Tags Articles tagged with "opinion"


U.S. Rep. Tom O'Halleran
U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran

By U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran

In December 2019, I voted to pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a new North American trade deal that will improve international trade with our neighbors to the north and south, protect our workers and environment, and create enforcement provisions to ensure all that trading partners are held accountable.

Last month, I was pleased to see the agreement move through the Senate and to the president’s desk for a signature.

Over the last year, I have sat down with businesses of all sizes across our state to hear about the changes they needed to see in order to succeed and continue to offer services and jobs to Arizona families. I also personally met with Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. trade representative, on several occasions to negotiate provisions within this important agreement.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2018, Arizona had $20.4 billion in total trade with potential USMCA markets, and, according to the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, between 1994 and 2017, Arizona’s exports to Mexico grew from $2.4 billion per year to $7.7. billion — a 311% increase.

Currently, over 200,000 jobs in Arizona alone depend on trade with Mexico and Canada. A study from the International Trade Commission found that the USMCA, if ratified, would add an estimated $68.2 billion to the economy and create 176,000 new jobs.

When it comes to our state’s growing economy, creating good-quality jobs that support a family is a key priority of mine. According to a recent study by the University of Arizona, our state is attracting new residents at one of the highest rates in the entire country. Arizona’s economy is not only growing at a pace that exceeds that of our thriving national economy, but is also diversifying away from one main sector—construction and real estate—to include other industries like education, transportation, and manufacturing.

The USMCA will ensure that new jobs in these industries are preserved and that new economic sectors can continue to expand and spur the creation of more employment for Arizona families.

Although Arizona’s job market expanded under NAFTA, the newly renegotiated USMCA is a bigger win for not only our economy, but also our workers and our environment. This agreement improves upon NAFTA by bolstering protections for our hardworking labor community, preserving important environmental standards, and enhancing compliance monitoring. I worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure that these essential provisions were included in the final agreement language.

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement is a win for Arizona workers, rural communities, agriculture producers, and small and large businesses throughout the state. It is an example of legislating done right—thoughtful negotiations, consideration of input from stakeholders and experts, and bipartisan, bicameral support. I was proud to vote to ratify the USCMA and look forward to seeing all the good it will do for our Arizona, our rural communities, and our nation.

Tom O’Halleran is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives representing Arizona’s First Congressional District. A Democrat, he lives in the Village of Oak Creek.

Jiselle Diaz
Jiselle Diaz

By Jiselle Diaz

Teenagers find it difficult to feel empowered.

According to one study, 57 percent of teens have experienced persistent feelings of sadness, rage and hopelessness. This adds to a misconception I notice among teens of this generation; some think being angry about an issue means they are empowered.

This mindset is saying anger is power, and that is not true. It can seem quite difficult to grow as a teen in such a time like this. However, it’s not impossible.

Let’s get personal. My name is Jiselle Diaz and I am Miss City of Maricopa’s Outstanding Teen 2019. I recently became a member of Be Awesome Youth Coalition. My platform is “Be the Lighthouse: Teen Empowerment,” which is about empowering teens through leadership, service and kindness.

During my first two years of high school my family was going through extensive changes, causing me to behave in a reclusive, depressive way due to similar feelings of rage and sadness. I did not want to make new friends or try new things, and I experienced constant anxiety attacks.

I was invited to join Link Crew, where I learned mentorship skills and I helped prepare and guide 16 freshmen for high school. This program gave me the inspiration to develop my platform. I partnered with Be Awesome because everything they stand for fits with my cause perfectly.

Leadership is a skill all teens should learn. Serving others and being kind is always the right thing to do. It is so important to be involved in your community because of how empowering it is. Fortunately, it’s easy to do that in Maricopa.

My favorite ways of getting involved in the community have been musically performing and being a titleholder in the Miss City of Maricopa Scholarship Organization where I’m given the opportunity to serve my community. I highly encourage you to get involved.

Stay connected. Stay positive. As teens, we need to develop relationships and friendships. We should get involved, meet new people, and have fun with it! Life’s too short to not have fun. Shine your light, be empowered, and be awesome, teens.

Jiselle Diaz is the reigning Miss City of Maricopa Outstanding Teen.


5 Ways to Get Involved
1) Get an internship. They provide great experience and look awesome on college resumes.
2) Join a church youth group. Get to know other people just like you and make lifelong friends.
3) Volunteer at your local food bank, host a clothing drive, etc. Help those in need and make a difference.|
4) Get involved in an organization in your community/school. (Hint, hint: Be Awesome!)
5) Start your own organization or club. This is an amazing way to spread a message and gather others around something you believe in.

This column appears in the May issue of InMaricopa.

Bernadette Russoniello

Upcoming College and Career Ready Events at MHS
Dollars for Scholars Scholarship Bootcamp, May 28-29, 8 a.m.-noon at MHS Library
Standing out in the Admissions Process, June 4-5, 8 a.m.-noon at MHS Library
Events are appropriate for all high school students, grades 9-12. For more information, contact Bernadette Russoniello at brussoniello@musd20.org.

By Bernadette Russoniello

Bernadette Russoniello

Applying for scholarships could be a full-time job for high school students. Yet most students are unaware and unprepared for the work required.

Daily, I hear comments from students such as, “Miss, I spent like four hours working on applying, and I found nothing,” “It’s only a thousand dollars, it’s not worth the work” and “I wish I would’ve started sooner!”

Simply by earning all A’s and B’s, students manage to earn at least $27 for every hour they are in high school through university academic scholarships. Students need to invest time up front in building a scholarship application portfolio and a researched action plan to maximize their chances at earning monies.

What’s a scholarship portfolio? I encourage students to start a digital portfolio of all elements typically required for applications. At MHS, we use Google Apps for Education, so starting a folder in their Google Drive is the first step. Gather and develop basic elements required for most scholarships: three letters of recommendation, an updated resume, a list of awards and honors, personal statements including reflections on your career and college goals, a personal narrative describing yourself and an updated high school transcript.

Tips on letters of recommendation. Ask well before you need one. I have students asking regularly for letters the day before they are due. Ask in advance, and make sure to give a five- to 10-day window. After the first week, gentle reminders are appreciated to ensure you receive your letter on time. Additionally, providing your recommender your resume and personal narrative helps them include points about you they may not know. And most importantly, pick people who are strong writers and know you well – specific examples and personal anecdotes are what readers look for, not a regurgitation of the resume.

Standing out. Admissions and scholarship readers read literally hundreds, if not thousands, of applications. The applicant must stand out in the process, either through their voice, their story or their accomplishments. Accomplishments are the toughest; all students applying are in clubs, get great grades and serve as campus leaders. What do you do that makes you different?

Where to start? I’m a fan of Scholarships.com – but not the “Free Search” (unless you love spam and third-party emails). I show students how to use the “Directory” feature to search by category and due date. Students need to develop an action plan that allows them to list scholarships, links, application needs and due dates.


This column appears in the May issue of InMaricopa.

Murray Siegel
Murray Siegel

By Murray Siegel

What was your reaction when you learned about the scandal involving wealthy parents spending obscene money to secure their child’s admission into an elite university? Were you outraged that this was so unfair, especially if you have a child nearing college age? Perhaps you saw this as another example of the arrogance of the affluent.

My response was despite their wealth these folks are stupid, since these elite universities really do not offer a better undergraduate education, so why spend the money? Yes, Harvard, Yale and Stanford are fine colleges to obtain graduate or professional degrees, but my experience indicates for undergraduates there are much better schools.

What gives me the right to make this statement? For many years during my teaching career, I taught and coached at various high schools and became involved in hundreds of college searches. I generally followed up with my students to get feedback about their college experiences. Of greater importance, from 1985 through 1998, I conducted summer teacher workshops on college campuses from Boston to Honolulu. At each college, I would search out students and faculty to gain an assessment of that school as a possible college for my high school students.

During the summer of 1987, I conducted a workshop at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. My contacts with students and faculty demonstrated that TU offers a fabulous undergraduate environment. Upon my recommendation, five of my former students received degrees from TU. One is a Slavic linguist for the Defense Language Institute, one leads a city’s drama program, one is a urologist, one holds two doctorate degrees and is a professor at The Sorbonne in Paris, and the fifth is a bilingual economist working for a nonprofit. All reported great academic and social experiences at this college.

Based on my research, I can recommend several private universities in lieu of elite schools. Emory and Agnes Scott (Decatur, Georgia), Furman (Greenville, South Carolina) Davidson (Davidson, North Carolina), Rice (Houston, Texas) and Harvey Mudd (Claremont, California). Some state universities I recommend are Georgia Tech (Atlanta), Clemson (Clemson, South Carolina), University of Virginia (Charlottesville, Virginia), Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, Virginia), Auburn (Auburn, Alabama) and Texas A&M (College Station, Texas) These are not the only quality colleges out there; they are ones which I have the most familiarity.

I did not mention in-state schools since I always prefer students go out-of-state if at all possible. Staying in Arizona, U of A, ASU and NAU each offers exceptional academic programs.

If you are experiencing or approaching the college search, please disregard the elites and focus on a school that meets your child’s needs.

Murray Siegel, Ph.D., has 44 years of experience teaching mathematics. He is in his fourth year as a volunteer at Butterfield E.S.

This column appears in the May issue of InMaricopa.


For the past few years, InMaricopa, the Maricopa Monitor and the Chamber of Commerce sponsored candidate forums together.

This year, we opted to break away from a confining partnership and present our own debates, as is the prerogative of any media outlet. We came to this conclusion for a variety of reasons, which the Monitor’s uninformed response forces us to outline publicly.

Past candidate forums were too comfortable and too politically safe for the candidates, and seemed purposely designed that way. We want a Town Hall format that would be more enlightening for voters with more latitude to challenge the candidates about their positions. We want to markedly reduce the role of the moderator and let citizens get the answers to questions they want to ask. We want a format that would allow candidates to more fully engage with each other on the issues.

What we don’t want is for the Town Hall to be a showpiece for the media, including us. All media are welcome to cover, but voters are the focus.

The Chamber of Commerce was invited to be a presenting sponsor. However, the Monitor chose to interpret InMaricopa’s move to separate itself as “stealing” the debates, virtually eloping with the Chamber.

The Monitor posted an attack on InMaricopa filled with unsupported conspiracy theories stated as fact. The commentary, for some reason written by a reporter rather than an editor, is evidence of the lack of leadership apparent at the Monitor for some time.

The decision-making process in story coverage, leaning to sensationalization and pandering to base curiosity, is not something we wish to identify ourselves with further. Stories about the investigations into a child-molestation case and a murder case, just recently, were needlessly detailed for gross-out impact with the effect of exploiting victims very shortly after tragic events.

Monitor staff and contractors have made it a habit to use social media to cast shade on InMaricopa when their own ethics are questioned by their own readers. It has been a ridiculous deflection formed by bad judgment and has irrevocably damaged what could be friendly competition. Another reason we wish to disassociate ourselves.

Vincent Manfredi is a minority owner in InMaricopa. He is also a member of the city council. He is also running for re-election. Whatever the personal politics of its owners, InMaricopa has never picked political sides and has never endorsed any candidate for office. Our aim is to let all sides speak when they are willing to talk, and let the voters decide.

Much of the Monitor’s attack on InMaricopa had little to do with the debates but personal grudgingness over media competition and hypothetical access. Neither the Chamber nor InMaricopa has approached the debates to “make a buck,” a silly accusation over an event that financially profits no one.

InMaricopa established itself as a hyper-local news source, concentrating its objective coverage on all things Maricopa and issues that impact Maricopa. That is how we are approaching and presenting this Town Hall.

Raquel Hendrickson is the editor of InMaricopa.

Anthony Smith

By Anthony Smith

On May 11, 2016, I was notified by the Pinal County Deputies Association that they are endorsing my candidacy for re-election as County Supervisor.

The letter from Benjamin Cook, President of Pinal County Deputies Association, reads as follows:

“Following extensive research by the Executive Board of the Pinal County Deputies Association, PCDA is proud to announce our endorsement for your candidacy for Supervisor of District 4.

Your support for public safety issues and employees is deeply appreciated. Your honest and upfront beliefs and convictions concerning the role of the County Supervisor’s in our community are much needed and refreshing.

PCDA believes that you will strive towards an improved alignment between the office of the Sheriff and the Board of Supervisors, eliminating some of the politics within this system and reaffirming the needs of the citizens in your district.”

I am both honored and grateful to the men and women who are the front line forces of public safety for this very important endorsement. It reinforces the commitment we both have for working together to reduce crime, improve working conditions and manage resources within tight budgets.

During my next four years in office, I’ll continue to be as committed to the ideas put forward by the Pinal County Deputies Association as I have in my first term.

Anthony Smith is running for re-election to the Pinal County Board of Supervisors.