KINGMAN – David Garcia is Arizona born and raised, and a fourth-generation Arizonan. His parents were a commercial painter and a factory worker. He was the first member of his family to go to college. Garcia served in the Army as an infantry marksman.
Gubernatorial candidate Garcia’s background is a familiar one.
“I’ve got my roots in the working-class family,” Garcia said. “I went to Arizona State for my undergrad, University of Chicago for my Ph.D. Then I came home again.”
Garcia taught graduate level research methods classes at ASU for years. Garcia said by 2012 he was sick and tired of watching the state tear public education apart, so he ran for Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2014.
During that campaign, Garcia outperformed every other Democrat statewide, increased turnout among Latinos and young voters, and generated a large volunteer army. He came within 1 percent of beating his opponent.
Garcia, who visited the Daily Miner Sunday after speaking at the Mohave County Democrats meet-and-greet at Calico’s, said the campaign motto pretty much sums everything up.
“From us. For us. It’s who we are,” Garcia said. “We know Arizona corner to corner, and we are invested in making (citizens) lives better.”
Garcia said some of the issues he will focus on during his campaign, and if he were elected governor, are public education, health care and the environment.
Garcia said the focus on public education wouldn’t just be K-12, but he also wants to see movement in community colleges.
“Every state is doing something exciting. We are not investing in our people,” Garcia said. “We aren’t investing in that human capital. Education is a pathway to a whole segment of qualified jobs.”
Ian Danley, campaign manager for Garcia, said Gov. Doug Ducey has abandoned rural Arizona. The focus has been on Maricopa County, and that’s where the funding is going.
“We’re trying to get those funds back in ‘your’ hands,” Danley said.
Garcia said he wants to bring rural Arizona back into the economic fold of the state.
Garcia’s main health care initiative is getting affordable access to everyone. He also said he wants to bring mental health into the conversation.
“You can go through an entire conversation without talking about mental health,” Garcia said. “We need to talk about it.”
As for the environment, Garcia said he wants to implement solar energy. For a sunny state, it’s something that needs to be harnessed. His philosophy about the environment, which has extended to his campaign, is “leave this place better than we found it.” Garcia said he was taught to always leave a campsite or a trail better than he found it, even if that meant picking up another person’s trash.
A big driving point for Garcia is being honest, about himself and about the state of Arizona. Garcia said he doesn’t think Arizona is as deeply red as people think, especially Mohave County. The minimum wage ballot passed in the area, so there are people who see they are getting the short end of the stick, Garcia said.
Danley said Ducey has to defend his record, which hurts people who are trying to get by.
“Even with scare tactics, people can see what is good,” Danley said.
Garcia said his commitment to rural Arizona, commitment to public education and his commitment to working families, everyday folk, will help people look past bipartisanship and understand.
“In the military no one is better than anybody else,” Garcia said. “We are in this thing together. If we focus on just a few powerful people, everyone else gets left behind.
A June poll conducted by Public Policy Polling of 1,020 Arizonans shows Garcia beating Ducey 44 percent to 42 percent. This poll also has Garcia beating his only Democratic opponent by a 40-point margin. The margin of error is 3.1 to 4.9 percent.
“I’m not a politician,” Garcia said. “We’re just some guys fighting for their home state. We’re in this to serve Arizona, to make it a better place, that’s going to be our commitment.”