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Arizona Daily Star:

Arizonans, and Tucsonans, agree on what's needed for stronger, brighter future

Posted on July 24, 2021 • Category: Op-Ed
By Sybil Francis, President & CEO, Center for the Future of Arizona

Arizona Daily Star

Arizonans agree on more than we disagree.

Given our nation and state’s political polarization, you might not expect to hear that Arizonans agree on fundamental issues that shape and impact our lives and futures.

But that’s what we learned when the Center for the Future of Arizona partnered with Gallup to ask Arizonans their thoughts about the future. We found that Arizonans — from rural and urban communities, of all ages, incomes, races and ethnicities, even political affiliations – largely agree on what is needed to create a stronger and brighter future for our state.

Sybil Francis

Tucsonans mostly agree with their neighbors across the state, though with a few exceptions. More on that below.

The Gallup survey of more than 3,500 Arizonans identified seven shared public values with support from at least 70% of respondents. These are the core of The Arizona We Want:

A highly educated and skilled population

Affordable health care that covers pre-existing conditions and provides accessible mental health services

Good-paying jobs and the education and training needed for all Arizonans to fully participate in a vibrant economy

Sustainable practices that protect our air, land and water and support a high quality of life for all

Civic engagement that solves problems and democracy that works for all

Fair, just, and equal treatment of all people

Comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship, including for “DREAMers”

Seven of every 10 Arizonans — and 60% of Tucsonans — said they’re proud to live here, but fewer than half see the state headed in the right direction. Only 37% of Arizonans believe our elected leaders think long term or work across the aisle to solve problems.

Our survey also found agreement on 42 specific actions we all can drive to create the change Arizonans want, including closing the gaps in educational outcomes, reducing financial barriers to attending college, reforming the criminal justice system and making the transition to clean energy.

This is a call to action.

So are the results specific to Pima County.

Tucson residents are unhappy with the quality of city streets. The number saying they are good or excellent is 28 points lower than for the state as a whole. They also said Tucson is unwalkable — but they are more likely than Arizonans elsewhere to give a thumbs up to the availability of bike lanes.

Tucson residents are 11 points less satisfied with opportunities to grow in their careers and believe hard work is not rewarded.

This supports the Tucson Metro Chamber’s focus on workforce development, including its new Workforce Blueprint. The Center for the Future of Arizona is proud to be partnering with the chamber on a career literacy initiative to familiarize students in Pima County classrooms with high-quality careers. Providing young people with rich educational opportunities is a key to building the economy we want.

Immigration enforcement measures are unpopular — only 30% support the border wall, for instance, compared to 44% statewide. Tucsonans are in agreement with the 86% statewide who favor a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Tucsonans are six points more satisfied with the quality of their health care.

The Tucson results, like those for the state as a whole, reflect a populace that wants more for our state. How can you help make this happen?

You, your organization or community can take the survey at arizonafuture.org and compare your responses with those of other Arizonans. Use the findings and the 42 steps to bring the change Arizonans want.

It is up to us to make change happen, to look to each other, our communities, and our elected leaders to rebuild trust based on our shared public values and to hold each other accountable for our actions.

We all have a role in achieving the Arizona we want. Let’s start working together today to create a stronger and brighter future for all.

 

Sybil Francis is president & CEO of the Center for the Future of Arizona, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that brings Arizonans together to create a stronger and brighter future for our state.