot of untapped resources and also personal connections with folks with a lot of resources who have actually helped some candidates in Arizona with a lot of major donations. As far as the talking points piece, I like to prepare my, my, you know what I’m going to say as a sign of respect for folks because I know that we’re, we don’t have all the time in the world, so I like to prepare my thought process and so we can, so I don’t take up a lot of.
All right. Thank you. Let’s move to the next section in which the candidates will be able to ask questions of each other. Steve, would you like to ask a question of Yolanda?
Steve Gallardo: No, I like you. Yeah. Yolanda and I get along. We’re friends. At the end of the day, whoever wins, we’re going to work my pledge to Yolanda
if Yolanda wins, I’m going to work with her. And I would hope that if I win, she works with me. We’re one big 10 party. It’s going to take, it’s all, we’re all in this together. It’s all hands on deck. If we truly want to win in 2024, if we truly want to, we can’t be calling people out. We can’t be name calling each other.
We got to work together. You’re going to find Democrats in our Democratic party. I’m a gay Latino. You’re going to have members that are L G B T. You’re going to have folks that may not be very happy with who I am and who I love. We are going to have folks that are very progressive. I’m very progressive.
You have folks that are a little bit more centrist. You’re going to have folks that are rural. You’re going to have folks that are urban. You’re going to have young people going to have retirees. We’re a big 10 party, but at the end of the day, we want to move Arizona forward. We all believe in the issue. When we would have legislative fights at the legislature especially, we would pick leaders When we would have the elections to pick leaders.
One of the, one of the hardest times being a legislator is trying to find a leader for your caucus. There were people that walked into that room a little hurt. But at the end of the day, the one thing that brought us all together were the issues. It’s education, it’s healthcare, it’s the environment, it’s water, the economy, it’s our families, it’s our jobs.
You name it, it goes. That’s what brings us together as Democrats. We’re a Big 10 party. We all, we are not going to always agree, but at the end of the day, many of the issues are going to bring us all back together. We want to change the face of the state legislature. It brings everyone together. That’s my, my, my commitment to you.
I’m not going to call anyone out. I’m not going to pick fights within our party. I want to grow our party. I want to bring people together. That’s how we’re going to win in 2024.
Mike Bryan: Yolanda again, in the spirit of, camaraderie and party unity, are there any questions that you’d like to ask Steve about his candidacy or his
Yolanda Bejarano: positions? No. I have immense respect for Supervisor Gallardo and, I think he said it perfectly this, we’re a big tent party.
I’m I am a working class democrat, common sense Democrat and a champion of our big tent party. And I think it’s great that we’re able to debate ideas. It’s a battle of big ideas, and it’ll make our party stronger in the end. Okay. At the end of this we will come after the election, we will come together.
And definitely, work
Mike Bryan: together. All right. The next part of our program will be questions from our audience. Tonight, just for security purposes, we’re doing questions in chat. So if you have a question you want to ask either or both of the candidates, please specify whether it’s for both or either and I’ll ask them for you.
Very early on, we got a question from Claudia Miller. Who wants to hear from you, either of you. I’m supposing, or perhaps both. She’s concerned that we lost two possible congressional seats, the Hobbs and Hodges Schweikert race, and the Ciscomani and Engel races which were pretty close.
And he feels that Hodges could have won, especially if the Democratic National Committee had come forth with some good money for both seats. How did that happen? Do you have insight into that? And what can we do to ensure that we don’t fumble again next time around?
Yolanda Bejarano: I can go first. Schweikert won by 3,000 votes, 3008 votes.
Ciscomani won by 5,119 votes. The margins were so close. I think it was I mean it’s, it is just, it’s, these are seats we have to win, and we can win. Those margins are so tiny. And there, there were obvious missteps by the D Triple C and not coming in for angle until it was, too late.
And same thing for Jevin Hodge. So I think that can be, that as chair, the chair would have to have, I would have conversations with the DCCC. To push for more resources for these races that, that we cannot just have people in DC deciding what’s going on the ground here.
So I think it’s advocating and really putting the pressure on the D Triple C to come through.
Mike Bryan: Steve, you have a response?
Steve Gallardo: Let me take it even a little bit back further because this is something that really just irks me. We went through an independent redistricting the redistricting process. First of all, I think the actual census was flawed. I think Donald Trump purposely unfunded the Census Bureau so we wouldn’t have a proper count in our urban areas and our low income minority areas.
Mike Bryan: Our tribal areas, a flawed process on the census. Redistricting was a joke. These districts were drawn in a partisan, gerrymandered way. And what did we do? We didn’t even sue. We didn’t even take it to court. And I myself jumped on a plane and flew over to Washington, DC to meet with MALDEF to try to get them to enter into litigation.
I called the Commission on Civil Rights in Washington to try to get them engaged. We need to be, have a legal strategy that fights back when the independent redistricting pushed out this gerrymandered partisan map on legislative congressional members.
I think when it comes down to actually funding the DCCC made a mistake. They spent 4 million. Do you guys know how much they are? 4 million in Congressman Stanton’s race. And I get it. They try to pick where the areas that they want to fund, they put 4 million, I believe it’s four, it could be a little bit off, around 4 million in Congressman Stan’s race.
They could have taken some of that money, put it right into Jevin Hodge’s race, and that would’ve been a solid victory. It’s unfortunate they made the mistake. It’s my understanding, talking to Jevin, that I don’t think the DCC C is going to underestimate any Democrat in that congressional district. I think they’re going to be all in.
But here’s the bigger fight, and this is the discussion I had with Governor Hobbs. We all know how this works, guys. We all know you have these big national donors. We saw it this time. They came in and they said, we have 20 million we want to put into Arizona. However we’re going to earmark one.
They said, we’re going to bring in our own people to do it, and then we’re going to earmark it by only putting our money in this area, and this area. These are the tough conversations, I believe Governor Hobbs needs to have with many of these major donors saying we, we understand their mission, their strategy, their desire.
But we are working in all 30 districts. We’re working with all congressional districts. We need to make sure that we drive out the vote in every corner of our state. Every vote matters. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small rural county or a large urban county like Maricopa County. Yes, I get it. Okay. Yes, I get it.
Maricopa, Pima County, big numbers. A lot of voters. The guys spend a lot of money here, but we cannot forget the other 13 counties across the state of Arizona. These are big discussions and hard and difficult discussions we have got to have with national donors. The money’s coming. We just have to have a tough discussion with them.
you Steve. Larry Wagoner, who is I don’t know if he’s still the chair of LD 17, but he was the chair LD17. You got it. That was a difficult district for us and we came very close to capturing some key seats there. And he wants to know Steve specifically. You say you’re tested, but what have you done to help the party in the past two years?
He’s directly questioning your involvement over the past two years.
Steve Gallardo: Oh, You bet. I have been engaged in mostly the county parties here, and the state party when they would ask me, I would definitely help. I, this particular election, I was not on the ballot. I was a foot soldier in this one.
I traveled across the state. I was a surrogate for Senator Kelly. They literally would ask me every single, almost every weekend, come speak, Governor Hobbs did the exact same thing. I have a regular meeting right here with political leaders. This is where, I don’t know if y’all They actually took a page out of my playbook.
And that is the tour the political tour that Senator Kelly. And as well as Governor Hobbs. And it’s something that we have done. It’s actually a page out of DCCC’s Playbook, but I always use it. We use it for Napolitano, and we actually do a tour of the county or the state. We did it during presidential campaigns.
We did it with John Kerry as well, where we organized a tour across the state of Arizona. We started, I want to say in the town of Guadalupe, and worked our way into Yuma Lake. Havasu, Bullhead, I think Jack Jackson Jr. At the time took it to Coconino County, Flagstaff, and then Navajo.
But these are the things that I have always done to help the bigger ticket we did the tours. I’ve always been a surrogate. It’s one of my, my strong points is speaking. I have no problem speaking in public. I have no problem giving that rah-rah firing up the crowd. Anytime that they needed help in terms of, at least on Maricopa County, there were like, two or three, three times that they’ve asked me to provide food for the entire Maricopa County Precinct Committeeman delegation, which is a good 2000 people.
I was able to go raise the money just so they can have lunch for those. We did it in no, it had to be the state party because we did it in Yavapai County and I did it here in Maricopa County twice in Maricopa County, once in Yavapai County, but nonetheless provide food. I’ll do whatever they’re asking me to do.
I’m a foot soldier in these fights. Let it be organizing, creating these tours or let it be just a simple fundraiser to help pay for something they’re doing. I’m a foot soldier. You ask me and I will get it done. You ask anyone in the party what they think of my help, let it be in the county or even at times the state party or any of the statewide campaigns. I don’t think they’ll ever give you a bad comment.
Mike Bryan: Let me give you the opportunity for a rebuttal there if you wish.
Yolanda Bejarano: I’ve fundraised for the party, used my own personal money also helped bring money from donors into the party.
Gosh, I think helping candidates, I know that’s not the question, but helping for example, congressman Tom O’Halleran. I organized a town hall for him in Casa Grande. The subject was rural broadband expansion, which is, very important topic.
The Internet should be just like, just like water. It should be something that everybody has. And so in order for children and for people to sometimes see a doctor, they need to have a strong internet reliable connection. So we did this thing for Congressman O’Halleran, and he brought somebody from the from the cabinet president’s cabinet, and then we did this event.
It was amazing. And we got the front page, we made the front page of the Casa Grande newspaper, and it was to help him and to show people there that Congressman o’ Halloran was working so hard to get them broadband better internet connection. So I do things like that across Arizona in an effort to help our candidates that are really.
That we’re putting in the work and help electives are putting in the work to make life better for Arizonans. Thank you.
Mike Bryan: So we have a question from Corrine cooper, a longtime activist here in Arizona. Most of us know her. She asks if I live in one of those several majority BIPOC LDs in Arizona.
She wants to know both your plans to increase registration and turnout in, in our majority our minority majority districts. Please go ahead. Yolanda, you spoke last, last time.
Yolanda Bejarano: How do we increase voter turnout or and involvement and BIPOC communities? There, we go back to investing and allocating resources on the ground, making sure we’re there.
Mike Bryan: With events on a, I have a vision that every single month we’re going to be in the communities in targeted communities to get out, to lift our, to bring up our voter registration numbers. I will say that it is very difficult to do voter registration. I’ll share a quick story.
When I first started volunteering for candidates after SB 10 70, this band came into Phoenix called Manna. They’re a Mexican, big Mexican band. They sold out this big arena, gigantic arena. I don’t know. There were, however, 20,000 people there. And I thought to myself I’m going to register a couple thousand people to vote at this event.
And the band was also on board with the, with the voter registration. They even said it from the stage. I registered 14 people. Because people they were, they’re like, it doesn’t matter. Voting doesn’t matter. They’re mostly Latinos. And I was so shocked I could not believe that there was this major disconnect talking to folks like saying, do you know that this is what’s happening now.
They’re going to be able to pull you over and pull your parents over. And so I think it goes back to this responsibility that we have in communicating, over communicating and just repetition. Letting people know what is happening, what is going on, and how it affects their families. I think republicans do a really good job of connecting to, to people’s heart.
They, but they use fear. They say they’re going to come and take your family away. They’re going to do this. And Democrats, I think sometimes we’re we talk about policy and we’re up here in our heads, so we need to do a better job with our messaging. And so our messaging strategy needs to be one that talks to folks, that connects with folks.
And it can’t just be, it can’t just be at the very end when we need somebody’s vote. It cannot be, it has to be a long-term strategy of building out and building real relationships with
people. Thank you, Yoli.
Steve Gallardo: Steve, your response? Oh man. This is issue number one. A quick story. I coach a baseball team.
I have a high school baseball team. And President Obama, this past election came to their school and my entire team was sending me a message saying, coach, I’m not coming to practice. I’m going to go see Obama. Go for it. Go do it. It’s a once in a lifetime. Go hear him speak. It was right before.
right before the election. But when I asked these same high school kids why they were going. No. The next day when they came back, they were telling me about the speech. But the other question they had was, why was he here? Why did Obama come? They had no idea it was election time.
That’s shame on us. We need to do more to educate our young people. One of the things we need to get down to is the root cause. And I love concerts and they’re great. Rally people up. But we truly want to grow our minority majority districts. We want to get people out. We need to really get to the root cause.
We need to go in and we need to do door-by-door stuff. We need to be able to go in and talk to people. One of the things that we’ve done in our high schools since Covid is called 18 and voting. We’d go into these high schools and we will have rallies with our high school students and talk about the importance of voting.
Talk about why every vote counts. You start talking to them at that age. Kid voting is gone. We need to engage young people. The drives me crazy. We hire all these young kids to go out and door knock, and then when the election’s over, we shoo them away. We don’t see them for another two years.
No. We got to engage them, get them involved in our party, get them involved in politics. Let them know why civic and political responsibility is so important. But it starts at a very young age. Kids voting, going door to door. We did it with covid. We can do it with voting. We got to tear down the barriers that keep poor people from going out to vote.
They don’t have the transportation; they may not have the ability to get off work. We need to tear down those barriers. Give them the opportunity to vote. But it takes one house at a time. It’s long process, but the only way we’re going to be able to drive out voter turnout in some of the poorest communities in our neighborhoods, the ones that face tremendous challenges, but it’s one voter at a time.
Cesar Chavez grew the farm workers union one worker at a time. We need to look at all our neighborhoods door to door, working one at a time, but we have to focus on our young people. Let’s get, let’s start getting them engaged at a very young age.
Mike Bryan: Thanks Steve. We have a question here from Sanda Clark, who is a very special lady who was running a very difficult campaign in LD 19 this last time around.
She questions how much, and I guess this is to both of you, how much are you prepared to help candidates running in MAGA red districts? I ran an LD 19 and got zero help from the party. In fact, Charlie Fisher. Said he would offer no help because it was a DOA type race. Yet Sierra Vista just selected the Black Democratic Mayor.
And I got to say, if you saw somebody like Sanda in the field, people responded very positively to her. And it’s a building process. So I want to hear from both of you how we can better support people in our least competitive districts. Let’s start with you,
Steve Gallardo: This was question number one that, that we had with Governor Hobbs too, when I first met with her is we need to be able to run candidates in all our districts.
Yes, we want to be careful with our monies, but we have to support our candidates. In the reddest district, we recalled Russell Pierce in a red district, we can. We can do it. I’ve done it. I’ve been there. We can do it. We need to be able to offer the support, the tools and the resources that many of these courageous candidates know, it’s a very tough uphill battle to give them everything they can to be able to make a difference.
Because at the end of the day, these candidates who are working real hard, even if they fall a little short, have helped the entire ticket. They have driven out Democrats, independents to come out and vote for the broader scope. So yes, we need to go and give those tools and the resources they need in order to be a strong candidate.
We cannot, this idea that’s too red, we’re not going to do it. Russell Pierce passed away, but he would’ve never left the legislature. We cannot, we have got to take that mentality away. We have to go in there and help every one of these candidates, particularly those that are in the red districts, because the stronger they are, the stronger the state party is, the stronger the state ticket is.
We’re driving out both. And if we’re really good at doing what we’re doing, we’ll get them elected. Thanks, Steve.
Mike Bryan: Yolanda, what’s your response?
Yolanda Bejarano: First thank you Sanda for running. Thank you so much. I would say we could offer candidate training and support more coordination with the coordinated campaign, and steer candidates towards good consultants to be able to help them with their races.
Mike Bryan: Let’s move on to Bonnie Heidler’s question her former chair of Pima County Democrats. She says, as an organization that hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars, runs through. How will you make the organization more professional and assume more accountable for that money and how it gets spent?
Yolanda Bejarano: First, we need to do an audit of our current practices. And once we have that the holes will be easier to identify. You, we make the party more professional by making sure that we recruit and hire or develop our staff to being the, the top-notch staff that we need in order to win, to win our races, in order to, to change our lives.
I go back to the change in the lives of Arizonans for the better, to lift people out of poverty. There are a couple of different things that we do, but it starts with a, with an audit of our current practices to find out where our gaps are.
Mike Bryan: Thank you,
Steve. You want to respond?
Steve Gallardo: Excellent question. And keep in mind , the vast majority of the money doesn’t even come through the state party. It doesn’t, let’s be real. It doesn’t. You have the labor cable, you have the Arizona Wins. You have all these folks, and then you have the outside dollars.
You have the DCCC c legislative campaign committee. You have so many different groups. But it goes back to coordination, communication, working together, bringing people together. It goes back to having hard discussion. This is the discussion I have with Governor Hobbs. I know how this works. I’ve seen it happen so many times.
You’re going to have big donors. This is the presidential year, Arizona’s Ground zero here. They want our 11 electoral votes. We welcome the big donors to come in and help turn out the vote. But these are the discussions we have to have to make sure that they’re spending the money, not just in certain earmarked areas.
We need to be able to spend in other areas as well. We need to be working with the labor table. We need to be able to work with Arizona. We need to work with all these different groups to make sure we’re coordinating together, that we’re not overspending with each other, that we’re, it’s a team sport here.
Everyone has a job, but it takes coordination. It takes the ability to know how this works, how, where the funding is coming from, who’s in charge of the funding. All this is experience. This is the stuff I’ve learned over the last 20 plus years. It’s, this is how you move Arizona forward. And this is what I believe, that we have a pathway, we have a pathway to victory, but it takes Governor Hobbs, it takes a strong experience, a chairperson to be able to understand where the funding is coming and how it all works.
But yeah, you’re right. We want to make sure we spend and have the maximum strength of every dollar. We don’t want to waste dollars. We want to make sure we are moving the Democratic party forward and we are having victories with those dollars.
Mike Bryan: I see a couple of questions here that I can combine. And basically the thrust is how do we get more money to our LDs to support those legislative candidates?
And what kind of plans and promises can you make to send that money to the local LDs to help them win?
Steve Gallardo: When I was in the legislature, and this goes back, this is the creation of the legislative district campaign committee. I’m not, I’m thinking everyone understands, it’s like the d c but for legislative races there was a few legislators who were not happy with the priorities that the state party was doing on the coordinated side.
So they said we’re going to create our own legislative district campaign committee. And they did. I don’t want to debate the merits because at the end of the day, it’s still here. What we ended up doing was moving monies from the state party to the legislative district campaign committee.
Prior to the legislative district campaign committee, we were all raising money for the state party would have a big dinner, we would raise money for the coordinated campaign, and that’s how it was done. We created the legislative district campaign committee. It’s a separate entity. It’s a separate board.
Separate leader Dr. Myers, I don’t know if you are all familiar with Dr. Myers. He was the one that really organized it, put it together. But we need to really have a strong discussion with them about how that is being operated. It’s, again, it’s a partnership. It’s, yet, it’s underneath the Democratic umbrella.
We have the same goals electing Democrats, but it’s a separate arm. But we got to have those tough discussions. We, they’re going to have money. And we’re going to have money as a state party. There’s going to be outside money. It’s how do you coordinate all them together to ensure that every district has the tools and the resources they need in order to be successful.
Even some of those districts that they make, some may claim that are too red, no, let’s try to do what we can because at the end of the day, it’s about voter turnout. It’s about the big ticket. It’s about driving out voters. It doesn’t matter if they’re, if the Democrats are in a red district or a blue district, we want them voting.
And that’s part of the strategic plan that we have got to have in place. But it takes a discussion like with the legislative district campaign committee to have them involved.
Mike Bryan: Thanks, Steve. Yolanda. So how do we move, how do we make sure that we get the adequate we’ve got money for the districts?
Yolanda Bejarano: The plan for me is to visit, talk to all the counties and build our fundraising plans based off the needs of each county. And the amounts will not be dictated by the D N C or will not be dictated by the, top down strategy.
Mike Bryan: It will be done in close consultation with the county chairs and the LDs. And, it’s about collaboration and making sure that we get the necessary resources to, to folks to be able to run the, their plans. It comes up a lot in conversations on the ADLCC and some of the missteps.
And I think what’s needed is a real valuation of the ADLCC, what’s working and what’s not working. And so we can make these partnerships stronger and so we can ultimately win, which is what our main.
Thanks, Julie. Now Barbara Warren has a question that also dovetails with a previous question that was asked, and that’s how will you develop a state platform for the Democrats and how will you move that platform forward for each candidate running and hold them to it?
Because we’ve seen, some issues with miss Sinema, not exactly hewing to our platform, and we’ve gotten some comments about that too. Yolanda, you want to address that first? How do we enforce moving together?
Yolanda Bejarano: What we do first is immediately after the election, we have a meeting with our new diverse board from, with folks across the state and we talk about our, our priorities and what our platform is and what we want to prioritize.
I think I think we start there.
Steve Gallardo: So I served with Sinema. When we’re in the legislature, the Sinema I served with in the legislature is not the Sinema I see in Washington. Christian Sinema was probably one of the most progressive members of the legislature. We parted up so many times, she went to Washington and became a different person.
Maybe it’s the air or something, I don’t know. But nonetheless, she is gone. She is no longer part of our party. But I think when it comes down to a platform, I think it is a combination of not only the entire board, but all our stakeholders. We need, we have strong stakeholders, we have Planned Parenthood, we have labor unions.
We have other nonprofit type organizations that are very engaged and wanting to be part to ensure that Democrats are in control. So it’s bringing everyone together. One of the first things I do is I will bring a large group together to talk and create that platform that would include our stakeholders, like Planned Parenthood, like Sierra Club, like the labor unions, and let’s create a platform.
We got to work with our legislative delegation as well. We don’t want to create a platform where the legislators are not, at least the leadership. Let’s bring the leadership in to be part of that discussion. But it’s no different than how the DNC when we go, I don’t know how many people have been to the national convention.
Everyone comes together and when we work on a platform no different, it’s bringing everyone together, including our stakeholders who are our partners. Let’s call them partners. Let’s call them partners. Planned Parenthood, labor unions Sierra Club, many other environmental groups, as well as some of our legislative leaders who create our platform that we can all campaign on in 2024.
Mike Bryan: Thank you, Steve. There’s an ancillary question from Barbara Warren about this. She also wants to know what issues you feel the Democratic party needs to be emphasizing going into 23 and 24. Yolanda, you want to answer that first?
Yolanda Bejarano: What issues do we need to be emphasizing going into 2024? We saw what the Dobbs decision choice will be a big issue and will continue to be a big issue. Voting rights, with the help of or I would say with, without the help, with the help of Senator Sinema, we took away our opportunities to pass the Freedom to Vote Act, which would’ve strengthened our voting rights.
And that was awful. And so I think also we could, one of the, another thing we need to be emphasizing is labor rights, workers’ rights. Most people are working and they do not have a voice on the job. So a recent poll showed that over, I think it was over 70% of people believe that they should have the right to join a union if they want to.
I think another issue is, protecting our social security and Medicare, which the, republicans are saying that they are going to come after. I think we, we need to emphasize those things and mobilize our people who already are Democrats and think like us, and then organize and bring other people in on these very important issues that are that might, might be on the chopping block.
Steve Gallardo: Everything from water being very key right now that translates across political spectrum. Republicans, Democrats independent voters want something done with water. Water is a must. That’s something we need to continue to push out there. The Supreme Court, definitely Supreme Court.
Top billing. I’m sorry if Donald Trump becomes president. You think the Supreme Court is that far away? You now we’re talking about gay rights, we’re talking about contraceptives. This is the stuff that’s going to be on the table. If Donald Trump is back in the White House, or if the Republican is back in the White House, Supreme Court is key.
The Roe v. Wade decision, that’s, that is also key that you look at any poll. The vast. Of voters in Arizona. Wow. I can’t tell you about the country, but I’d imagine it’s similar across the country, but in Arizona, vast majority of voters, republicans, Democrats, and independent oppose what the Supreme Court has done and support a woman’s right to reproductive cares and access to abortion.
That’s fact, that’s what the polls are saying. So I think those election deniers, that thing went big for us. The fact that our elections were under attack, the fact that these radical Republicans had an insurrection in our national capitol tried to overturn the will of the voter, try to overturn a national election, that is key.
We got to continue to push that, that brings Republicans and independent moderate Republicans to say no. Those are key issues. So I think those labor issues, of course, always. I’m a big AFSCME guy. I think I’ve introduced more labor bills than any member of the legislature.
But I think the big top three issues are choice, voting rights and water.
Mike Bryan: We’re getting pretty far into the program. So I think Joe Daniszewski, our president, has been reviewing some of the questions in chat.
And he wants to get in there and do a speed round. So what we’re going to do is have Joe ask those questions and combine some if he can, and get a speed round in 30 seconds per candidate.
Joe Daniszewski: How about offering free van access to every Democrat running? Yes. Yes
Steve Gallardo: Yes.
Yolanda Bejarano: Yes.
Joe Daniszewski: Could you discuss a little bit more about resourcing counties and legislative districts? So we can build a party outside of elections?
Steve Gallardo: I think it’s number one goal is to be able to engage all 30 legislative districts and all 15 counties to ensure that you have the tools and the resources to grow the party.
This is how we win. We have got to bring in new voters, young voters, retirees, voters that sit on the sideline, bring them in. We got to grow our party, we got to get them out to vote. Yes, key number one. But you need the resources, and that’s where a partnership, state and county party work together to do that.
Yolanda, anything you’d like to add?
Yolanda Bejarano: We have to prioritize that, that we have to prioritize that it cannot just be, again, like I mentioned earlier, where we come into a community or an area and just try to get their vote at the very last minute. We have to prioritize and build and strengthen our LDs and our counties, and we do that through myriad different ways that we can do that.
Through training, through again, organizing and really agitating, especially the young folks on getting involved. And it’s possible. Okay.
Joe Daniszewski: And a couple questions about how can we diversify our party? How can we get more young people? How can we get more people of color? What do you think, Yolanda? You want to take a stab at that one?
Yolanda Bejarano: Sure. I think again, it goes back to being intentional and reaching out to folks and giving them like a guide or a checklist of things that they can do to get involved in the party. Whether they want to get into finance, whether they want to be go into, the political director, whatever it is, we give them a pathway, a leadership pipeline, and we give them the right resources and trainings so we can get them involved and keep them involved and, could also include a mentorship program that works.
Steve Gallardo: Great question. There’s a study that’s been around for a few years. It’s called The New Majority, and who is the new majority? Who are these new voters? It’s young people of color and women. Those segments of voters are determining who’s going to be the president, who’s going to be the governor, who’s going to be in our legislature.
We got to focus on that. That includes working with people like the Intertribal Council to make sure we have all the tribes at the table. Let’s bring in the tribes, let’s have them part of our party. Let’s go into some of the hardest areas with low voter turnout, which are predominantly low income minority areas.
Let’s go in there and engage these people in these voters. I live in the neighborhood I live in. Let’s go out and engage these young people, get them engaged in our party, in our campaign. Let’s put them in leadership roles within the party. Let’s have them have an opportunity to run for office. We have a young guy out in the West Valley, 18 years old, ran for school board one.
Kudos to him. We need to engage our young people. We need to engage people of color, and we need to be able to continue to bring women into our party as well. This is how we win in 2024.
Joe Daniszewski: What an awesome evening. Let’s have a huge round of applause for Yolanda and Steve.
Mike Bryan: Thank you so much for coming and answering all our questions.
Joe Daniszewski: On behalf of the Democrats of Greater Tucson, thank everyone who participated we had over I think 62 people, which is a nice, healthy program. You answered the questions. I’m as a proud Arizona Democrat.
I’m really proud that you two are running and we’ll work with the winner. Let’s keep doing good things.
So have a great evening. We really appreciate you.
Steve Gallardo: You. Thank you all. Appreciate it. Thank you, Yolanda. Thank you.
Yolanda Bejarano: Thank you.
Joe Daniszewski: We have a winning group of wonderful candidates. Okay I think we’re ready to boogie!
Mike Bryan: We’ll see you next week on Monday at the regular time at noon for Sam Almy. Bye everybody.