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AZ Central: Arizona voters were clear on their priorities. Yet lawmakers continue to ignore them

Most Arizona voters say education, water, housing affordability and homelessness are priorities. Why isn't the Legislature listening?
Posted on April 25, 2023 • Category: Op-EdBy Sybil Francis, President & CEO , Center for the Future of Arizona

If you were hired to do a job with clear expectations but didn’t do the work, would you expect a good performance review or a contract renewal?

Of course not.

Would you run a business that had no interest in customer satisfaction?

Probably not for long.

Why, then, do Arizona’s elected leaders, the men and women voters hired to do the people’s work critical to the success of our state, seem to operate under different rules of engagement?


Voters were clear about what they want

Ten months ago, with the primary election season heating up and attack ads and incendiary rhetoric rampant, the Center for the Future of Arizona shared findings of a survey of likely voters, which clearly showed that Arizonans agree more than they disagree about the issues of most importance for our state.

Scoring partisan points and fueling polarization weren’t among them.

The top issues for Arizonans across demographics and political party affiliation include education, water, housing affordability and homelessness. Here are some highlights from the 2022 Arizona Voters’ Agenda surveys:

  • 97% want policymakers to ensure Arizona’s schools have quality teachers and principals, and 72% strongly support increasing teacher pay.
  • 95% support “securing Arizona’s water future and addressing our long-term drought.”
  • 79% say “Arizona must do more to make sure that housing options are affordable and available to middle- and low-income earners throughout the state.”

Shouldn’t our elected leaders be focused on the issues that matter most to a broad spectrum of Arizonans in all corners of the state, across demographics and political persuasion?


100 days in, our leaders haven't responded

We passed the 100-day mark of the regular session on April 18, yet there is slim evidence that leaders are responding to what matters most to Arizonans.

Unfortunately, the lack of discernible progress on issues important to Arizonans in every corner of the state lives down to the low opinion of public leaders revealed in other CFA surveys, including one that found only 28% of Arizonans believe we have leaders who can lead us into the future.

Other surveys of Arizona voters found that 65% prefer candidates who have clear policy positions and solutions to our state’s needs and voter priorities.

They want leaders who have a plan.

In contrast, only 29% of voters prefer leaders who stick to their ideological positions or party affiliation above all else.

Only 33% believe leaders represent diverse Arizona voters. And only 37% believe they focus on long-term visionary planning for the future.


No wonder so many disapprove of their work

Our new survey, fielded April 4-11 by OH Predictive Analytics, found that only 23% of voters agree that elected leaders in our state are focused on the issues that matter most to them.

And only 25% agree that elected leaders in our state, specifically the Arizona Legislature and governor, are working across party lines to develop solutions to problems that matter most to them.

Why would working together on the things that actually bring us together not be a priority for our elected leaders? Perhaps fomenting polarization and hyperpartisanship are the point for those who found their way to duly elected office on the wings of discord.

There are glimmers of hope, and there are elected leaders who want to collaborate on bipartisan solutions for Arizonans. Yet the partisanship of our system is stacked against them.

Breaking through the current standstill to move forward requires more of our leaders across the aisle to come together for discussion, negotiation and compromise.

Arizonans agree on more than they disagree on the most important issues facing our state and are more united than they are divided about what is important to our state’s future and to achieving the Arizona they want.

All our leaders should join them in finding common ground and doing the work they were hired to do.


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