Dreamer And Teacher of the Year Will Be Arizona Guests For State of the Union

State of the Union

By Jessica Swarner

February 4, 2020

Arizona legislators are bringing a mix of mostly educators and activists as their guests to the 2020 State of the Union.

President Donald Trump will address the nation Tuesday night in his third annual State of the Union address. For the event, Arizona members of Congress are expecting to bring a few guests to the Capitol.

Here is the guest list:

Rep. Ruben Gallego

Gallego, a Democrat, is bringing Vanessa Mendez, a second-grade teacher in Phoenix and a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. 

“DREAMers like Vanessa across Arizona and throughout the country are serving others and making a positive difference, despite uncertainty and fear brought on by the Trump administration’s cruel immigration tactics,” Gallego said in a statement emailed to The Copper Courier. 

“I hope Vanessa’s attendance will help inspire President Trump and Republicans to stop using DREAMers as political pawns and allow these young aspiring Americans to remain permanently in the country they call home.”

Rep. Greg Stanton

The Democratic lawmaker announced he will bring the Arizona Education Foundation’s Teacher of the Year Lynette Stant, who teaches third grade in Scottsdale. 

Here’s what he had to say on social media:

Rep. Andy Biggs

Biggs, a Republican, plans to bring along Mary Ann Mendoza, the mother of a Mesa police sergeant killed by an intoxicated wrong-way driver who crashed into his vehicle in 2014. Mendoza has become an activist for border security after finding out the offending driver, who also died in the crash, lived in the U.S. illegally and had been convicted of previous crimes but not deported. 

Rep. Raul Grijalva

A spokesman for Grijalva told The Copper Courier the Democratic House member raffled off his guest ticket to a staff member for the opportunity to accompany him to the speech.

Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick

Kirkpatrick, a Democrat, will be attending the State of the Union despite recently announcing she’s taking time off from congressional duties to undergo treatment for alcohol dependence. Her guest will be Teresa Cavendish, the director of Casa Alitas, a nonprofit agency that serves migrant families. 

“Programs like Casa Alitas, led by Teresa, have opened doors and hearts to migrants seeking asylum. I’m honored that Teresa will be representing the district as our State of the Union guest,” Kirkpatrick said in a statement emailed to The Copper Courier. 

“I believe her commitment to help migrants deserves to be elevated because the work of Casa Alitas is a true example of our American values,” she added.

 Rep. Debbie Lesko

The lawmaker announced she will bring fellow Republican former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to the State of the Union, for she is a “champion of conservative values & also calls the West Valley home.”

Rep. Tom O’Halleran

O’Halleran, a Democrat, will be bringing Tara McCollum Plese, chief external affairs officer at the Arizona Alliance for Community Health Centers.

“In Arizona, community health centers serve over 700,000 Arizonans and provide high quality, affordable, integrated health care, mental health services, and dental services, treat substance use disorders, coordinate HIV/AIDs prevention, and provide chronic disease management,” O’Halleran said in a statement on his website

“Tara’s work to advocate for Arizona CHCs at the state and federal level has safeguarded the primary care of countless families in the First District.”

Sen. Martha McSally

McSally, a Republican, will bring Hope Harrison, the widow of a Department of Defense pilot killed in a terrorist attack in Kenya on Jan. 5. Harrison is from Tucson.

“The Arizona community has rallied around Hope and their 2-year-old daughter Heaven and I want them to know that the nation stands by them too,” McSally said in a statement on her website.

“We will not forget the sacrifice Dustin made for his country and pledge to honor his life and service.”

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema

Arizona’s Democratic senator will bring retired Air Force Major Gen. Ted Maxwell of Tucson. Maxwell is now the president and CEO of the Southern Arizona Leadership Council.  

“Major General Maxwell’s legacy of service is inspiring; he served our country and led Arizona servicemembers for over 30 years and now works to expand opportunities in Tucson and across our state,” Sinema said in a statement on her website

Reps. Paul Gosar and David Schweikert did not immediately return The Copper Courier’s inquiries on State of the Union attendance.


  • Jessica Swarner

    Jessica Swarner is the community editor for The Copper Courier. She is an ASU alumna and previously worked at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix.



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