William Shakespeare said it best, "What's in a name?" Well, if you live in the city of Phoenix and are paying attention to the upcoming city council elections -- there's a lot in a name.
The race for Phoenix's City District 4 has proven to be an exciting race to watch. Respected Councilman Tom Simplot is stepping down from his post, and the competition for his seat is fierce. Two candidates -- Laura Pastor and Justin Johnson -- emerged as the top vote-getters from the primary in August. The race is widely perceived as a dead heat between the two candidates.
Of the nine Council members, three are considered to be staunch conservatives, four consistently vote in a more progressive vein, and two are considered to be moderate or swing votes. District 4 is made up of the liberal urban core, but this election could change the make-up of the council, and drive the agenda into more conservative territory. Justin Johnson is the more conservative choice. He's donated to the ultraconservative Councilman Sal DiCiccio, and has been endorsed by the Tea Party group the Conservative Business League. Laura Pastor, backed by Equality Arizona, Mayor Greg Stanton, and Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema, is clearly the best choice for the district. She represents their values, and would offer a much needed female voice on the Council.
As it currently stands, there is only one woman serving on the Phoenix City Council. That number is shockingly low, and it is high time that City Hall added more women to its ranks. Laura is a wife and mother, with years of experience as a classroom teacher and education advocate. Her experience as a working mom is one that most women can relate to, and give her the experience and determination she'll need to make fair and common sense decisions on the City Council. Her point of view is just what Phoenix needs to move forward. Couple all of this with the blossoming diversity within this urban core, Laura is hailed as one of the most influential Latinas in the city of Phoenix.
Since Pastor and Johnson moved on to the run-off in August, the campaign has gotten ugly, with a slew of mailers, robocalls, and back and forth from both campaigns, as well as several other independent expenditures. The attacks against Laura have been misleading and untrue. In fact, the Arizona Republic recently rated Johson's malicious attacks against Laura's record while sitting on the Maricopa Transportation Advisory Board and Encanto Village Planning Committee to be false.
Despite all the differences between the two candidates, there is one thing they have in common. Both Pastor and Johnson come from political families. Justin Johnson's father, Paul Johnson, served as the Mayor of Phoenix in the 1980s and '90s. Laura's father is Congressman Ed Pastor, who has represented the Phoenix area for more than 20 years. However, despite her famous father, Laura's accomplishments are purely her own, and she has built her reputation as an advocate for neighborhoods and students on her years of community engagement. Her passion for education, small business and community-inclusion is what sets her a part from the competition.
On the Phoenix City Council, Laura Pastor will truly be a force to be reckoned with. We need her leadership and commitment to Phoenix and our values. So, when you think names -- think Laura Pastor.