Strong Families, Healthy Children Topic of Town Hall

Legislators must begin allocating money and other critical resources to support Arizona’s families and children, according to more than 50 community leaders and activists during a Sept. 6 Prescott Town Hall.

The statement was one of several made in response to the question, “If you could tell Arizona’s elected leaders just one thing about what children and families need most, what would it be?”

This first response was among several gathered during a town hall organized by Arizona Town Hall. Comments occurred during a full morning meeting on the Embry- Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) campus.

ERAU Chancellor Anette Karlsson welcomed participants who came from throughout the county.

“We want this community to realize that Embry-Riddle wants to be a supporter of events that are for the benefit of the entire community and state,” she said.

During discussions led by Pat Norris, chair of the Arizona Town Hall board of directors and a retired judge from the Arizona Court of Appeals, respondents shared comments and built consensus statements. They then become a part of a larger report to be compiled during the annual statewide town hall.

Consensus statements included:

Healthy societies depend on strength of families. Elected leaders need to expand their thinking processes and prioritize their legislative actions to include providing full funding for Arizona needs in public education and programs that benefit families.

  • It should be mandatory for all elected officials to visit public schools to educate themselves on the impacts of their decisions.
  • Leaders need to recognize that strong families are the foundation for community prosperity. Leaders must be bipartisan in recognizing that strengthening families transcends partisanship.
  • Leaders need to be actively involved in the communities they represent and support family resource centers.
  • Leaders need to understand that supporting Arizona families saves money and fosters prosperity in the long term.

Several attendees agreed that the heart of democracy is at stake in the support of strong families. Yavapai College Humanities Professor Sukey Waldenberger urged that every citizen 18 years or older has the right to vote, so they need to be educated about key issues regarding the future of families so they can vote intelligently.

Billie Orr, an Arizona Town Hall board member and Mayor Pro Tem of Prescott, emphasized there are no city boundaries when it comes to caring for families and children.

“We must do whatever we can do to put our arms around every family and every child to be assured they are safe, have food and a home to live in,” Orr said.

Arizona Town Hall President Tara Jackson concluded the meeting by inviting all present and their friends to attend the 112th annual town hall. It is scheduled Nov. 14-16 in Phoenix and will involve registrants from virtually every community in Arizona. While there, participants will compile the final report on — “Strong Families, Thriving Children.” The complete report will then be distributed to elected and appointed officials, educators and community and civic organizations.

More information about Arizona Town Hall is available at townall@aztownhall.org.