Anna Tovar

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Meet one of the newest members of the Arizona State Legislature. Anna Tovar was the former vice mayor of Tolleson, and she now represents District 13, a seat vacated by Steve Gallardo.

Jose Cardenas:
Good evening, I'm Jose Cardenas. Thank you for joining us. She's one of the newest members of the Oregon state legislature. The Maricopa County board of supervisors unanimously approved democrat Anna Tovar for the district 13 seat vacated by Steve Gallardo who left the House of Representatives earlier this year. We're kicking off a new segment on this show called "get to know" where we profile people in the community. Joining me now is Representative Anna Tovar. Representative Tovar, welcome to "Horizonte." Thank you for being the first guest on our new segment "getting to know."

Anna Tovar:
Thank you for having me.

Jose Cardenas:
We want to get to know you by starting with a little bit of a description of your background definitely.

Anna Tovar:
I'm a native of Arizona, born and raised in Tolleson, Arizona, my whole life. Graduated from A.S.U. west, with a degree in elementary education. With that degree in hand, I wanted to come back to serve my community that served me so well when I was young. So I became a kindergarten and first grade teacher for approximately five years.

Jose Cardenas:
That was a career I understand was interrupted by some very difficult personal circumstances.

Anna Tovar:
Yes. The fifth year of teaching kindergarten I was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. So hi to leave the teaching profession and tackle battling my life and going through a bone marrow transplant. But I was thankful my brother Jose was my donor, and actually saved my life two times.

Jose Cardenas:
And currently you've been cancer-free for a number of years?

Anna Tovar:
Yes. Approximately 6½ years.

Jose Cardenas:
During part of this time you were serving on the city council of Tolleson, correct?

Anna Tovar:
Yes. I was elected to the Tolleson city council in 2001. I was a few months later I was diagnosed with leukemia in August. But stayed on to city council with the help of the mayor and our city manager at the time. They came into my hospital room and presented the different issues, the different agendas, and they allowed me to participate I have a telephone.

Jose Cardenas:
I think most people, they've facing the circumstances would have decided to resign from the council and tend to immediate problems were you dealing with. Why did you continue to serve on the council?

Anna Tovar:
I decided to continue to serve on the council for a number of reasons. I think one; the main reason was it gave me something as an outlet to concentrate on besides this whole cancer issue that I was trying to tackle. My community came up and was supporting my family, either by prayers, by delivering food, taking care of my children. So I felt also was an obligation for me to continue serving my community. Even at a time when I was not healthy.

Jose Cardenas:
You continued to serve your community by also being a spokesperson for cancer survivors as I understand.

Anna Tovar:
Yes. I'm a spokesperson for the banner health system. My family and I made a commercial last year and also a billboard detailing our journey that we took to battle cancer.

Jose Cardenas:
Let's fast forward to your current job. How did it come about?

Anna Tovar:
It's actually a funny story. I was starting off my campaign for reelection for the Tolleson city council. And our mayor, who has been a great mentor of mine since I was a very young child, came up to me and said, "There's this vacant seat, Steve decided not to take his seat. And I think you're ready for this position." And I would really appreciate it if you would look at the position, consider it, consider running for it." And then I talked to my family, and my husband, and with their support I threw my name in the hat and I thought the worst they could say is no.

Jose Cardenas:
Any concerns, though, about replacing perhaps one of the most notable politicians in that area, certainly a very vocal voice for Latino issues, in the state legislature?

Anna Tovar:
Definitely. I knew putting my name in the hat there was big shoes to fill. Steve had left a great impression in our community, so I knew I had to bring my A game and be ready for this position.

Jose Cardenas:
And the process that resulted in your appointment? Was the county supervisors?

Anna Tovar:
Yes. I went through an interviewing process with the panel, then that panel forwarded three names on to the county board of supervisors, and from there the county board of supervisors elected me unanimously to represent for district 13.

Jose Cardenas:
Now that you're there, what would you say is the biggest difference between your experiences on the city council and your experiences as a freshman legislator?

Anna Tovar:
I would say the city council gave me a great foundation in politics, and learning the ins and out and relating to my constituents and learning the value of meet can with them and listening to them. I would say at the state legislature it's a lot more fast-passed. You're tackling a variety of different issues.

Jose Cardenas:
What about the process of dealing with a budget which is the biggest thing have you on your plate?

Anna Tovar:
I would say that is one thing that surprised me the most. Coming from a background, from the city council where our budget was very transparent and open, required a lot of public input. Going to the state legislature and expecting that same requirement of our state legislatures has really surprised me. A lot of the things that have been happening had been behind closed doors.

Jose Cardenas:
And I assume part of that is because you're a member of the Democratic caucus?

Anna Tovar:
Yes.

Jose Cardenas:
The Republican leadership has released a proposal, budget proposal, are there any things in it that are of particular concern to you?

Anna Tovar:
Yes. I would say number one would be education. I would say the number one issue is education that I wholeheartedly don't agree with.

Jose Cardenas:
If we're facing a $3 billion budget deficit, isn't it necessary to make those kinds of cuts?

Anna Tovar:
I think it's necessary to make cuts in appropriate places, but I think education is one place that doesn't need that cut. I believe we're suffering right now through a rough economic time. And putting that burden on our children is very unfair.

Jose Cardenas:
What are the appropriate places for cuts in your judgment?

Anna Tovar:
I think everyone should have that -- place that burden on different Services. But I think Services that are particularly in value to the state of Arizona should have a limited amount of cuts.

Jose Cardenas:
What else would you do to help the state meet this crisis?

Anna Tovar:
To lead by example. Right now we're asking everyone to make cuts in different areas, but I think as the house of representatives, we have $3 million in our fund that is right now being unused. So I think if we need to lead by example, we need to say, hey, we're willing to give up that $3 million and use it towards our state budget.

Jose Cardenas:
Representative Tovar, I know have you one piece of legislation, we've got about 30 seconds, tell us about it.

Anna Tovar:
It's is a graffiti bill, HB 2551. I think graffiti is an issue that is very permanent in my community. I am hearing from constituents every day, they're very tired of seeing graffiti. So this graffiti bill actually elevates the crime to a class one misdemeanor. It increases the penalty and the fine up to $2500.

Jose Cardenas:
Representative Anna Tovar, it's been a pleasure getting to know you. We hope to have you back on the show.

Anna Tovar:
Thank you.

Anna Tovar:State Representative;

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