Q & A with candidate Art Babbott running for State Representative in District 6
Editors note: Republicans Brenda Barton and Walt Blackman, Independent Art Babbott and Democrat Coral Evans are running for two State Representative seats for District 6. Here, candidates respond to questions about top issues facing Native populations, education and the economy. Candidates were asked to give a 100-word response to the same questions. Candidate Brenda Barton did not respond in time to meet the deadline for the Q & A.
I am running as an Independent because divisive party politics are not solving Arizona’s problems. As a small business owner with 15 years in local elected office, I’ve learned the best way to solve problems is to build trusted community relationships and listen to what everyone has to say.
What are your top three issues and how will they impact Native Americans in District 6?
Invest in Education —excellence in education is where opportunity begins for tribal and rural communities. It cultivates student's personal responsibility, and prepares our children for the social, economic and technological challenges of the future.
Support Economic Recovery — Our state and tribal communities cannot prosper without thriving small businesses. Government should create a level playing field where all businesses and taxpayers are playing by the same set of rules.
Get Big Money out of Politics — To often, legislators answer to the political parties or special interests that put them in office. They should be representing their communities first.
If you are elected, what will you do for the Native Americans in the district?
One of the biggest challenges is making sure high quality pre-K and K-12 education is available to all families and communities. High quality education builds safe communities, strong economies and a passion for learning. I will advocate for and support community colleges, technical schools and certificate programs. Making sure all our communities have access to high speed internet is critical for education, our economy and rural health care.
How do you feel about Invest in Ed on the ballot? What would you do for public schools and Native American students in the district?
I will support Proposition 208. Teachers are the foundation to a high quality educational system. Their pay is too low and vacancy rates are too high. Our students, economies and communities suffer when we are close to last in the nation year after year in investment in education. Arizona’s educational system and economy would benefit from high quality preschool opportunities, especially in rural and native communities. Strong pre-K is a wise investment for Arizona’s future.
District 6 is a swing district which may result in Republicans or Democrats controlling the legislature. Why is this important and how would it impact you and Native Americans?
Our politics is broken. We have confused partisan grenade-lobbing for problem solving in Arizona. Good ideas don’t come from just one party or perspective. As an Independent in a closely divided House, I will have a unique opportunity to bridge the divide between parties and get work done on issues important to native populations like education and job creation. I am a problem solver. If you want politics done differently in Arizona, send someone different to do it.
If elected, how can you help those in the district who are suffering financially due to the pandemic?
Economic recovery is a critical piece of how we respond to Covid. As a small business owner, I understand the bottom line fiscal issues that impact our small business and communities. Too often it is the little guy who gets the short end of the stick. Economic development, expanding high speed internet, and access to capital must be available to all if our economies have a chance at rebuilding. I will be a champion for small businesses and local economies as we come out of the stranglehold of Covid-19.
With 15 years in local government in Coconino County, I have long standing relationships with tribal communities. I bring a strong work ethic, respectful relationships and a fundamental belief we should all play by the same set of rules regardless of access to money, power or political influence.