Looking back on 2020

I had great hopes and serious concerns entering into 2020. I had hopes for major life changes and concerns over our politics and how our political atmosphere would affect my personal and professional life.

The year started off great. Being a gardener, I spent my Thursday mornings in Apache Junction teaching gardening to our clients at Hope Women’s Center. Many of our garden plots produced abundant winter vegetables, especially Romaine lettuce and sweet peas. What was most rewarding was the time spent with amazing women learning from one another as we and the garden grew.

January also brought the new legislative session at the Arizona Capitol and that meant lobbying for some important bills. The top priority was a data bill that forces the Arizona Department of Education to share its data silos with the 15 county school superintendents and other state agencies. This bill has been in the works for several years and only gained traction this year after the other county superintendents threw their support behind it. We had a great sponsor, legislative leadership and lobbying team. Of special mention was my Spring semester MCLEAPS intern Jazzy who kept fantastic notes and track of all the bills making their way through the House and Senate. Unfortunately, mid-March brought a complete panic to the Capitol and that resulted in our bill falling short by one vote in the House. (That legislator got booted later in the year!)

With the Legislature adjourned, my professional attention shifted to the 2020 Election. I hired a fresh-out-of-college Election Specialist, Max, who had to learn quickly how to juggle bond and override elections for 18 school districts as well as the 250 plus candidates seeking 161 school governing board seats across Maricopa County. All that was complicated by lockdowns and restrictions placed on individuals who needed to collect signatures to get on the ballot.

Summer hit hard in 2020 with record-setting heat. A look around Arizona will reveal the effect of extended days above 110 degrees – lots of dead trees. Fires also devastated great areas of land across Arizona including the stretch of highway northeast of Mesa called the Beeline. Driving north to Payson, travelers will see the horrific damage done to vegetation including thousands of saguaro cactus. At the center in AJ, we lost eight of our ten fruit trees in the orchard.

Back in the neighborhood beginning in January, I led the effort to make major changes to our Homeowners Association. It began with a survey issued in December, 2019 in which the board of directors asked the community for a basic performance review. The board received an earful with the vast majority of feedback directed at the management company. That survey inspired new individuals to seek two seats on the board of directors and in May, we welcomed our newest members to the board. That same month, the board voted to issue a RFP for management companies. Several companies submitted and went through an exhaustive interview and vetting process before our selection committee recommended one company. With two new members in place, the full board voted unanimously to hire CCMC and a short time later chose our new community manager. The new board of directors has accomplished much at the close of this year and will make several major decisions in 2021. My only hope for the HOA heading into 2021 is that I get to leave the association in better condition than when I began. Special thanks to the incredible people I serve with – Tot, Gary, Sue and Karla!

My concerns this year hinged on the political atmosphere and how that would affect me, my family and the people I work with. It’s no secret that I cannot stand Donald Trump and his style of governing. While I will give him credit on some policy changes, appointments and issues, I have strongly objected to the direction he has taken the Republican Party. I have spoken often about this on social media and even on radio and television and my complaint has been that he is destroying the GOP through subtraction and division and not addition and multiplication. The GOP has been hijacked and we are losing ground because of his “leadership” style.

The connection in all this is that I work for an elected official and serve the people of Maricopa County. I have been extremely fortunate to have held my position for almost four years now but that probably would have changed if my elected official had lost his election. In fact, it would have resulted in several people losing their jobs due to the political nature of the positions. Thank God that my elected official won re-election and will continue. That wasn’t the case on Election Day however because almost every Democrat candidate was winning in county-wide races. It wasn’t until several days after the election that Republicans inched their way back to victory. And while the majority of Republicans won across Arizona, the Trump Effect has been slowly eroding away at that majority. The hope moving forward is that Trump’s exit from the Presidency will allow Republicans to start to regain the trust and credibility of voters, especially here in Arizona.

Jumping back to the month of August, my team welcomed our Fall MCLEAPS intern, Logan, who performed the majority of her work remotely from home and built this incredible interactive education web using a tool she discovered. We plan on using this as an important tool for our office to see all the connections between those in the education community across Arizona. Once again, the MCLEAPS program has provided amazing individuals to our office allowing us to learn from them and speak value into their short time with us.

Now the more personal stuff.

I’ve already spoken about the election and how a loss may have affected my job. What I have not disclosed until now is that this election cycle I had derived a backup plan. I almost fully embraced my Plan B despite everything working out with Plan A. Plan B would have involved selling our home and moving away from Phoenix – something I yearn for! But there was far more than selling our home and moving to rural Arizona.

In September, we learned that our youngest child was going to make us grandparents again! This is excellent news and it means we will remain in Mesa because that’s what grandparents do! We’re also awaiting the return of our first grandson, Jameson, to Mesa sometime in the spring. While I’ve expressed my distaste of big city life and a desire to move to the country, that will have to wait for now.

Moving into 2021, I won’t make any resolutions but will set some goals. That will show up in a future post.

Happy New Year everyone! May God bless you and yours in 2021!