Meet the Candidate: Richard Carmona - U.S. Senate
The Yuma Sun is spotlighting the candidates ahead of the Nov. 6 general election. Jeff Flake and Robert Carmona are the two candidates facing off for the U.S. Senate seat.
Name: Dr. Richard H. Carmona
Office running for: U.S. Senate
Family: Married for 40 years to wife Diane; 4 children
Education: Bronx Community College of the City University of New Yorkâ€¨associate's degree, 1973; University of California San Francisco bachelor's degree in biology and chemistry, 1976, and medical degree, 1979; University of Arizona master's degree in public health, 1998
Employment: Vice Chairman, Canyon Ranch, 2006-present; President, Canyon Ranch Institute, 2006-present; Surgeon and Deputy Sheriff, Pima County Sheriff's Department, 1986-2002, 2006-present; Distinguished Professor of Public Health, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, University of Arizona, 2006-present
To what organizations do you belong?
At various times in my career, I have been an active member of many boards and committees, including: American Red Cross, Board of Directors; American Heart Association - Arizona Affiliate, Surgical Consultant, Board of Directors; Pima County Emergency Planning Committee, Chairman; Governor's Hispanic Advisory Committee (Gov. Jane Hull); State of Arizona Medicaid (AHCCCS), Advisory Board; Southern Arizona Child Advocacy Center, Board of Directors; Tucson Airport Authority, EMS Medical Director; Rural Metro Corporation, Medical Director; Regional EMS Council State of Arizona, Chairman; Arizona Medical Association, Board of Directors; National Domestic Preparedness Office, Advisory Board; National Tactical Officer's Association, Board of Directors, Emeritus; National Foundation For Infectious Diseases, National Chair; Partnership To Fight Chronic Disease, National Chair; â€¨Stop Obesity Alliance, National Chair; Childhood Influenza Immunization Coalition, National Chair; Department of Defense, Health Policy Board; National Hispanic Medical Association, Board of Advisors; University of Arizona, Department of Surgery, Board of Directors; and the Vascular Disease Foundation, Board of Directors.
What in your past experiences helps qualify you for this seat?
I was born to a poor family. I experienced homelessness, hunger and bleak prospects for a future education and economic opportunity. I learned tough early lessons that I've never forgotten, about economic disparities and social injustice — and that has given me an understanding of how culture, health, education and economic status shape our country. Like my siblings and friends, I dropped out of high school. But serving in the Army changed my life by providing me with the opportunity to get an education. So I learned early on that a lot of people who may not look like they have much potential have the ability to become successful if given a chance. Now, I'm running to make sure that each kid growing up today will get their shot at the American Dream. I'm worried that the ability to come from nothing, work hard, get an education and be successful is becoming tougher for kids today as college becomes more expensive and jobs for our young people are disappearing.
If elected, what is the one issue on which you would focus to improve Yuma's quality of life? How?
Yuma is facing a lot of issues, but we won't be able to get anything done until we bring civility and compromise to our political process. Yumans need jobs, economic opportunities, infrastructure and a comprehensive solution to our immigration problem. The federal government has failed Arizona when it comes to immigration. Washington has failed to secure the border and failed to provide reasonable solutions for those already here. Our immigration problems are complex, but the solutions are simple: secure the border, develop a pathway to earned legal status and enact the DREAM Act. Leadership on this issue takes courage, but it also requires politicians to stop using immigration as a wedge issue to score political points.
What do you think is the biggest challenge right now facing Yumans, and how would you change it?
Even as some parts of the nation begin to recover, Yuma is struggling to attract new jobs. Like much of the rest of Arizona, Yuma needs economic opportunities. A significant number of veterans live in and around Yuma, and sadly, nearly a third of the young veterans returning home from combat are unemployed. We owe it to them to provide opportunities to get an education and secure good jobs. Congressman Jeff Flake has voted against health, education and jobs training benefits for our veterans. He even opposed the post-9/11 GI Bill. I used the GI Bill to go to college and medical school, and know how critical it is for our country's infrastructure of opportunity.
What would you do to make government more accessible?
As your representative, my first responsibility is to make sure the federal government is responsive to you. Arizona residents deserve to receive timely assistance in answering questions, finding resources and solving problems. I'll also be responsive to Arizona's businesses community. I will work with Arizona's businesses to create an environment where they can grow and create jobs.
Who is your personal hero, and why?
My mom didn't have an education, but she spent a lot of time in the library and made sure we did too. She spoke in Spanglish. And when I was young, I remember her telling me, “Rich, get an education. It will set you free. You can be anything you want if you get an education.” I didn't listen to her right away, like my dad and my siblings I dropped out of high school. But I got a second chance after serving in the Army and got to go to college and medical school on the GI Bill. Turns out, she was right.