By Richard Wiebe
Looking for a change of scenery, nurse practitioner Jan Labate found it in 1975 when she took her Boston accent, upbringing and education (Harvard, Northeastern, UMass, Faulkner Hospital) to Chinle, on the Navajo reservation near Four Corners. Three years later, Jan moved to Tucson, earning her PhD in medical anthropology at the University of Arizona and working in healthcare. She retired at 70.
Jan serves as the Area 1 representative for the West University Neighborhood Association in LD3. “We’re trying to clean up De Anza Park, also known – unfortunately – as ‘Needles Park,’ ” at Speedway and Stone, she says.
Jan doesn’t leave home without voter registration materials.
“I signed up every one of my exercise classmates who hadn’t already registered,” she says. “It’s so important and so easy to vote. There’s no excuse to take a pass on your opportunity to determine your future.”
Stunned by the outcome of the 2016 election, Jan went to party headquarters and offered to sweep floors, wash dishes – anything to help elect Democrats. She’s been at HQ every week since.
“Whining won’t change anything,” she says. “Turning anger into action, will.”
Jan’s father was a “runner” in Boston for the legendary Tip O’Neill, who became the 47th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, so politics is in her DNA.
“I’ve learned a lot about the party and how it works,” Jan says about her HQ job. “I do what needs to be done around the office until someone gives me another job. Volunteers share phone and office duties, and I’ve learned how almost everything works.”
While excited about the future of a Blue Arizona, Jan shares the frustrations of many Americans about President Trump.
“He lies. He’s a liar. How do you follow a leader who lies every time he opens his mouth? He ignores reality, ignores science, ignores experts – even his own advisers. We have a president that’s so off track, capable and principled Republicans won’t work for him. How sad for them and how dangerous for us.”
“On a more positive note,” she adds, “the nation is stronger because of people like [Supreme Court Justice] Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who has been fighting for me and other women committed to equality. She’s my hero.”