COMMENTARY: Gray working on important issues

It was an honor for me to be appointed to the Arizona State Senate to replace Debbie Lesko after she resigned to run for Congress.

Once appointed I had to hit the ground running since the legislative session had already began. As your LD21 State Senator, I have been working on several issues that I think are important in our district. I have been a director on the board of Sun City Community Assistance Network (SCCAN) since its inception.

Rick Gray

The mission of SCCAN is to help connect seniors in Sun City who are under the poverty line with needed resources. I would like to see this same type of assistance provided to all those in need across our district. I will be working with Surprise, Peoria, Youngtown and El Mirage to help achieve that goal. We will be coordinating with nonprofits, church groups and any organization who are interested in furthering this mission.

Along that same line is another program that we need to bring to our district and that is the Zip Code Project that the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) started. Their goal is to connect with those who are between the ages of 16 and 24 who are out of school and unemployed. The ADE has been limited by available resources to how many zip codes they can reach so our area has not been included in the project yet, but I have had some educators in our district who have offered to help replicate this project in our district. I look forward to working with them and other volunteers to make sure no one in our West Valley communities are abandoned to poverty because of a lack of education or job opportunities.

The third project I will be working on is the reevaluation of our Pre-K through 12 education system. This year we passed the governor’s 20×2022 plan to increase teacher salaries. But that does not mean we do not have any other issues we need to address. I have committed to bringing stakeholders together to look at a more comprehensive education plan. This would include reducing some of the burdensome requirements in Title XV, the legal requirements our schools have to operate under. We also need to reevaluate our current financing structure, which is anything but easy to understand by the average taxpayer.

Fortunately, I have education experts from both district and charter schools who have offered to be a part of this project. That is important to me because it is the legislature that needs to revise our education laws but it is the education experts that need to inform and direct our actions.

Working together, I believe we can accomplish much more and we can develop the education system our children deserve.

I’m here to serve you. Please don’t hesitate to contact me at rgray@azleg.gov or 602-926-5413 with any questions, ideas or suggestions.

Rick Gray represents Legislative District 21 in the Arizona Senate. LD 21 encompasses much of northwest Maricopa County including El Mirage, Peoria and Sun City.



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