Saturday, February 21, 2004

Paul Babbitt's Congressional Campaign Announcement Speech

"Over the past several months, I’ve had the opportunity to visit with countless Arizonans who’ve encouraged me to enter this race. They've urged me to run for Congress because they know my record of delivering results for Arizona and they believe it's time for our voice to be heard in Washington for a change.

I am entering this campaign because rural Arizona is my home and I strongly believe we need a voice in Washington.

My connections to rural Arizona communities run deep – I attended Flagstaff High School and one of my first jobs was driving a Coca-Cola truck through the Navajo reservation. I left to serve in the Army, but there was never a doubt in my mind where I would return after my duty.

My wife Mary and I have been proud to raise our family here and we are honored to be a part of this community – that’s why I feel so compelled to serve.

The 1st Congressional District was specifically created to give rural Arizonans a voice in Congress. Unfortunately, our voice has been silent because our representative hasn’t stood up for us. Congressman Renzi has failed to put the issues critical to our communities first.

My roots go deeper in Arizona, I know how to listen, and with your support, we can get things done for all our great communities. I know I can do a better job listening to my constituents—from Casa Grande to Prescott, from Sedona, to Florence, Safford, Winslow, Tuba City, and Flagstaff--- and all across the district.

It’s time for a positive change.

So today, I am launching my campaign for Congress by taking a tour across the 1st Congressional District. I am taking this tour for a reason - to send a message that my campaign will be dedicated to listening to small-town Arizona right from the very start.

We deserve a Congressman who is truly one of us, someone who understands the unique needs of our many different communities. I’ve spent much of my life running our family business and serving in public office. These experiences have instilled me with common sense values and a no-nonsense record of getting things done.

I want to serve Arizona in Congress because economic development, balanced land and water use policies, and improving health care aren’t just campaign issues to me – they are a major part of my life’s work.

I’m proud of the things I've helped accomplish for this community – real achievements like creating Flagstaff’s first senior center, the Coconino Rural Environmental Corps, the Guidance Center and a shelter for battered women – and want to build on this record by serving you in Congress.

Education is the key to our future, and I know we need to do more to provide children in Arizona with the world-class education they deserve. Our students are being shortchanged because of the strains placed upon on our local schools. And No Child Left Behind has given schools additional mandates without all the resources they need to succeed. We simply can’t afford not to do better for our children.

However, we’ve shown we can make a difference by working together. I’m proud of our efforts in the disability community to improve the lives of children like my son Paul. These children will get the chance to realize their dreams because of our work to provide them resources to meet their special needs.

I want to bring that same "can-do" spirit to Washington. I’ll fight for our values by protecting our seniors' retirement security, by fighting to improve Arizona schools, and by striving for balance in environmental concerns. And I will fight to honor our veterans and take care of the soldiers serving America today.

I will support economic policies that actually help families in rural Arizona. I’ll work to fix our broken health care system. And I won’t support more tax breaks for multi-millionaires and corporations that saddle future generations with crushing debt.

Unfortunately, Rick Renzi's priorities just don't reflect our values and don’t address the needs of our communities. He voted for massive tax breaks that provide very little benefit for this district. He’s voted for budgets that shortchange Arizona schools, Arizona seniors, Arizona veterans and that neglect our connection to land and water in the Grand Canyon state.

Indeed, you might ask, "who exactly has Rick Renzi been representing in Congress?" Well, consider this: Renzi has voted with Tom Delay and his Republican leaders well over 90% of the time. Over 90%. Now, if we’ve got a Virginian taking orders from a Texan, who is taking orders from another Texan, then I think it’s at least fair to ask, "When do Arizonans get our say?"

When I am elected we will finally be sending an independent voice for Arizona to Congress.

You already know me as a neighbor who has lived in and served in this District for most of my life. I have participated in local and county government and worked to better our community for over 18 years. As your Congressman, I’ll be just as strong a presence here at home.

My job will be to always listen closely to your concerns and represent you in Washington as best I can. I won't be a Congressman you only hear from occasionally with good news and an over-sized check in my hand.

Frankly, I need and want your ideas for safer forests, for sustaining water rights, and for much better health care.

I am committed to serving Arizona’s 1st District because this is my home and it always will be. I understand the balances our residents strive for – we want to bring in more good jobs, but we never want to lose our character and quality of life and become Anywhere, USA. Our communities are unique, that’s why as Arizonans we choose to live and work here.

I am grateful to all of you for being with us today and am honored by the confidence you've shown in me. I’ll need your help to be successful and I’ll be asking for your time and energy throughout this campaign. And I’ll promise to never let you down.

Simply put, it's time for a change. So I'm declaring my candidacy for the US House of Representatives. Now, let’s go forward and carry our message across Arizona."

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