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Meet the Candidates: Raul Grijalva - Congressional District 3
The Yuma Sun is spotlighting the candidates ahead of the Nov. 6 general election. Raul Grijalva, Gabriela Saucedo Mercer and Blanca Guerra are the candidates running for U.S. House of Representatives, District 3. Saucedo Mercer did not respond to multiple requests to fill out the questionnaire. Check out past editions of Meet the Candidates online at www.YumaSun.com/Elections.
Name: Raúl M. Grijalva
Office running for: House of Representatives, District 3
Family: Wife Ramona, daughters Adelita, Raquel and Marisa
Education: Bachelor of arts in sociology, University of Arizona
Employment: Member of Congress
To what organizations do you belong? Congressional Progressive Caucus, the Progressive Democrats of America advisory board, ProgressiveCongress.org board, Committee for Hispanic Causes-BOLD PAC, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, Progressive Action PAC, multiple congressional groups and caucuses
What in your past experiences helps qualify you for this seat? I've served the public and been engaged with the southern Arizona community for my entire professional career. I graduated from the University of Arizona and served as a Tucson Unified School District board member, a Pima County supervisor, the head of El Pueblo Neighborhood Center and the UA assistant dean for Hispanic student affairs. I understand the people and the economy of southern Arizona. My family, my history and my life experiences have given me the background and knowledge I need to do the job.
If elected, what is the one issue on which you would focus to improve Yuma's quality of life? How? Jobs. I've introduced a bill to expand our ports of entry and increase commerce and economic opportunities border wide, and with a Democratic majority in the House I'll continue to build support for it. Our international border should be a gateway to a stronger economy, not a roadblock or a source of conflict. I've been a major supporter of federally guaranteed Recovery Act loans to Abengoa Solar and First Solar that have created hundreds of jobs, and I'm going to keep finding opportunities to promote federal assistance to Arizona to create jobs in growing economic sectors.
What do you think is the biggest challenge right now facing Yumans, and how would you change it? Certainly the ongoing unemployment crisis in the south county. Conservatives will tell you it's the government's fault and everything would be fine if Congress was gridlocked and no one in Washington did anything about it. I believe in taking an active and positive role as your representative, and that's why I've held small business workshops, social media training for entrepreneurs and job fairs in western Arizona throughout this Congress. I'm going to continue taking constituent advice about how best to improve the economy, as I did on a listening tour before I wrote and introduced the Border Infrastructure and Jobs Act. There's no silver bullet — it's going to take a lot of hard work and a new Congress that believes in helping rather than sitting back. I'm ready for that Congress.
What would you do to make government more accessible? A big part of a transparent government is transparency in campaign financing. I co-sponsor the DISCLOSE Act, which would fix the terrible Citizens United Supreme Court ruling that allowed millions of dollars in untraceable corporate money to influence our elections. I recently wrote to the National Federation of Independent Business asking the group to disclose why it suddenly got 10 seven-figure donations from unnamed donors right before it launched its failed lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act. When they refused to answer, I wrote to the IRS. We can't have a transparent government if we don't know who's paying for the ads our opponents run against us and who's trying to buy someone's seat in Congress. In addition to my work on transparency, I post my letters to federal agencies and the responses I get on my website. I think other offices should do the same. The government should be proactive in making our work more public, open and understandable.
Who is your personal hero, and why? Robert Kennedy, on many levels. His vision and his love for this country, and his care and compassion for all Americans, were an inspiration to me from a very young age. He is a personal hero whose life and contributions to this nation's welfare were cut short far too soon.