By: David Gordon
At the café of choice for meeting public servants and activists, Lolas in Phoenix, the new Executive Director of the Maricopa County Democratic Party, Maritza Miranda Sanez chated and discussed her background as well as how the county party is beginning to prepare for the 2020 elections.
Ms. Saenz has”grown up” in the political arena since she was a small child. Her father was very active in “civil rights, school boards, and supporting unions.” She has worked for her father’s law firm, helping Dreamers being one of her responsibilities. She has also held the position of chairing the Latino Outreach Committee for the Maricopa County Democrats and as Vice Chair of Legislative District 27. She ran for the LD 27 State Senate Democratic Nomination in 2016.
Believing it is the job of public servants to “make (people) care (by) making things personable (and)..help them understand how politics affects them,” Ms. Saenz pledged upon assuming the Executive Director position that “I do not take on this new opportunity lightly, and I know how privileged I am to work for and with the thousands of donors, volunteers, board members, candidates, activists, and community organizations that make up our incredible Democratic Party in Maricopa County. I look forward to making you as proud as I am to be a Democrat in Arizona.”
Below are Ms. Saenz’s responses to the questions asked during the interview.
1) What are the major goals you and the Maricopa County Democratic Party have for achieving in 2019?
“1) Buiding relationships across party and community partners
2) Building our electorate. making sure PC’s are ready to register new voters
3) Building a volunteer base and increasing from the 2018 levels.
4) Building our bench from school board to sheriff (with more Democrats that are running, the better the opportunities (for electoral pickups))
5) Building our bank account.”
2) With regards to voter turnout. please describe how you will build on the turnout from 2018?
“ By having more Democrats run for office, increasing our volunteer base, (ensuring that) low turnout democrats are talked to. We need to also tie into Trump and his supporters (in the state.)”
3) With regards to candidate recruitment for 2020, please describe the progress in that process at the congressional and LD Level. Have all the ones who did not fare well been asked to run again? Are there new individuals you are working with the LD’s to actively recruit and, if so, who and where?
“ The candidates have to come from the LD’s and they pick them. They need to take full ownership from the school board to the LD level. They could also partner with the ADLCC if they need assistance. We need to understand that all politics starts at the local level with the school board and go up. We are expecting the same congressional candidates (Hiral Tipirneni, Anita Malik, and Joan Greene). However, the county focus is also on county offices (Treasurer, Sheriff, School Superintendent, Maricopa Community College).”
4) At this time, what are the names of the top legislative districts that you forecast going all blue or in part blue in 2020?
“ LD 28 ( we want Christine Porter Marsh to run again,) 23 ( with Eric Kurland), 20 (with a single shot candidate for the House seat), and 17 (with Jennifer Pawlik’s support).”
5) Please assess the impact of the Democrats so far during this legislative session and the work being done by Secretary of State Hobbs and Superintendent Hoffman.
“Also (remember the contributions of) Commissioner Sandra Kennedy, Adrian Fontes, and Paul Penzione. (They) have had to clean up their predecessors’ messes as well as advancing agenda. The new LD’s (Jennifer Jermaine, Jennifer Pawlik, and Aaron Liberman) have been doing great and making strides. House Minority Leader Fernandez is a good advocate for her house members.”
Executive Director Saenz finished by stating that “This is the time to get involved and get over whatever stops you from volunteering. We have candidates from all stripes that would be good for the Democratic Party (and the county.) We are looking forward to the national trends of women and people of color running for office. We support every single candidate that is running and wants to work hard and raise money and speak to our values.”
With Republicans not learning the lessons of the 2018 elections and deciding to continue pursuing their turn back the clock reactionary agenda, it is very important, as Ms. Saenz stated, to not lose sight of the fact, that the job of electing candidates that embrace a forward-looking agenda is not over and help, as well as quality candidates, is still needed to prepare for 2020 and beyond.
For more information on the Maricopa County Democrat and what they are doing to prepare for 2020, please visit their website and Facebook pages.