Local reports on Rep. Ciscomani’s new bi-partisan Citizens’ Advisory Committee

Contributed Photo/Courtesy Juan Ciscomani: Rep. Juan Ciscomani’s new Citizens’ Advisory Committee takes a picture during its inaugural meeting. Our author, Jennifer Griffith, is in the front row, fourth from the left. Graham County Supervisor John Howard is pictured in the back.  

The committee includes two from Graham County

Column By Jennifer Griffith/Special to the Gila Herald

Gila Valley friends, we have a new congressman. Juan Ciscomani represents us in Washington, D.C. He is young and energetic and was — surprisingly — selected to be on the House Appropriations Committee, even though he’s a freshman. I thought the local community would like to know something interesting—that our Congressman has created a bi-partisan Citizens’ Advisory Committee, which includes two people from Graham County, Supervisor John Howard and me, Jennifer Griffith.

How this happened:

Last year, our area was re-districted after the census. Graham and Greenlee Counties were redrawn into CD-6, which put us in an area with no sitting U.S. Congressman. It is the most evenly split (between GOP and Dem) district in the state, and one of the most evenly split in the whole nation.

After a close race, Mr. Ciscomani won the election. He had a great story. I’ll put it in a nutshell, using a direct quote from him.

“Sixteen years ago, I swore an oath to the U.S Constitution for the first time, when I became a U.S. citizen. This past month, I took that oath a second time — when I became a Member of Congress.” He then said something like “only in America.”

He loves America, and he loves our region of Arizona. He is a coalition-builder. When he told his story during a nominating speech last week on the House floor, both sides of the aisle ended up chanting, “USA! USA!” by the time he finished.

In a solid first move, he created a Citizens Advisory Committee that consisted of not just his own party members, but also of his supposed opponents. Included are elected county supervisors of both parties, rural voices and urban. On it are representative citizens — from execs of Tucson Electric Power to Chamber of Commerce reps. From the leader of Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona to the Cochise County Sheriff. From a rancher on the border to a defense contractor, to a member of the State Board of Regents, to bilingual media leaders.

And many others.

Contributed Photo/Courtesy Juan Ciscomani: Rep. Juan Ciscomani sits at the head of the conference table during the inaugural Citizens’ Advisory Council meeting. Graham County Supervisor John Howard and author Jennifer Griffith are seated one person away on Ciscomani’s right.

The point is, the membership list is broad — and interests are varied. There are conservatives and liberals, but all are united in one thing: wanting the best outcomes for our district.

On Thursday, Mr. Ciscomani led the first meeting. The bulk of those on the council attended in person in Tucson. Supervisor John Howard and I were there. Mr. Ciscomani’s staff was there. Most importantly, Mr. Ciscomani was there in person, to see everyone’s faces, to look into their eyes, and to listen to their concerns.

And listen he did. And took notes. He went around the large conference table, letting each person there introduce him/herself and then express which federal issues were of greatest concern to them. He told the council members, “You’re here because you can work with anyone to get real results for our area.”

It was inspiring to hear how many people care deeply about this area, its people, its individuals and businesses, and its industries.

One example.

Often hot-button issues are painted with a broad brush. For instance, we often hear emotion-laden concerns about “the border.” Several different people on the council mentioned it as a concern. Mr. Ciscomani listened to each. It became clear that “border issues” are multifaceted — crime is one aspect, as is national security, but there’s also the trade and commerce aspect and the humanitarian aspect. This group was open to discussing complexities — without becoming impassioned or upset with one another.

That was just one of about two dozen issues mentioned by the council, none of which became controversial or contentious. Instead, we could see were all on the same page — we want to take the great things we have and make them better for the people who live here.

Coming away, I was the most heartened of any political meeting I believe I have ever attended. The idea of many sides coming together with an eye to real results for complex problems for the first time became a possibility in my mind.

Contributed Photo/Courtesy Juan Ciscomani: Rep. Juan Ciscomani, right, greets Josh Jacobsen of Lucky Wishbone, during the inaugural Citizens’ Advisory Council meeting on Thursday.

Now, in case you’re wondering why I was invited to that meeting, so am I. Frankly, everyone else who sat at the table was someone of high title or deep involvement in a single issue. Me? I’m a mom who writes books. In fact, I sort of felt like the token “citizen” on the citizens’ council.

However, I now see it as an opportunity to listen to you and then funnel your concerns to the council and to Congressman Ciscomani himself. Without other community commitments or an elected office, I have time. I care deeply about Graham and Greenlee County, and I am a great listener — and relayer of information.

This means if you’ve got a federal issue you’re worried about locally, reach out to me. Or to John Howard. We’re both glad to be all ears.

Whether it’s regulation affecting your small business, land-use issues such as grazing, water rights problems (on a federal level), an energy policy that affects mining, or border issues and worries like fentanyl — please talk to us. We’ll do our best to bring the issues facing us in Graham County to that table, and put a personal face on what can otherwise be just a bunch of platitudes and words.

Now, back to the assignment of Mr. Ciscomani to the House Appropriations Committee. I’ve been following politics for a long time, having grown up in a fiercely political family, and served at one time on Capitol Hill in D.C., and this is the first time I’ve heard of a freshman being assigned to Appropriations. Many Members of Congress serve 30-plus years wishing for that plum assignment. Why is it so “plum?” Because it’s the committee where all spending bills arise. Every taxpayer dollar is allocated here.

I’ll let that settle for a second.

Our Mr. Ciscomani, in a short amount of time, has impressed House leadership enough that he can be trusted with that assignment.

In short, we are in good hands, and most of all, the man cares about this place — which is visible from the first thing he chose to do with his time in office: come home and talk with the people who are in the trenches of serving the people of this district.

Full list of members on Congressman Ciscomani’s Citizens Advisory Council:

  • Mark Dannels, Cochise County Sheriff; Advisory Council Co-Chair
  • Sharon Bronson, District 3, Pima County Supervisor; Advisory Council Co-Chair
  • Dr. Eric Cornidez, MD, MBA, Chief Medical Officer, Pain Institute of Southern Arizona; Advisory Council Co-Chair
  • Alex Rodriguez, CEO, FreeFall 5G Inc.
  • Alma Gallardo, Executive Director and Editor in Chief, Arizona Bilingual Newspaper
  • Ann English, Supervisor, Cochise County
  • Barbi Reuter, CEO/Chairman, PICOR
  • Boots Hawks, President and Founder, Conservative Freedom Lovers of Casa Grande
  • Bruce Wright, Board Member, Arizona-Mexico Commission
  • Cecilia Mata, President and CEO, AllSource Global Management, LLC
  • David Goldstsein, President, Diamond Ventures
  • Elizabeth Gonzales, CEO and Co-Owner, Diet of Hope Institute
  • Gail Griffin, Arizona State Representative
  • Jennifer Griffith, Owner, Stewart Plaid Publishing
  • John Howard, District 2, Graham County Supervisor
  • John Ladd, Cattle Rancher
  • Josh Jacobsen, Owner, Lucky Wishbone
  • Karla Morales, Chairwoman, Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors
  • Kathy Prather, Superintendent/CEO, Pima JTED
  • Keri Lazarus Silvyn, Partner and Owner, Lazarus & Silvyn P.C.
  • Kimberly Neal, Owner, Eastland Alley Design Co
  • Kristen Garcia-Hernandez, CEO, Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona
  • Lee Lambert, Chancellor, Pima Community College
  • Linda Morales, President, DM50; CEO, The Planning Center
  • Lisa Chastain, CEO, Gospel Rescue Mission and Center of Opportunity
  • Lucretia Free, Founder, Southeast Regional Council and The Vail Voice
  • Ted Maxwell, USAF, Ret., President/CEO, Southern Arizona Leadership Council (SALC)
  • Melany Edwards-Barton, CEO, Sierra Vista Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Michael Guymon, President/CEO, Tucson Metro Chamber
  • Dr. Randy Groth, President, Huachuca 50
  • Ricky Hernandez, Chief Financial Officer, Tucson Unified School District
  • Dr. Robert Robbins, President, University of Arizona
  • Ron S. Campbell, Supervisor, Greenlee County Supervisor; Senior Contracts Administrator, Freeport-McMoRan
  • Sarah Smallhouse, President, Thomas R. Brown Foundations
  • Stephanie Smallhouse, President, Arizona Farm Bureau Federation
  • Steve Christy, District 4, Pima County Supervisor
  • Stephen Miller, District 3, Pinal County Supervisor; Board Member, Central Arizona Project
  • W. Mark Clark, President and CEO, Pima Council on Aging