FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Election night was electrifying for hundreds of Democrats gathered at the Orpheum Theater as they cheered on the victories of Barack Obama as president-elect, Ann Kirkpatrick as new congresswoman-elect for District 1 and the victories of other Democrats throughout the country.
Kirkpatrick handily defeated Republican Sydney Hay and two other candidates to win the Arizona District 1 Congressional seat presently held by Republican Rick Renzi. District 1 includes the Navajo Nation, Flagstaff and Prescott.
Kirkpatrick, who represented Navajo and Hopi in the state legislature, said the Native American vote was "huge" in helping her gain the victory. The district has the largest percentage of Native American voters in America at about 22 percent.
Kirkpatrick said one of her main priorities is education as she wants to assure that reservation schools continue to get impact aid.
"The Indian Education Act needs teeth," she said.
Kirkpatrick wants the act used to preserve Native American languages and culture.
Kirkpatrick continues to support funding for infrastructure on the reservations in order to help with economic development. Infrastructure includes roads, bridges, strengthening earthen dams and making sure Internet and cell phone service are available.
Kirkpatrick supports alternative energy such as solar and wind power. She said a comprehensive energy policy is needed in order to obtain energy independence and create jobs.
Kirkpatrick spoke to the large and festive crowd about the poor economy in the district with layoffs just being announced in Snowflake. She spoke about the high gas prices and how families have to budget exactly how much they were going to spend in every area including health care.
"Our economy is in crisis. Arizonans are struggling to keep up with day to day costs like rising gas and grocery prices and unaffordable health care," she said.
She said Washington politicians have cared more about corporate lobbyists than about working families.
To help, she will propose tax cuts for middle class families.
"Washington is in desperate need of change and voters clearly recognize that. I am proud to stand before you tonight and say that we have taken a giant step towards making that change a reality," she said.
Kirkpatrick said she looks forward to working with President-elect Obama, but she will always put Arizona first regardless of party politics.
"We need to set aside partisanship to change D.C.," she said.
Kirkpatrick said she will fight for Arizona's working families and her door will always be open.
"Working together we can change together," she said.
Kirkpatrick was born and raised in the White Mountains. She has served as state legislator, county prosecutor, educator, small business owner and community leader.
In the state legislature, she focused on tax cuts for middle class families, keeping ingredients for meth out of the hands of drug dealers, increasing teacher pay and expanding tax credits for solar energy.
During the congressional race, Kirkpatrick was supported by Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr., former Navajo Nation President Peterson Zah, White Mountain Apache Chairman Ronnie Lupe and San Carlos Apache Chairman Wendsler Nosie.
She is the fourth woman in Arizona to be elected to congress.
Other election news
Arizona State Rep. Tom Chabin ran unopposed in state legislative District 2, but was attending to cheer his fellow Democrats on. He represents the district in the state legislature that includes the Hopi and Navajo areas.
Chabin said his priority will be to make sure that public education and public health sources do not suffer cuts since the state is in a $1 billion deficit and will be looking to save money wherever it can.
Chabin also wants to preserve funding for Department of Economic Security services and for Dineh College.
"I will petition Congress for the next stimulus funding so people don't get hurt by budget cuts," he said.
Chabin sits on a state legislative committee, along with Arizona State Sen. Albert Hale, that is looking to bring more state funding into the reservation.
"They should receive their fair share of the funding just like states and cities," he said.