By Philip Haldiman
Bob Musselwhite came to Litchfield Park during its infancy as an incorporated city.
The city was low on funds, had fallen victim to storm damage, and needed infrastructure improvements as well as guidance.
Former mayor Perry Hubbard said that in 1990, three years after becoming a city, Litchfield Park had gone through two city managers and had been without one for six months before a vote for another city manager went before council.
A sense of relief washed over Mr. Hubbard after the council approved Mr. Musselwhite, who had previously held leadership roles in West Virginia and North Carolina and then became a familiar fixture in the town’s top position.
Becoming a city is quite the learning experience, Mr. Hubbard said, and securing Mr. Musselwhite as the city manager allowed the council to move more efficiently to its vision.
“We had been without a city manger. I was acting as city manager and a council member at the time, mainly because I had the time to do it and needed to help the mayor at the time,” he said. “But then Bob came on and he really picked up the ball. He knew what he was doing.”
Now Mr. Musselwhite wants to bring that expertise to Washington D.C., announcing his candidacy for the 2020 democratic primary election in U.S. District 8, which covers parts of Sun City, Sun City West, Surprise, Peoria, Youngtown, Glendale, Litchfield Park and Goodyear.
He says Washington has lost its way, so he has decided to launch a grassroots campaign for a seat in Congress to bring common sense and common values back.
“Washington is failing to live up the Constitution. It is very frustrating and it makes you wonder what is going on. Our country is better than that,” he said. “My wife and family came from the military and sacrificed a lot and it’s my civic responsibly to get in involved in politics. It is a job that has to be done.”
Mr. Musselwhite was the city manager of Litchfield Park from 1991 to 1998, later became an elected council member and has lived in town for nearly 29 years.
Before coming to Litchfield Park he graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in Political Science and graduated with a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from West Virginia University.
He has worked for the Chapel Hill North Carolina Police Department, worked as a county administrator in Upshur County, West Virginia and as a town administrator in Biltmore Forest, North Carolina.
Additionally, he was an instructor pilot at the Airline Training Center, a subsidiary of Lufthansa, German airlines.
For the last 13 years, he has been a public high school teacher in world history.
He will gather signatures in front of the May 2020 deadline.
Mr. Musselwhite takes issue with the current state of democracy and the amount of money it takes to run for office.
He said when organizations donate millions of dollars to campaigns, they expect something back and that is fundamentally one of the problems with the system.
He encountered this in the 2018 election when he ran for the same seat and Hiral Tipirneni supporter Lynda Vescio filed a lawsuit to challenge the validity of signatures on his petition. He dropped out of the race because he did not have the money to fight the suit.
“I just let it go,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean you are wrong and won’t quit fighting. It just meant I was off the ballot.”
This time around he said he will gather more signatures and work harder. The experience taught him that people are disillusioned with voting and politics.
He said elected officials should not just represent their own party, they should represent all their constituents.
Mr. Musselwhite is vowing to run his campaign that way, and if elected he said he vows to serve all his constituents regardless of their political ideology.
“One of the biggest complaints I got while campaigning and talking to 10,000 to 15,000 people is that they did not want to sign (petitions) because they believed it was not going to do any good because our government has sold out,” he said. “That is the sentiment I got from Democrats, Republicans and Independents. People said that money has gotten lost in the shuffle and that they are not speaking for us. I’ve got a good feeling about where people on the street stand on this stuff. They were impressed when I was out there wanting to talk. It was a tremendously good experience.”
Mr. Musselwhite is running on a campaign to protect Social Security, support affordable healthcare and fiscal responsibility, among other issues.
Mr. Hubbard and Mr. Musselwhite worked together at the city of Litchfield Park for about eight years, where governing is a non-partisan affair.
He said they may have at times disagreed with each other on some issues, but they always put the needs of the city first, and remained non-partisan.
Elected officials need to put the country first as well, Mr. Hubbard said.
“Bob and I have a mutual respect for each other, and that’s where we definitely agree,” he said. “Bob is a hard worker and if he gets elected, he’ll do a good job.”
Here are some of Bob Musselwhite’s platforms for his 2020 candidacy for U.S. District 8. For more information, visit bobmusselwhiteforcongress.com.
Social Security: The Federal Insurance Contribution Act or Social Security is a program that works. It must be protected for retirees now and for the future.
Affordable health are for all: Medicare for people who are on the system now needs to be improved and increases in prices resisted. For those who have not reached retirement age we must recognize that there is no such thing as a free lunch . A program of reduced benefits that provides catastrophic coverage while encouraging each individual to be part of the health care solution should be made available to all Americans using Medicare as a model.
Fiscal responsibility: The federal government should operate in such a manner that both monetary and economic factors are stable. Fiscal responsibility would safeguard both the savings and retirement funds of all Americans while providing better business opportunities.
Luke Air Force Base: Luke Air Force Base is a national treasure. We have the weather, the flyways, the Barry Goldwater Range and clear approaches and departures. Luke is our important contribution to the national defense. The base also provides important contributions to our community.
Water: We must make certain that anything that interferes with water allocations and water volumes to fill those allocations is constantly addressed. Water is critical to Maricopa County and Congressional District 8.