“We know that now is time to get involved and fight back.”
At first glance, Anna Abeytia—an educator—and Analise Ortiz—a former journalist—may not seem like the type of people to run for public office, but as far as they’re concerned, candidates with more diverse backgrounds are just what Arizona needs.
“People want to see bold proposals to tackle the high cost of rent, increase access to childcare, and raise wages,” Ortiz told The Copper Courier. “Anna and I are ready to deliver the courageous leadership needed to help people recover from the past couple of tough years in this pandemic.”
Abeytia and Ortiz—Arizona natives—hope to represent the residents of Maryvale and Glendale as Democrats in the state Legislature. They’re running as a slate—meaning they campaign together and plan to vote similarly if elected—for two seats in the Arizona House of Representatives, in the recently redrawn Legislative District 24.
As Abeytia and Ortiz make their way through the neighborhood—where the majority of the population is Latino—knocking on doors and asking for signatures, they say residents are surprised to know there’s an election going on. Many say no one has ever knocked on their door to speak with them about elections going on in their community.
“Anna and I have never run for state Legislature before, but we are running because we share voters’ frustration with the way things are going and we know that now is time to get involved and fight back,” Ortiz said.
One of the issues that is confusing voters is the redistricting situation in Arizona. The newly redrawn district is primarily made up of the old District 29 but also parts of a few other districts including 30, 19, and 20.
District 29 is currently represented by Reps. Cesar Chavez and Richard Andrade. Both are now running for the Arizona Senate—Chavez in District 24 and Andrade in District 22. Andrade has endorsed Abeytia and Ortiz. As of now, Abeytia and Ortiz are the only ones to have filed paperwork to run in District 24, but there’s still time for other potential candidates to announce an opposing campaign.
Abeytia and Ortiz may be fresh faces in the Arizona political scene, but they aren’t rookies when it comes to the state’s concerns—they’ve been on the frontlines of issues including voting rights, social injustices, climate change, and education.
Abeytia was born and raised in Maryvale and is currently serving as a governing board member of the Cartwright Elementary School District. She’s also held a position as an educational assistant in the Glendale Elementary School District.
Ortiz is a former journalist and civil rights activist. She was previously working for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) where she advocated for changes to Arizona’s criminal justice policies. In 2021, she was part of a coalition that passed the Dignity for Incarcerated Women’s Act. She also organized to successfully stop legislation that infringed upon the right to vote and the right to protest.
And while they’re young, they’re not alone: Arizona’s Legislature is made up of more than a dozen fellow Millennials, including Reps. Alma Hernandez, Athena Salman, Andrés Cano, and Daniel Hernandez, who is currently running for a US House seat.
Both Latinas say they felt their former positions were limiting. They wanted to run for office in order to create real substantial change for the people in their communities.
“Our message of building an Arizona that puts working families first is resonating with voters in our district,” Ortiz said.
During their interactions with residents, Abeytia and Ortiz say that the No. 1 issue of concern is education, along with the skyrocketing housing prices.
“Before COVID, the educational system was already struggling,” Abeytia said. “So what are we going to do when this [COVID relief] money runs out?”
Abeytia pointed to the number of bills currently in the Legislature that target school spending. For Ortiz, she said one of the things that comes up a lot with residents is the rising cost of housing and the increase in unhoused people. She said that while people are concerned about it, she doesn’t see that same urgency from lawmakers to address these issues.
“People have been put on the streets because of evictions,” Ortiz said. “It already is extremely difficult for Arizonans to pay their rent or pay their mortgage. I think it is wrong that anyone would have to pick up a second job to put a roof over their heads. We need to have creative, tangible solutions.”
As these two candidates embark on their new political careers, Abeytia says it will be an uphill battle especially as they seek to raise money for their campaign. Ortiz said that, as of now, they “have received strong financial support from small-dollar donors” and will disclose their final fundraising figures when the campaign filing deadline hits in April. But what they want more than a donation is young people to come out and volunteer and be involved in the political process.
“Fundraising has been an issue for progressive candidates, but even more importantly than that, I think we want people to come out and volunteer time with us,” she said.
Abeytia and Ortiz will host a Campaña Carne Asada event on Saturday at 7 p.m. to kick off their campaign at 5141 W. Avalon Drive in Phoenix. Attendees will have food, some lotería fun, and a chance to meet the candidates. A minimum donation of $5 is suggested for entry.