To honor Giffords, candidates should only run in the new District 2by tcguestblogger on Jan. 29, 2012, under Government, Politics
By Steve Kozachik
The voters elected Congresswoman Giffords to represent Congressional District 8. As everybody knows, through no fault of her own, she has been forced to step down. That istrict now needs a caretaker until November. Ideally, the Congresswoman would select somebody from within her inner circle to carry out her agenda through the end of her term. The logical names that come to mind are Ron Barber or Mark Kimble, both of whom have been loyal and reflect Gabby’s principles.
Both Democrats and Republicans should stand down on campaigning for the D8 seat. In November, it will dissolve and become embedded within the new District 2. There will be plenty of candidates competing for the new District seat, but 8 belongs to Ms.Giffords. That was the will of the voters as expressed in 2010.
The Congresswoman’s staff has been doing the heavy lifting of constituent work, lobbying on behalf of causes that are important to the Congresswoman, and keeping the D8 office afloat during the course of her recovery. That work should be honored and if there exists within that staff one who is willing to step up and take on the duties of being her arms, legs, and voice on the House floor through the end of the term, that staff has earned the right. They are the staff she chose. They are the staff who knows the issues.
In fairness to the D2 candidates, I understand that there are built in advantages to running for office as an incumbent. For that reason, my use of the word ‘caretaker’ was intentional. Whoever steps into her shoes must do so with the open commitment that this is for the remainder of her term. At that time, the will of the voters will have been honored and the ‘caretaker’ Representative will step down. Afterwards, the District boundaries will change, the constituents will change and the campaign for that new seat should be conducted on a level playing field; no advantage of incumbency.
If D8 is filled through the Special Election in a competitive race, candidates will have to run 2 simultaneous campaigns (one for the Special Election, and one for the new D2 seat,) they will need to raise money for 2 campaigns, the winner of D8 will take office and have to continue to focus on the D2 campaign for the rest of the election cycle, and in the process money will be wasted, attention to the needs of the D8 constituents will go unaddressed, and the work of the current D8 staff will be dishonored.
In the event the current D8 staff members simply want to ride out the remainder of the term doing the fine work they have been doing, I would still propose that Gabby offer up her strong choice for a caretaker candidate. That person would be honor bound to retain her entire staff, pursue her Congressional agenda through the remainder of the term, and step aside in November for the newly formed D2 Representative. If she were to do that, I would hope both Republicans and Democrats would stand down on running for the D8 seat and simply allow her choice to run unopposed.
Gabrielle Giffords was elected to an office that will end in November, 2012. Her staff has been focused on the needs of her constituents, despite the tragic events that threw her plans off course. We don’t need people running simultaneous campaigns for her seat, with the unspoken, but real intent of gaining an advantage by virtue of being called an ‘incumbent’ in what is rightfully her seat. She should be
given the opportunity to select her successor – and that person must take on that role with the expressed intent of stepping aside at the end of her term.
There are those who will say that it is the electorate who is to choose the Representative for D8. In fact, they did. Gabrielle Giffords was the choice of the voters in 2010. Her staff has shown it can ride out the storm and finish the term. Candidates should not subvert the will of the voters by taking advantage of the tragic events of January 2011.
Republican Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik represents Ward Six. He’s the director of facilities for the University of Arizona Department of Athletics.