New speaker series to tackle critical questions around Arizona's future
A new speaker series from the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership tackles critical questions facing the state of Arizona.
The Future of Arizona Democracy series kicks off April 12 with a discussion centered around the state’s citizen initiative process, which allows for Arizonans to place important issues on public ballots for passage. The inaugural discussion will include insight from John Leshy, professor at the University of California Hastings College of Law, Arizona Republic editorial columnist Robert Robb and Hon. Maria Baier of Great Hearts USA. The panel will be moderated by former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl.
“SCETL offers programs for the non-ASU public, as well as students, to learn more about our governments,” Kyl said. “The better we understand how our governments work, the more citizens can help direct policy.
“The Future of Arizona Democracy program will provide interesting and informational perspectives from experts on how we can direct our efforts to improve our society."
The new series, co-sponsored by the Arizona Chamber Foundation’s Junior Fellows program, will include at least one event per semester. While the first event will be held virtually, the school and the Arizona Chamber hope to bring members of the community together, and plan to host future events in person.
“We are excited to partner with the Arizona Chambers Junior Fellows to deliver these important conversations around Arizona’s democracy and the state’s future,” said school Director Paul Carrese. “Arizona is a rapidly growing state with a diverse economy and some unique political features. And the Chamber of Commerce is a pillar of civil society across America, with a demonstrated interest in civic education for Americans of all ages. These conversations represent an opportunity for new and old members of our community to learn more effective ways to participate in self-government the Arizona way.”
The Arizona Junior Fellows are university students working with the Arizona Chamber Foundation on research, analysis and communications issues. The Junior Fellows program was founded by Eileen Klein, president emeritus for the Arizona Board of Regents, who currently serves as the group’s adviser.
“With a new generation of leaders in charge and many new people moving to our state, it’s the perfect time to consider how we will continue to evolve our democracy to promote freedom and opportunity for all,” Klein said. “We hope to inspire an ongoing series that will consider our state’s political and civic framework. Ideally, it will remain a student-led production, so students can become more immersed in the rich history of our state and more engaged as residents and voters.”
Klein also pointed out that Arizona State University represents a perfect place to host this inaugural discussion on the ballot initiative procedure, as Arizona citizens voted to transform ASU from a college to a university utilizing the procedure in 1958.
Future discussion topics could include election process integrity, executive authority and emergency powers, judicial power and mandatory sentencing, term limits and limitations, the Independent Redistricting Commission and competitive elections, rethinking the state government’s organizational chart, constitutional conservation and stewardship of natural resources, and the Voter Protection Act and Proposition 105, among other topics.
“It’s not enough to complain about the government if we’re not willing to be involved,” Kyl said. “Programs like our discussion on April 12 will help show how we can all be a part of our governance.”