Thank you to all of you that took the time to vote in Tuesday’s Primary Election. Voters’ across-the-board support of Chamber-endorsed, pro-business candidates gives me confidence that we will continue to have strong allies in public office dedicated to moving the business community forward. Nearly all of our endorsed candidates were successful in their bids to move on to the General Election on Nov. 8.
The importance of taking the time to vote to put strong advocates into office is exemplified by the late Senator Carolyn Allen, who passed away this week at the age of 78. The Scottsdale Republican was well-known in Arizona politics for her mix of a Southern, ladylike demeanor and strong advocacy for issues that were important to her and her constituents.
Today, I am joined in remembering Senator Allen by my friend and colleague Susan Anable, vice president of public and government affairs for Cox Communications. Susan and I both worked as staffers at the Arizona Legislature during Senator Allen’s time there.
(Susan) I remember Senator Allen as a lawmaker that led with her heart. At times, that made her legislative life difficult, especially when her heart led her in a direction opposite of the policy desires of her caucus and her party. For example, in 2010, Senator Allen was the only Republican to vote against the controversial illegal immigration bill SB1070. But that’s how she worked. She felt issues deeply, especially those dealing with people. It put her in some difficult positions in primaries and elections, but she stayed true to who she was.
(Todd) I first met Senator Allen while serving as a House legislative research staffer in the early 2000s. As a staffer, your job is to help lawmakers achieve their policy goals. When lawmakers have a firm idea of their policy goals and provide a path to achieve them, assisting them in those pursuits is much clearer. Senator Allen approached lawmaking in that fashion. She treated us with respect and had high expectations. We strived to meet those expectations and got better because of it.
(Susan) Her calling really was that of an activist, which she used to be an effective lawmaker. If she felt passionately about something, she would not only find her allies and activate them, but she would also reach out to those on the other side to engage them in the solution. She was an excellent political chess player.
Those skills served her very well in her advocacy for the arts and for open natural spaces. Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve and the Arizona Preserve Initiative are direct results of her perseverance and dedication to preserving Scottsdale’s natural beauty for future generations to enjoy. Right up until her passing, she was still advocating for how the McDowell Sonoran Preserve should be used.
(Todd) After I’d left the Arizona House to work at the Chamber as vice president of public affairs, Senator Allen would still call me down to the Capitol and tell me where she thought the Chamber needed to be on an issue. And although many times we didn’t agree, she was always very kind and saw the situation beyond the politics.
The most important rule in working with Senator Allen was to never underestimate her grit and determination. Those making that mistake soon learned that the exterior of charm and grace was supported by a solid spine and tenacity. She was no shrinking violet.
As we say our final goodbyes to our friend, who enjoyed referring to House Speaker Jake Flake as “Cowboy” when it was time to get to work, we sincerely hope she isn’t the last Carolyn Allen that we get to work with at the Arizona Legislature.