Climate change, water conservation, energy consumption and environmental policy highlight Marco López Jr.’s list of priorities for this campaign to be governor.
On March 16, the Democrat became the first candidate to announce his intention of seeking the highest state office in Arizona.
“I think Arizona politicians have stopped listening and stopped caring about the issues of everyday Arizonans,” he said.
“If you don’t walk, talk and listen to the people of Arizona, to the small-business owners, to the teachers, to the nurses, and care about what they’re telling you, then you have no business leading.”
As the former chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), López Jr. reportedly managed 60,000 employees with a $12 billion budget.
López Jr., the chief executive officer of Intermestic Partners, said, as governor, he would act to reduce Arizona’s carbon emissions footprint by encouraging “green energy” manufacturing and investing in access to health care resources.
“Arizona is under-investing. You can lose everything if you get sick, because you don’t have access to quality health care,” López Jr. said.
“We’re going to work on behalf of Arizonans to make sure that if they get sick, it doesn’t ruin their financial stability at home.”
López Jr., who was elected Nogales mayor at age 22, said the state “must” protect its natural environment, while balancing that fine line between technology and economy.
As governor, he expects to bridge growing gaps between farmers — ranchers — forest owners and the leadership of the 22 tribal nations in Arizona. He would involve groups who will work together to address climate change, which is a direct threat to our way of life, according to López Jr.
“After bringing all parties to the table, all parties may not only be political parties, but agriculture, development industry, all of our 22 tribes, especially those that have access directly to Colorado River,” López Jr. said.
“That’s a necessity, so we must make sure that Arizona has the ability to grow responsibly into the future.”
According to López Jr., critical partnerships could minimize conflict and improve the overall reliability of the Central Arizona Project (CAP). López Jr. was quick to point out that the current agreement, the Drought Contingency Plan (DCP), is set to expire in 2026.
“We have to act on our water future in Arizona. The management agreement that we are under expires in 2026,” López Jr. said.
“We have to elect the best person with an ability to bring people together to solve this, which has the executive and management experience that can actually pull it off.”
Arizonans need a steady and sustainable water supply and a better understanding of long-term effects when the soil is unable to absorb water on nearby rivers, lakes and streams, according to López Jr.
If elected, López Jr. said he would be committed to developing effective mitigation strategies to protect critical water supplies, which originate in forested environments.
“Forest thinning is key because it also helps prevent and limit forest fires,” López Jr. said.
“Because the forests are so dense, the water absorption that flows downstream is much less because those forests suck it all up with the rainfall that occurs, which limits the snowpack in the winters, and then the water runoff during monsoons and periods of rain.”
As governor, López Jr. added, he would also serve as a steward of Arizona’s natural resources.
“We were cognizant of the fact that future generations should enjoy clean air, clean water, the outdoors, open spaces and have access to those things, the quality of life that you and I have enjoyed.”
Childhood lessons, according to López Jr., of witnessing varying social experiences, introduced different ways of dealing with his life. He credits both of his forward-thinking parents, Marco Sr. and Esther López, for his strong sense of autonomy.
“They (Marco Sr. and Esther) were the first two supporters, and then they were also the ones that always believed in me,” López Jr. said. “You go talk to my parents now, and they will tell you who the next governor of the state of Arizona is going to be.”
According to López Jr., he was greatly influenced by the late Rep. Ed Pastor, who called on him to become a congressional page. It was Pastor, who mentored López Jr. and who would tactfully bridge generational gaps by finding common ground.
“The lesson from the congressman was talk and listen to the people, go knock on their door, make the case to them and let them decide. Don’t let the establishment decide for you,” López Jr. said.
“The bridge is actually the recognition that we have an obligation to live with one another and take care of our spaces and take care of our environment.”