Updated: Apr 20, 2022
Arizona Democrat Candidate for Governor Talks with the Pinewood News
Munds Park, meet Katie Hobbs, an Arizona native who wants to be your next governor. Katie was a social worker and later the chief compliance officer for one of the largest domestic abuse shelters in the country. Through her work at the shelter, Katie became frustrated with ineffective government and disheartened by leaders failing to help those in need. So she decided to roll up her sleeves and get involved.
Katie’s political career:
• Arizona Secretary of State (2019-present)
• Minority Leader of the Arizona State Senate (2015-2019)
• Arizona Senate 24th District (2013-2019)
• Arizona Representative 15th district (2011-2013)
Below is our interview with Katie discussing issues important to Arizonans. Read what she has to say, and see what you think.
Top 3 Issues
Q. Katie, in your opinion, what are the top three issues facing Arizona?
A. What I’m hearing from Arizonans is they are worried about the affordability of living here, so the economy, jobs, and education.
Q. You were our senator for three terms. During your time as our senator, what legislative actions did you take that benefited Arizonans the most?
A. My first year in the Senate, I was pleasantly surprised when the Republican governor announced that expanding Medicaid through the provisions of the Affordable Care Act was going to be her top priority. We worked with her to get that done. It required the full support of the Democratic caucus, as well as a group of Republicans that were willing to buck their party. Republicans were often criticized by their party for supporting Medicaid expansion. Arizona was the first red state to do that, and it provided healthcare for hundreds of thousands of Arizonans. In addition to that fundamental benefit for people, it was an economic driver in terms of keeping rural hospitals open that were burdened with uncompensated care. So, it was a really important thing. I’m also really proud of working with Governor Ducey to help end the backlog of untested rape kits in this state.
On The Border
Q. Katie, do you think our border is secure?
A. You know, the border has been an issue for decades and it’s often been a political football, unfortunately. We need comprehensive immigration reform, number one. And we do need more resources at the border to make sure it’s secure. We’re seeing that Mexico is the number one source for Fentanyl in the United States, and the Homeland Security Secretary himself has said that the border patrol is asking for more support. So, there is a need for more resources, but congress needs to act to get that done, and as governor, I’ll certainly work with our congressional delegation to make sure that they are pushing for policies that are going to address the needs of keeping Arizonans secure and safe.
Q. So you see it as a federal issue and not an issue that you can handle as governor?
A. Well, I think that certainly the governor of Arizona shouldn’t act unilaterally on this issue. When I see that being done, it’s really more for political theater and not addressing the real issues. Governor Ducey has sent the National Guard there. That’s something that’s in the toolbox of the Governor. It needs to be in coordination with law enforcement that’s at the border and helping address the needs that exist there.
Q. What is your opinion about people entering our country illegally and claiming “credible fear” so they are released into the U.S. with a court date, and they don’t appear in court.
A. Well, again, that points to the need for comprehensive immigration reform. Immigration is such a complex issue, and there are so many different categories of support available to people seeking to be in the United States. And I think we need to, number one, simplify the rules, so that people aren’t caught up in endless court where they sometimes don’t show up. And again, that takes an act of congress to do.
Q. Arizona spends $10,000 per student, about $5,700 less than the national average. The unions and some politicians argue that we need to spend more on education—That money is the answer. However, private and charter schools are educating their students for less, and they are doing an exceptional job.
If money isn’t the primary factor, what do you think is?
A. Well, funding is certainly an issue, and what we’re doing is starving the district public schools, which are really the foundation of our education system and the true equalizer of education of all of our students. We are starving public schools.
Q. What does that mean?
A. Diverting resources to charter schools that aren’t accountable to the same rules—even though they’re public schools—they’re not accountable to the same rules that public schools are. And so, if we really want to talk about creating opportunity for every student in the state through education, then we really need to invest in those district schools and put the resources where they’re most needed. Poverty is the largest indicator of educational achievement among students. We are taking resources away from the schools that need it most.
Arizona has been a laboratory for school choice, but that school choice, while important, is not equal. A student whose parents have to work two and three jobs, or perhaps even a single mom or dad that has to work two and three jobs to keep a roof over their head and food on the table, doesn’t have the same access to school choice that other students who have different advantages have. Every student should be able to attend their neighborhood school and have the same opportunities that every other student in the state has.
Q. Property taxes fund our schools, so it makes sense that our struggling neighborhoods don’t have a lot of funding for education. Do you have a plan for that?
A. I think that we should look at the funding formula. It’s pretty out of date. Something that would help address the opportunity issue is adding a poverty weight to the funding formula. Still, I think that education funding has become a political football. Instead of looking at real issues, our elected leaders are just doing what they think is going to be the most popular. If we are short-changing our students now, we’re short-changing the future of our state.
Q. How can the State support and increase the number of trade schools to meet the ever-increasing need for skilled labor?
A. When we talk about economic growth and ensuring that we have quality jobs that allow Arizonans to afford to live here, we can’t disconnect that conversation from the education conversation. We have to get students in the pipeline for quality, high-paying jobs, whether it’s a four-year degree or getting them into trade or apprenticeship or certificate programs that allow them to get into those high-paying jobs with whatever the qualifications needed. Certainly, we need to be working in partnership with our education leaders and the job creators to make sure that we have those programs in place that create the workforce they need and allow Arizonans to have those high-quality, high-paying jobs.
Q. Arizona is growing fast, especially with the mass exodus from states like California. How will you balance growth while protecting our resources?
A. That is absolutely a really multi-faceted issue. Our investment and focus on long-term planning has been what has sustained us so far as this great state is in the middle of a desert. The Central Arizona Project is a great example of that. The investment in the planning of the economic investment to make sure that we secured water for the future of this state was critical and a prime example of how we’ve done this before. That involves a lot of strategic foresight from our leaders. That’s the kind of strategy and planning we need to engage in as we face an affordability and water crisis to ensure we’re continuing to thrive as a state and a place where everyone can continue to enjoy the quality of life and be the best place in the country to live, work and raise a family.
On The Homeless
Q. Most of our homeless are mentally ill or addicted to drugs and alcohol. Generally speaking, they are not people who are temporarily displaced. They need care. They also need off the streets.
I know this is a complex issue, but how do you begin to solve this problem?
A. I’m a social worker. This is something that I’ve dealt with first hand. I was in the administration of one of the largest domestic violence shelters in the country, which overlaps the homelessness issue a lot. This is not a new problem, but we are seeing it in bigger numbers than we’ve seen in a long time across the state. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to addressing the issue.
Many of the people on the streets chronically are dealing with a multitude of issues, complex issues that aren’t easy to address—serious mental illness on top of addiction and years of life on the streets that have impacted their health. We have a huge lack of resources for treatment and support for these folks. I think we tend to leave the addressing of housing issues to the cities, and the cities need more flexibility to provide affordable housing that meets the needs of their populations, not just affordable housing, but services and support to keep people housed.
I know it’s an issue in Phoenix, but in areas like Munds Park, having affordable housing for the workforce for service industry jobs is difficult to find. I know when I talked to the mayor of Flagstaff, he said that housing affordability was driving the workforce shortage issues that they’re facing. It’s a very multi-faceted issue. We’re seeing a lot of new homeless in that area because of these chronic issues that I talked about, but more just because they’re being priced out of housing. Rents in Phoenix have increased 26% over the last year. That’s astronomical.
Q. I am a Phoenix native. I’ve only been up North for a couple of years, and when I visit Phoenix, I can see a significant increase in the number of homeless on the streets. People waiting for buses can’t even sit on the bus bench because it’s overtaken by trash or someone is sleeping on it.
We don’t want a homeless crisis like California. So how do you support not only people in need but also the taxpayers who wish to enter a business without someone hitting them up for money, enjoy our parks, or even simply sit on a clean bus bench?
A. We’ve done a number of things to try to provide a one-stop shop for people on the street. When I drive home from the capitol, I can’t miss the huge encampment that’s right there on Jefferson that’s near the Human Services campus, which is where a lot of the services are located. Now when I drive home from this office, there’s an encampment right down the street in front of a building. I know that some people see that and their first response is fear. Mine is sadness. How are we failing the people of Arizona so much that this is where they are? Again, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. I think it’s figuring out what the needs are and then what services we can put in place to address those needs. Is it because they just got priced out of housing, and how do we make housing more affordable? Is it that they have these chronic needs that we’re not providing services for, and those services would help them? It’s part of my focus on making Arizona work for everyone. Clearly, it’s not working for people that are on the street.
On Gun Rights
Q. Do you believe in the right to keep and bear arms?
Q. What gun regulations do you support?
A. One of the most frustrating things about my time in elected office is the lack of coming together to pass things that most people accept as common-sense regulation, like universal background checks and the mental health red flag laws. I was elected and sworn into office two days after the shooting in Safeway that harmed Congresswoman Gifford, killed my friend and five other people. That was an opportunity to say look, we don’t need magazines with this large of a capacity. I think that’s a restriction that most people agree is common sense that would limit damage in situations like that. People don’t need assault rifles. I think that even the majority of gun owners support this kind of common sense regulation. It’s very frustrating. That was 11 years ago. I was sworn in in 2011, so 11 years ago. We haven’t done anything. Arizona is absolutely a 2nd Amendment state, and I support that. I think most of those owners of firearms support reasonable regulation.
On Reproductive Rights
Q. You are pro-choice. Is there any instance that you would restrict abortions?
A. I think that medical decision is a very private and personal decision between a woman and her doctor. In any case where it was considered extreme, it’s because of the life of the mother, and that is probably the most difficult decision that she and her family have ever had to make. I think the government needs to stay out of that decision.
On Election Laws
Q. I read through your website, and you talked about the big lie. What is the big lie?
A. The big lie is the former president’s assertion that he won the election and that Biden is not the legitimate president of the United States. None of that is based on any real evidence. Despite the continued court challenges thrown out because of lack of evidence and continued evidence to the contrary, he continues to assert this. It continues to undermine the public’s trust and confidence in our election systems. I think that’s exactly what it’s designed to do.
Q. There are concerns that our elections can be hacked. Is this a real possibility?
A. Election systems can’t be hacked. They’re not connected to the Internet. Anyone who says otherwise just doesn’t know what they’re talking about, and they’re refusing to believe the information that election officials are providing. As Secretary of State, my office did a lot of work leading up to the 2020 election—knowing there’d be false information out there—to provide transparency into the processes on how things work and everything we do to keep elections secure, including not connecting voting machines to the Internet.
When data is being transferred to the central election system, that computer is a stand-alone system. Every thumb drive is a brand new thumb drive. All of the information that says otherwise is not real information. It’s flat-out lies.
Q. So you’re saying the machines people vote on are not connected to the Internet, and when it is connected, it’s only to one machine; is that right?
A. Every county has an EMS computer, an Election Management System computer, that is stand-alone. It’s not connected to any external network in the county or anywhere else. Data is transferred from a tabulator to that system via a thumb drive that’s never been used before and never will be used again, so it can’t be corrupted in that way. That system is a stand-alone system and is not connected to the Internet.
Q. How do you feel about ballot harvesting and requiring identification on all ballots, including mail-in ballots?
A. Arizona has voter ID for all ballots, including mail-in ballots.
Q. It does? The only reason I’m questioning you is that your opponents are saying they want a valid ID on all ballots, including mail-in ballots.
A. Misinformation. If you are a mail-in voter, if you vote by mail, your identity is verified by your signature. There is a lot of misinformation out there about how that signature verification process happens, but it is a rigorous process that people are trained for. So there is voter ID on mail-in ballots. Arizona has had no-excuse, mail-in voting for decades, before it was utilized by a lot of other states, so we have had the chance to implement and hone systems that work and prevent fraud and make it a very secure and user-friendly system for our voters. We have laws in place that require ID at the polls and those laws are adequate. They work. We have very few cases of prosecuted voter fraud in this state, and what that says to me is that the systems we have in place are working in both preventing and catching voter fraud when it occurs.
On the Economy
Q. On the economy, we are experiencing a 40-year high in inflation, and gas and food prices continue to rise. As governor, what can you do to help Arizonans keep more money in their pocketbook?
A. I don’t have a magic wand that changes inflation, and the truth is that the economic recovery that we’re experiencing in the country is the fastest recovery we’ve had in decades. But, I know Arizonans are feeling it in their pocketbooks when they pump gas, when they buy groceries and other goods. We’re putting together an economic relief fund that we’ll be releasing shortly that addresses some of those really bread-and-butter issues of how to make things more affordable in Arizona. That’s the most specific I can get about that right now, but there are tools we have. Obviously, I can’t change inflation, but we can do things to help people in their pocketbooks where it matters.
Q. Why should Arizonans vote for you?
A. I am a battle-tested, statewide leader with a track record of delivering results for Arizonans, both in the legislature—the things I described with Medicaid expansion, with ending the backlog of untested rape kits—and as the Democratic leader in the Senate, and as Secretary of State getting into an office that was completely mismanaged, fixing broken systems, streamlining operations, making the office more accountable to Arizonans and overseeing the most secure election with historic participation in our state’s history. That’s the kind of results that Arizonans will see from me as governor, and I’m ready to tackle the issues that matter, to make Arizona the best place for all Arizonans to live, work and raise a family.
For more about Katie's vision for Arizona, please visit here.