My story is the quintessential American story. My journey is your journey.
I was born and raised in Arkansas, the youngest of four girls raised by a single parent.
My mom worked two or three jobs to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. I
remember her always being tired, so tired. But even three jobs were not enough to afford
health insurance, so my mother lived in constant fear, knowing we were one ER visit or
serious illness away from being homeless.
We existed in the margins.
We lived in that space in-between filled with people who can barely scrape by, yet do not qualify for any public assistance. That place where’s there’s no safety net, where you are just one minor disaster away from losing everything. Where the American Dream seems more like a fantasy.
Perhaps some of you live in that place or maybe even visited there before.
I grew up in the 70s when domestic violence laws were new and rarely enforced. A time before child support enforcement even existed. When my mother couldn’t get law enforcement to serve the child support judgment she had against my father, she decided to join the sheriff’s department and ended up serving him herself. Not content to stop there, she went on to successfully advocate for the creation of Arkansas’ child support enforcement agency so no other parent would be in her position. Everyone around her told her women just didn’t DO things like this.
And yet she persisted.
It was with this strong woman by my side that I first visited Arizona. I became mesmerized by its people, its beauty, its culture. Truly in love with Arizona, I made it my home in 1998.
Our desert paradise shook with fear and desperate sadness when terrorists attacked our country three years later on a beautiful September morning. Like my neighbors I was scared, I was angry, and above all I was motivated to do whatever I could to help. I became an advocate. As a Muslim, I spoke out when Islamophobia reared its ugly head.
As an American, I spoke out when our civil liberties were threatened. As a human I spoke out when violence was wielded against the innocent. They told me I shouldn’t speak out, that I should keep my head down, and stay safe. That I couldn’t possibly affect change.
But I am my mother’s daughter.
I worked to defend and promote the rights of minorities, immigrants, the LGBT community, and the impoverished.I fought for the people existing in the margins.
After 15 years as a civil rights and social justice advocate, I went to law school, passed the bar, and opened my own law firm.
Over the past year I have witnessed new lines being drawn in the sand. Political disagreements, which used to be marked by healthy debate and efforts at compromise, were becoming increasing vitriolic. As a result, people I loved and worked with were being attacked merely for their identities. African-Americans, the LGBT community, Latinos, Muslims, Jews, women, immigrants and working families were left reeling as America seemed to forget its promise that “all men are created equal.”
I realized that whatever happened in the presidential election, I needed to be part of the movement to unite our country moving forward. So I began reconnecting with many of my friends and colleagues in social justice and other fields. I started making new friends. In October, I closed my law firm and my consulting business. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I knew I was going to dedicate all my time to changing the landscape, to changing the conversations. Some colleagues even began suggesting I should run for office.
And I started thinking, ‘why not?’ Because I realized, you and I want the same things:
We want elected leaders who understand and embrace our diversity.
We want elected leaders who listen to our concerns and perspectives.
We want elected leaders who consider all of us when they represent our state.
We want elected leaders who understand basic anatomy, history, sociology, and science.
We want elected leaders who answer to us, and not to corporate interests or Washington lobbyists.
We want to be engaged… and we want elected leaders to engage us.
This journey that I have decided to take on is not just for the people who look like me or sound like me, but for all of Arizona. Because we can’t continue on this backwards path where elected leaders are set on weakening our children’s education, stripping healthcare coverage away from people who need it the most, locking up and breaking up immigrant families and empowering the very same big banks that caused the housing crisis in Arizona.
I’m with the growing majority of Arizonans who know that anger and resistance can only get us so far. We need to unite to move our families forward. We need to speak up to make sure our future is strong, and we need to empower our working families, our youth, veterans, entrepreneurs, and innovators to ensure all of Arizona succeeds.
This isn’t about left or right – it’s about a today and a tomorrow that unites us and gets the work done. I’m ready to have the tough and candid conversations with Arizona voters.
I’m ready to hold our president and his administration accountable, and to challenge those elected officials who are more interested in keeping their jobs than doing their jobs.
I am ready to be your next Senator. I am ready to fight for Arizona, for our shared values, for the American dream.
I am ready to go to Washington.
I will bring the voice of people living in the margins, all the way to the Halls of Power.