PHOENIX - On March 7 State Sen. Carlyle W. Begay (R-Ariz.) announced his campaign for U.S. Congress in Arizona Congressional District 1 (CD1).
Begay was raised under the teachings of his ancestry, instilling in him the importance of remembering the story of his people and carrying it on to his descendants.
"I spent my early childhood learning about this area of the state while raising sheep and goats in Long House Valley, where my grandparents' sheep camp is on the Navajo Nation," Begay said. "I was also educated alongside other small town kids in Flagstaff, which was like a big city to me. Growing up in this area of the state shaped my purpose in life."
Begay is a lifetime resident of Arizona and was born and raised on the Navajo Nation near Black Mesa, Arizona, a community within CD1. This congressional district is the 10th largest congressional district geographically in America and is home to more Native Americans than any other district in the U.S. It covers many rural communities in northern and eastern Arizona.
"I don't think you can really understand or appreciate the dynamic of Congressional District 1 without understanding the landscape and the people who inhabit the area," Begay said when describing CD1. "It's a unique makeup of indigenous people, rural ranchers and small town neighbors. Together, we all share a deep connection with the powerful land surrounding us including the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley [and] the Red Rocks of Sedona."
According to Begay's campaign, as a state senator, Begay has made it a priority to be a champion for rural and tribal communities by putting party ideology aside and providing a voice for a legislative district that has long been ignored and overlooked. In the last two and a half years as state senator, he has championed new funding for unpaved school bus routes; expanded new funding for high school students to receive free tuition, fees, books for college level courses; and a new school-choice law opening up the Empowerment Scholarship Account program universally to Native American families living on any of the state's 22 reservations.
"Throughout my career, I've never been afraid to take a stand or make tough decisions," Begay said adding that this is what he hopes to continue to do in Washington.
"I'm running for Congress to continue being a voice, that's finally heard, advocating for our resilient, hard-working communities; to restore state/tribal sovereignty and local control, and also to fight for a smarter, restrained government that is focused on building a 21st century entrepreneurial and empowering economy," he said. "Together, we will be Fighting for Arizona's Future. Simply put, the country is headed in the wrong direction. Many Arizona families are suffering from a lack of opportunities, broken health care systems and a lack of quality jobs or job creation. I care about the many faces and names across CD1 and their future and the future of their communities. Together, we can fight for Arizona's future."
Begay also recognized this future comes with addressing unique issues facing Arizona.
"We are also the target of radical terrorists with Americans fear terrorism every day, and the current administration is leading from behind," Begay said.
On the topic of job creation Begay said businesses and entrepreneurs are burdened by redundant and harmful regulations.
"We are frustrated and we have every right to be because Washington is broken," he said. "If elected, I will fight for all Arizonans with integrity and purpose. I will not give up and will not give in. I make a pledge to continue to look at the merit of our needs and priorities - for their merit - rather than through the prism of the ideologies of our parties."
Begay is the only candidate running in this particular race who is currently serving both as an elected official and raised within CD1. For the past two and a half years, Begay has served as a state senator. Roughly 40 percent of Legislative District 7 overlaps CD1, currently represented by Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.).
Begay is a graduate of the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology and as a student in the Minority Medical Education Program at the University of Arizona's College of Medicine. Begay is married to Candace Begody-Begay, of Ganado, Ariz. and is the son of Walter Begay Jr. of Black Mesa, Arizona and Marty Begay of Teesto/White Cone, Arizona.