I just had an immensely gratifying evening with Ed Ableser who is running State Senate from my legislative district. A few months ago, I spent an evening listening to Jerry Lewis, the person he's running against. Admittedly, I tend to just like people so I'm easily taken by impressive presentation. So, let me preface with this blog with that.
But man, to be honest, this was a really great evening. In attendance was the bishop of my church congregation, the congregation's former high priest group leader, a former young women's president, friends, and few neighbors that dropped by. I was hoping for a bit more of a turnout, but really, I cannot complain.
All in all, I totally enjoyed it. We had smart people asking smart questions and I was really impressed with Ed's answers. He had such a grasp on the issues and knew policy inside and out. He has a really interesting perspective and experience. He's a counselor by trade and talked in detail about his experiences working with people struggling with addictions and other serious problems.
I'm telling you, we had a smart, respectful crowd. The topics range from gay marriage, legalization of marijuana, abortion, Kid's Care, university education funding, foster care and CPS, slum lords, dumb tax loopholes giving incentives to business simply to move from building to building, the list goes on and on.
We talked about the super majority enjoyed by the Republicans in the legislature right now which has inspired completely nutty legislation such as labeling global warming a global conspiracy or worse gutting programs that help people in need. In this election the Democrats have a chance at getting a 15/15 split in the Senate but its contingent on the race in this district. A 15/15 split forces Republicans to compromise. We desperately need balance in this state, Republicans forced to work with Democrats making sure smart legislation is passed to deal with actual problems facing Arizonans.
And there are reasonable Republicans. He talked about how many Republicans in the state and national legislature favor things like the "Dream Act" legislation but SB1070 literally moved immigration reform back years. That bill changed the rhetoric around the issue for the worse. Congressional Republicans and Democrats are closer on this issue than people think, but Republicans can't concede and give Democrats a political victory.
Kid's Care was the biggest no brainer issue for me discussed today. Over the past four years, the state legislature has cut funding to programs that help people even as they've provided give aways to businesses. Kid's Care is health insurance for the poor. Jerry Lewis, to say it bluntly, voted to have its funding cut.
He also defended himself against the attacks from his opponent that claim he's missed a lot of votes. He's been in the legislature a number of years. For most of the years, he's sponsored bills, and has shown up for almost every single vote. Recently, he had his first baby, who graced our home as well :-). He chose to spend more time with wife and baby and missed more votes as a result. However, he made sure he attended the significant ones.
I must say, I think Ed gets a bit carried away on how involved state government should really be in the lives of people. I'm with him for the most part, a couple of times he went a bit farther than I would go. Most notably, he talked about how we should do more proactive mental health screening, which sounds good and I'm not exactly clear on his views on the specifics, but is perhaps a bit more intrusive than I believe.
Anyway, loved the evening and I appreciate Ed for sharing his time with us. I thank Andrew Sherwood and Juan Mendez for their appearances as well. I especially thank my loving wife who worked hard to get our house ready for the evening all while she was busy dealing with our four challenging children.
To find out more about Ed Ableser, check him out here and here.