March was a tough one, in ways I never could have anticipated just a few months ago.
We lost Pima County District 5 Supervisor Richard Elias suddenly, and he leaves a void that will be hard to fill. We are heartbroken for his wife, Emily, and his daughter, Luz, whose lives are turned upside down by this loss. To Emily and Luz, I would like to say that I am so grateful to Richard, who offered advice and input whenever I needed it after I became PCDP Chair. I took him up on his offer many times, and he always answered my call. I will remember him as a fearless advocate for justice. He definitely left his mark on Pima County, in the best possible way.
COVID-19 lingered in the news for weeks, and then overnight, it seemed to change everything about our lives. We are all muddling through this, learning more about pandemics than we ever thought we would need to know. I am sorry to be a wet blanket, but we can expect more frequent pandemics.
According to the World Economic Forum, “With increasing trade, travel, population density, human displacement, migration and deforestation, and climate change, a new era in the risk of epidemics has begun. The number and diversity of epidemic events has been increasing over the past 30 years, a trend that is expected to intensify.”
This pandemic affects everything, including how PCDP engages with voters. We will figure it out. PCDP and our Legislative District Committees are NOT canvassing door-to-door at this time, as it would be irresponsible to do so. We encourage candidates to follow suit. Our headquarters is officially closed, but we are continuing to do the work, meeting regularly through teleconferencing, and reaching out to voters through virtual channels.
Besides the obvious health impacts of COVID-19, our economy is taking a big hit. I have heard potential unemployment numbers of 20%. Unemployment will increase the numbers of uninsured, who will not seek medical attention unless absolutely necessary. And while many of us “shelter in place,” I think of the workers we depend on most like grocery-store clerks, home-health caregivers, and farm laborers. They often do not earn a living wage, do not have health insurance, and do not receive paid sick leave. Too many in our economy are living on the edge, one or two paychecks away from losing everything. Pandemic will push them over the precipice, and $1,200 band-aids will only slightly delay the pain. Perhaps we can learn some lessons before the next pandemic? PCDP is compiling information regarding helpful resources to share with those who are struggling during this time.
All along, we have been doing the work to register more Democrats, and we have been successful. We will continue efforts to make voting easier and more accessible. Republicans consider widespread voting a threat. We know better. High voter turnout results in better representation, and it is what will save us. If you are not on the permanent early voting list (PEVL) to vote by mail, please sign up. PEVL voters are more reliable voters.
In closing, I would like to address anxiety. Fear is hitting us from all angles: fear of illness, fear of income loss, fear of the unknown, fear for our planet, fear of not doing enough, fear of losing elections. I think I have an answer for some of you. Adopt a pet. I was planning to wait until after the election to bring a dog into our family, but social distancing altered my timeline. Caring for another being is the best way to stop thinking about yourself and your anxieties. Apparently a lot of people in Pima County realize this, because Pima Animal Care Center and the Humane Society of Southern Arizona have all but emptied their cages in the last few weeks. Last Saturday, my husband and I scored when we adopted a little mutt named Basil. He makes us laugh and go on walks. His wiry coat feels like steel wool, and he can howl like a wolf. I needed him as much as he needed us. I am smitten.