Tucson native Esperanza Freitchen is not sitting on the sidelines for this election.
Esperanza Freitchen was born and raised in Tucson, and is a lifelong Arizona resident. She’s a bilingual mom, wife, educator, small business owner, and a doctoral student.
Esperanza tells The Copper Courier she was considered lower-class while growing up on the southside of Tucson. Her parents were both blue-collar workers. Esperanza’s dad was a garbage collector and her mom worked in a doctor’s office.
“I was a first-generation college student and wasn’t expected to achieve much, although my parents emphasized education beyond high school,” Esperanza explained.
For the past 25 years or so, she has worked in non-profits and education, inducing charter schools, youth development, child welfare. She began working in higher education just over 10 years ago. “I decided in 2017 after I finished my MBA that I wanted to pursue a doctoral degree. I am in my third year at Arizona State University pursuing an Ed.D. in Leadership and Innovation.”
Her research is focused on developing cultural competence best practices for working with Latinx undergraduate students.
Esperanza has been back living in her hometown of Tucson since 2011.
When asked about the Tucson region, she said she likes how the city’s mayor describes it: “Tucson is a blue island in a sea of red.” The mayor and City Council in Tucson are all Democrat, and three of the five members on the Pima County Board of Supervisors are also Democrat.
“I’ve lived in both Phoenix and Tucson and I find the Tucson area to be a much more liberal-leaning city than the Phoenix area.”
Esperanza decided to volunteer for the first time in this election. She did it because she knows how important it is to actually connect with people to help them understand the importance of voting.
“I decided to do so because, if not me, then who?” she asked. “And, if not now, then when? I couldn’t sit on the sidelines anymore. I want to be able to look at myself and know that I did my part.”
In fact, Esperanza recently led her first phonebank for Supermajority. Although she said many people don’t answer their phones, those who do are usually receptive and will answer her questions and respond accordingly. She admits, “It’s a little exciting when someone actually answers because I get to engage with potential voters, likely voters, or those that have already voted.”
Esperanza believes that electing Joe Biden is so critical that it reaches beyond a vote against President Donald Trump. She believes electing Joe Biden is a vote for a semblance of professionalism and empathy in the executive branch.
“Joe Biden will repair our relationship with our foreign allies, actually approach governance with logic and science, fill his cabinet with appropriate individuals who are actually skilled at those jobs. A vote for Joe Biden is a vote to replace Betsy DeVos with an actual educator, to improve environmental protections, and not doubt the actual existence of climate change — but on what we must do to combat it. The last four years under this president have been chaotic and downright disturbing, it MUST end.”
Seeing a Progressive Shift
When asked how she sees Arizona changing in the next 10 years or so, Esperanza said it’s difficult to say. The statewide elections in 2022 will be very telling, but she believes there seems to be a shift toward realistic progressive movements. “I think there is a movement to increase funding for not only K12 schools, but colleges and universities as well. I believe as a statehood, citizens are tired of seeing Arizona at the bottom of the list in educational outcomes.”
She believes a well-educated workforce tends to attract businesses looking to expand, and corporations don’t make these decisions solely based on tax incentives.
She also hopes to see Arizona become more balanced where perhaps the “blue island” in Tucson and Pima County will spread to the remainder of the state. “I would love to see the state invest in critical services in the rural areas of the state,” Esperanza said. “I would love to see some further investments and support for solar energy; and the decriminalization of drug offenses. Let’s close the private prisons!”
Thinking of the Future
So what makes Esperanza hopeful for the future? Her daughters. She’s the mom of a 19-year-old who just voted in her first presidential election, and a 15-year-old high school sophomore. She’s raised them both to be independent thinkers, and to be aware of their place in the world — where they have privilege and where they don’t.
“Being so socially conscious has seeped into their own actions. They are both very engaged in making the world a better place and I see how socially aware they both are that it makes me hopeful,” Esperanza explains. “To that end, the pockets of young people in local, state, and national seats makes me hopeful that I will have a nice place to live my retirement years and not be in fear or turmoil.”
In Arizona, young leaders like Andres Cano, who represents the 3rd legislative district in the Arizona House of Representatives, and Tucson Council Member Lane Santa Cruz make Esperanza hopeful. And nationally, young leaders like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar are inspiring. This younger engagement gives her hope.