Rep. Barbara Lee Wenona Benally Baldenegro Baldenegro hopes to end congressional gridlock
Monday, 05 March 2012 01:27

Baldenegro hopes to end congressional gridlock

Written by  Christopher Fox Graham | Sedona Red Rock News

Democrat Wenona Benally Baldenegro is looking to win the seat representing Arizona’s Congressional District 1 in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Baldenegro was recently in Sedona attending a house meeting with supporters and constituents.

“I definitely support the National Scenic Area designation for Sedona … and I think we should work hard to push that forward,” Baldenegro said.

She said she had not seen the NSA legislation, which was one of dozens to fail an up-or-down vote along party lines before the 2010 midterm elections.

“This is why I came to Sedona because given how immensely vast this district is, it’s very important that we learn what the local issues are,” Baldenegro said. “Again, as a result of having talked to the public in Sedona, this is now on my radar screen, and I’m taking the time to learn more about it.”

The other major topics she discussed were jobs, the economy and ending the Bush tax cuts, which were set to expire in 2010 but were extended an additional two years.

“Given the downturn in the economy, and the partisan politics that have dominated the conversation of Congress and our state Legislature, people are sick and tired and frustrated and really want representatives who are going to stand up for the people and address their needs,” Baldenegro said about her decision to run. She announced her candidacy in August.

While the November 2012 election looked to be a battle against incumbent Republican Rep. Paul Gosar, he announced he was moving from Flagstaff to Prescott following Arizona’s recent redistricting process earlier this year. His decision takes him out of Congressional District 1, considered competitive but where Democrats have a statistical edge, into Congressional District 4, which is considered safe for Republican candidates.

In the Democratic primary, Baldenegro is facing former U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick. Businessman Doug McKee and Jonathan Paton, a former state legislator and payday loan company lobbyist, are running for the District 1 Republican nomination.

“The Republicans who are running in this district want to continue to push ideology rather than listen to the constituents of the district and listen to the people,” Baldenegro said. “I’ve heard over and over again that people are tired of the gridlock in Congress, and [politicians] aren’t providing solutions to problems in their everyday life.”

Baldenegro said she brings with her a strong public policy background working with people from all types of walks of life. She said she worked with community members to address how people can face problems in their communities, cities and towns.

A Navajo, Baldenegro was raised in Kayenta on the Navajo Nation. She was the first American Indian to graduate from Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in English literature. She earned a law degree from Harvard University and a master’s degree in public policy. She now lives in Flagstaff with her husband, Sal Baldenegro, son of Tucson Mexican-American civil rights leader Salomón R. Baldenegro.

Baldenegro has worked mainly in the public sector and worked as an attorney and public policy advocate for nonprofit organizations, such as the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, an alliance composed of 20 of the state’s 22 federally recognized tribes. She has also helped nonprofits working to expand educational opportunities, assist start-up businesses, increase economic development and diversification, fight predatory lending practices and create affordable housing.

With many Arizonans out of work, Baldenegro said she supports a jobs plan to rebuild infrastructure projects, roads and bridges, which local officials have told her need federal funds for repairs and upgrades.

She said jobs could come through the installation of broadband Internet access to rural parts of the district, which could then be used for telecommunications services. Granting wireless access through an unused portion of the television broadband spectrum was a component of President Barack Obama’s newly proposed American Jobs Act.

Baldenegro said small businesses across the state also need help, primarily through access to financial credit. She also supports ending the Bush tax cuts, which only benefit corporations and the wealthy. She wants to get rid of tax loopholes corporations take advantage of and provide incentives so companies keep their jobs in the United States rather than shipping them overseas.

If elected, Baldenegro would be the first American Indian woman in the country and the first American Indian in Arizona to serve in Congress.

“This would be a wonderful opportunity for us to showcase the diversity of our state,” she said. “As Arizonans, we have a rich heritage and tradition in this state. It would be a wonderful opportunity for Arizona to represent the true diversity of the state.”

She said that given the gridlock on the state and national level, it’s time Arizona had a representative who will give a voice to the people, bring sustainable jobs to the area and provide educational opportunities for everyone in the state.

“We need someone who will stand up and support Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid,” Baldenegro said. “I’m ready to stand up and fight for the middle class and the people of Arizona."

Baldenegro has received endorsements from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the United Steelworkers of America and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

She is also hosting house meetings with constituents. Contact her via at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or her website to arrange a meeting.

Link to original article from Sedona Red Rock News

Read 5587 times Last modified on Monday, 05 March 2012 01:30

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