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Bruises are purple (with Rep. Laura Terech)
27th April 2024 • Moderate Party • Moderate Party
00:00:00 00:45:19

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Arizona has undeniably stepped into the national political spotlight in recent years, from contentious debates over abortion bans to its pivotal role in both the 2020 election and the upcoming 2024 battle. In today's episode, Hillari sits down with Representative Laura Terech to gain insight into the Arizona political landscape and delve into her remarkable journey from kindergarten teacher to influential political figure in the state. They also discuss why, after a very successful term in the Arizona Legislature, she's made the difficult decision not to seek re-election.

Recorded live at the New Deal Leaders Idea Summit, this episode explores the challenges and triumphs of navigating Arizona's divided political landscape as a moderate voice in an increasingly divided country. From personal struggles to professional victories, Terech's story of transformation and empowerment is full of insights and inspiration for Moderates everywhere.

Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Sources that helped inform this episode:

Guest: Rep. Laura Terech

Representative Laura Terech (Legislative District 4 - Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, North Phoenix) is a proud product of Arizona public schools, including both the University of Arizona and Arizona State University. After earning her master’s degree in education, she taught kindergarten and 2nd grade in a Title I school district. She is the ranking Democrat on the House Municipal Oversight & Election committee and also sits on House Education. Representative Terech also had the honor of serving as the House member on Governor Hobbs’ Bipartisan Elections Task Force. Rep Terech has been instrumental in securing a water supply for communities in Arizona such as the Rio Verde Foothills and negotiating a fix for the election recount law.

Outside of the Legislature, Terech serves as the Training Director for the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization Civic Engagement Beyond Voting.

Connect with Rep. Terech: Facebook | Instagram | X/Twitter | Website

Transcripts

[:

[00:00:17] It was a really cool event. It's a place where policy makers and thought leaders from across the country can get together to discuss pressing issues facing our country.

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[00:00:42] An influential figure in Arizona state politics. Representative Terech has been on my radar for a while. So when I knew that I was going to be attending this event and I saw her name on the roster, I knew I had to get her on the show so that you guys could hear from her.

[:

[00:01:39] Thankfully, since we've recorded it, the Arizona state house passed a bill to repeal the ban.

[:

[00:02:02] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

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[00:02:16] Rep. Laura Terech: I did. Yes.

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[00:02:19] Rep. Laura Terech: I'm a proud product of Arizona public schools. I went K 12 here and then I got my undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona and then my master's degree in education from Arizona State University. So I joke that I just need the Ph. D. from Northern Arizona University and then I will have covered the entire state. The desert is amazing. a huge part of who I am. I also went to graduate school in New York. And when I was away it was like a physical I didn't feel quite myself without being in the desert.

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[00:02:54] Hillari Lombard: What characteristics, would you associate with people from Arizona?

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[00:03:07] Hillari Lombard: In Sacramento, it gets pretty hot in the summer and I look to Arizona for perspective

[:

[00:03:12] Hillari Lombard: so that I can just grow up and be a big girl.

[:

[00:03:15] Hillari Lombard: At least it's not 1

[:

[00:03:19] Hillari Lombard: I've started to treat the summers the way that people of old used to treat the winters. Like I'm like, you mustn't go outside.

[:

[00:03:37] Rep. Laura Terech: It has honestly served me so well down there. They joke at the Capitol that I have kindergarten teacher energy, but truly I'm very patient, patience for days, and I just don't take the bait. Sometimes my colleagues across the aisle will, tweet at me or what have you. And I just I never respond. you know, we Have heated conversations sometimes, and I'm just very measured and very focused on the work that we need to do at hand. And it has really served me well down there.

[:

[00:04:12] Rep. Laura Terech: so I was teaching kindergarten and I had my 36 kids, sitting on the rug in front of me, which is too many for a single classroom. And it was the morning, getting going on our reading and I was reading them a story and I heard this terrible crack from above and I looked up at the ceiling and I just thought, Oh my gosh, that's coming down. And sure enough

[:

[00:04:33] Rep. Laura Terech: the ceiling. So the ceiling collapsed over my kids as I was teaching, and thankfully I was able to jump up and shield the kids so I was the only one injured, but this is the state of education in Arizona. And then I was still in the classroom when the state stopped funding full day kinder and I saw what a difference that made for my students, especially in a Title I school district. Many of them have not had the benefit of going [00:05:00] to, pre K. Which that early childhood piece is so important for our kiddos.

[:

[00:05:27] And of course, I never heard back from him, but I thought, all right, if you're not gonna come to my house and take care of my kids, then I'm gonna go to your house and change the laws.

[:

[00:05:47] You

[:

[00:06:12] Hillari Lombard: And if I am correctly informed those early childhood years are the biggest determinant of how successful you'll be later in life.

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[00:06:20] Rep. Laura Terech: Life, right?

[:

[00:06:39] To get into the workforce. And, I mean, it just ties into so many things. Productivity for companies, because parents aren't, if they can depend on high quality, affordable child care, they're not needing to miss work for things. And people who offer that care that so such important care for our kids, making sure that they're paid a living wage as well, since it is so crucial, that work.

[:

[00:07:05] Rep. Laura Terech: I hope so. I recently held a forum at the Capitol and I was so delighted. It was bipartisan. We had members from both chambers. And we had leading experts in the field of early childhood. I'm talking about exactly that. If this is such an important investment to make, and it is an investment, there's no doubt about that. But it pays dividends later on down the road in any number of ways.

[:

[00:07:35] Hillari Lombard: He doesn't get back to you and you're like, buddy, I'm coming. Or is it a more gradual process to get to that decision point?

[:

[00:08:05] I was asked four times, I said no three times and yes once and it just didn't, it wasn't the right time, wasn't the right race. So I went to work for Representative Jennifer Pollack in her 2020 race. So I got a really good look at what it takes to campaign, especially in a purple district. And then my professional work outside of the legislature, one of my jobs since I have several.

[:

[00:08:47] So in 22, I decided to take the plunge and I always felt that I would be uniquely suited for a battleground district, for a swing district. So I won, I'm a Democrat. I won in a district with a 20, 000 person voter registration advantage for the Republicans. Why

[:

[00:09:03] Rep. Laura Terech: I go back to that kindergarten teacher, I'm very focused on, here are my policies, here's my platform. This is why I am, pragmatic and focused on the work at hand. I'm low drama. I think , and I really put in the work and really do my best to listen to all of my constituents. My district is a third Republican Democrat independent, and I don't want any one of those groups to feel that they're not being heard, even if they don't always agree with me. And I took that message to the doors.

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[00:09:34] Rep. Laura Terech: response like? I think our team knocked, tens upon tens of thousands of doors.

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[00:09:57] Hillari Lombard: Do you consider yourself a moderate?

[:

[00:10:04] Hillari Lombard: Yeah. For yes. I even find it difficult as a podcast that is moderate to hold that space sometimes. But I'm curious what being a moderate means to you.

[:

[00:10:35] I vote yes on Republican bills all the time and I work with Republicans all the time. I think that's another part of being a moderate is, there's also the mentality of let bad policy die. Well, If we can, sure it, but if we can improve policy, we should try and work together. And I think a lot about how divided our country is and what the way forward is for that. And I think it's not, it's never going to get better unless we try to talk to each other, try, you know, there are issues that we will simply never agree on. But. But hearing the other person's perspective and finding that common ground where you can I think is vital work.

[:

[00:11:14] Absolutely.

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[00:11:46] Hillari Lombard: One of the polls that I think back on all the time is when you ask people if their representative should compromise and work with the other side, they say yes until Compromise that they don't agree with and then suddenly they say no, so i'm curious when you're holding that moderate space Did you find it difficult to justify that to your district or were they receptive because they are a more

[:

[00:12:07] Rep. Laura Terech: My district was receptive, but what's interesting is that there really are only a handful of purple districts in the state.

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[00:12:45] Hillari Lombard: So when you're running your campaign, you're uniquely suited to this district, you're you're knocking on doors. How's that for you emotionally? Is it a hype train that never stops or imposter syndrome? Like, where are you at when that's happening?

[:

[00:13:05] I always thought that we would get the seat, when I was running in 22 because we had just redistricted, so it was an open seat. I always thought we would get the seat. I had a hard time picturing myself in it for some reason. Just because it was something that I'd worked so hard for and that I'd wanted very much.

[:

[00:13:39] That's your entire job. And I remember I was driving to a canvas in October. He looked down at my cup and I had forgotten my soda or my caffeine for the morning and I started crying and I was as surprised as you are. I was like, what is happening right now? And I was just so exhausted because you just, I was wearing down every single day and never recharging because we'd just been going so hard for so long, but I always knew that's what it would take.

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[00:14:15] Hillari Lombard: it was,

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[00:14:18] Hillari Lombard: Is that just how it goes in Arizona or is that an unusual turnaround time? I mean, The

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[00:14:35] Hillari Lombard: Did you experience any kind of like relief or yes, we did it, or were you just that's great, next thing?

[:

[00:14:57] So I was filled with a [00:15:00] profound amount of gratitude for that effort that went in.

[:

[00:15:05] worked on a campaign before you ran one of your own. And I'm curious, when you get to office, do you feel like your expectations were Accurate like that. You had a good idea of what actually governing would be like, or was that a difficult adjustment for you?

[:

[00:15:40] It's a very, just a very toxic place and as prepared as I was for that going in it, it surprised me even still.

[:

[00:15:51] Rep. Laura Terech: Yeah and just and I knew this would happen, but the absolute refusal to move good policy if it comes from Democrats, particularly Democrats in competitive districts. I had a bill that I ran.

[:

[00:16:38] No flags, nothing came up. And then it was put up for third read, our final vote of the entire body. Put up and pulled, put up and pulled, put up and pulled. And at a certain point people were saying I've never seen a bill put up and pulled this many times. What's going on?

[:

[00:17:00] Hillari Lombard: Wow.

[:

[00:17:04] Hillari Lombard: even on something that incremental, it's not like there's a huge interest group of like school blueprint enthusiasts that you need to. Wow.

[:

[00:17:12] I had a similar experience both last year and this year with a bill to prohibit the practice of suspending students out of school for absenteeism alone. And it's just So hard when good, simple free policy doesn't move forward simply because of the letter next to your name and the seat that you occupy, I think Arizonans deserve better.

[:

[00:17:54] And I, I don't want to do that to half of our state.

[:

[00:18:03] is, I don't, it's not good for our state to just have one party with that much power because it's like the Republicans are I don't want to say that they're like furniture for the building But it's like nobody will take meetings with them like their staff makes less they have less staff like it's very much like a caste system by party and I think that it's like then you have people in your state that don't feel like they have a voice and they just get progressively more and more radicalized in their own silence of representation And I think that arizona Being more of a purple state might actually have a better chance at being able to maintain representation while also having a Democrat majority because I feel like there are more pragmatic Democrats in Arizona.

[:

[00:18:56] Rep. Laura Terech: I absolutely believe that's the case, and, certainly we've seen from the strength of the leadership of our statewide elected officials, Secretary of State Adrienne Fontes who's here today Governor Hobbs, Governor Katie Hobbs, and of course, AG Chris Mays they've displayed exceptional leadership and we have a outstanding crop of folks running for office in 24.

[:

[00:19:21] Hillari Lombard: hmm.

[:

[00:19:24] And I hope that's that's something that evolves as we continue in Arizona.

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[00:19:34] Rep. Laura Terech: Oh, absolutely. I mean, One of the things that we've talked about I've had this conversation many times with with one of my colleagues across the aisle, who's a very good friend talking about limiting the number of bills that can be brought forward from each member. And that if that was done, the agreement would be that every bill is heard.

[:

[00:20:09] heard.

[:

[00:20:13] Rep. Laura Terech: type of training? Potentially there, there are members who are very prolific, run hundreds of bills each session. I'm not sure how they would feel. And in Arizona, we have a number of deadlines.

[:

[00:20:50] And surely you could put safeguards in place that if something, if you have a support of the majority of the body or, two thirds that you could bring something forward even outside those parameters as a safeguard.

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[00:21:27] Rep. Laura Terech: I'm a kindergarten teacher at heart and I think credit where credit is due that was representative Alex Colleton.

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[00:22:07] Hillari Lombard: And when you, so you never think you're going to work with him and then you

[:

[00:22:11] Hillari Lombard: how does that happen? You just knock on his door like, Hey, former enemy, let's be

[:

[00:22:15] Rep. Laura Terech: his door? Hey, former enemy, let's be friends.

[:

[00:22:27] Then the Rio Verde situation happened. And so Rio Verde is a community in the northern area.

[:

[00:22:41] Restricted that access and said, we're after this date, we are no longer going to provide that water because They're in an unincorporated area of Maricopa County, they then did not have access to Any kind of, they were relying completely on either wells, their own wells or hauled water.

[:

[00:23:12] And it was like, no, this is not, there has to be a different way through this.

[:

[00:23:31] So let's get to work on this. And that process was five, six months of meetings, and Drafts of that bill and going out to the community, you know, I went up to a community meeting there and I think I was the first Democrat who had ever visited. I got to know the residents and it was hard to balance all of the interests of what exactly the community wanted, but Our primary goal was getting them water and it was an interesting bill because of course with any issue there's pushback and there's the kind of feeling of they bought in this area.

[:

[00:24:17] Whether that's on our, in our rural areas, our tribal nations, that's something that all Arizona residents deserve access to.

[:

[00:24:38] If you say you're going to do something, do you do it?

[:

[00:24:45] Rep. Laura Terech: Yes, and that so Arizona passed a bill in 2022 that changed our recount margins. So as a result of that, we anticipate an enormous number of recounts. And because of just the timing that all of that takes our [00:25:00] elections departments needed additional days in their calendar.

[:

[00:25:26] First time in history, Arizona is a pivotal state in the election.

[:

[00:25:32] Rep. Laura Terech: Yeah. A lot of people had worked on this, for months prior, but the real, crunch time of hammering out exactly what it's going to look like happened over a period of about three days, I did not eat, I did not sleep.

[:

[00:26:05] And we voted it through the house and got through, went over to the Senate And I sat up in the gallery along with Representative Culloden and our chief policy staffer for elections on the Democratic side and then the representative from the counties. We were all up there together and watching that bill come up on the board, I just started crying because I was so relieved.

[:

[00:26:43] Hillari Lombard: and were you able to feel your own contributions to that achievement in real time or is that something that you look back in hindsight and you're like, oh yeah, I did that thing and that was cool.

[:

[00:27:10] We can do hard things again, like stick with this. What else can we do? And being really creative, I think that popped up in Rio Verde. And then again, with this as well, sometimes to find these good bipartisan solutions to things, you do need to think outside the box, which is an exciting challenge.

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[00:27:32] Hillari Lombard: That's amazing. Would you say that it's one of your greatest achievements for your time in office?

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[00:27:58] Hillari Lombard: When you do. These big bills and you find a partner on the other side of the aisle, do you ever get pushback from your own party?

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[00:28:21] Hillari Lombard: Get hate emails for this podcast and they're

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[00:28:26] Hillari Lombard: I think that's one of the difficult things about being a moderate is that you Get it from both sides constantly and one of the things that's more tiring is when you get it from People that are more ideologically aligned with you.

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[00:28:42] Rep. Laura Terech: Absolutely. Absolutely. I when we voted on the budget last year it was a bipartisan budget.

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[00:29:06] I said my job is to take the punches from all sides and stay standing. And someone said to me once they said bruises are purple.

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[00:29:17] Me too. Me too.

[:

[00:29:21] I think on the note of fighting, You first hit my radar. When I saw your response to a trans bathroom bow.

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[00:29:30] Rep. Laura Terech: I want to speak to you now as an elected official of this state. To our trans youth to our LGBTQ youth. I am sorry. I'm sorry, you have a state legislature determined to make your lives harder. I'm sorry, you have to think about legislation like this when you should be thinking about prom and college and what you're going to do after you graduate. It doesn't right. And I didn't come down to the Capitol to legislate hate. So, what I also want to say to you is that you do have champions down here. You do have [00:30:00] people who will stand up for you because you are valuable and valued, and we see you. We respect you. We care about you and we will not stop fighting for you. Without I vote. No.

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[00:30:11] Hillari Lombard: I'm really curious if you've always thought of yourself as a fighter, or if that's an identity that's developed for you through your time in office.

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[00:30:21] it's two things can be true at once, right? I very much think of myself as a peacemaker, but I also do think of myself as a fighter. And that's one of those issues.

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[00:31:00] And that's something that I will always fight for. And I wanted those kids to know, those are packed rooms. Like sometimes committee, you have three lobbyists sitting in the front row and that's it, but when we hear bills like that, those tend to be packed rooms. We have members of the trans community members, the LGBTQ community in that room and watching, and I wanted them to know, That you do have people down here at the State House who are fighting for you and who really vehemently do not agree with this type of legislation,

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[00:31:36] Rep. Laura Terech: It's a stretch. zone. And I think that it's also important to be thoughtful about when and how you do that.

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[00:32:11] And, every party, both sides watch the other side's caucus. And one of my colleagues across the aisle came to see me after that and was like, Whoa, I had no idea that you thought this bill was this bad. Can we work on it? I was like, okay. But if you do that all the time, it's, it just becomes background noise.

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[00:32:39] Hillari Lombard: If you're chicken little all the time, I think you become less credible. It's oh, you're just upset. You're like an upset person all the time. And I think there's such strength in. being level headed on things like that. But an issue that I am not level headed on is women's reproductive rights, like everything in moderation except women's liberty and bodily autonomy. And I would be remiss not to ask you, the Arizona Supreme Court chose to uphold a abortion ban from before Arizona was even a state.

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[00:33:09] Rep. Laura Terech: I wish I could say that I was. No. It's part of a, larger trend, disturbing trend, across the country. And it's, it really worries me. It's because it reminds me of the issue about responsible gun legislation, which is something that a huge majority of Americans support. A huge majority of Americans and Arizonans support access to reproductive health care.

[:

[00:34:01] We, we certainly have our abortion initiative coming up that will be on our ballot in November. But yeah it's, our attorney general called the bill draconian and I have to agree.

[:

[00:34:20] Like you get rid of them for a reason.

[:

[00:34:26] Doctors didn't even know that they should wash their hands. It's unreal. Yeah.

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[00:34:36] Rep. Laura Terech: I have not.

[:

[00:35:06] Rep. Laura Terech: And good thing that guy is deciding laws for you know the millions of people in this state. It's and It's like the headline dog catches car, right?

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[00:35:36] But it's also Very frustrating. This is what you wanted. This is what did you think would happen when row

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[00:35:44] Rep. Laura Terech: And so in so many ways, it's too little too late. And I believe those politicians will be that their voters will hold them accountable at the ballot box in November.

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[00:36:05] Rep. Laura Terech: Well, I'm happy. She's finally recognized that Governor Hobbs is indeed our duly elected governor. So that's a positive. But Donald Trump as well. My goodness.

[:

[00:36:17] yeah,

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[00:36:20] Hillari Lombard: I am optimistic, however, because, and perhaps naively but I think that you've seen in state after state, there is overwhelming support for women's reproductive rights. I was very upset when Roe fell and very scared, honestly. And I think that even when you have every county in Kansas.

[:

[00:36:51] Rep. Laura Terech: Yeah, and I, one thing that I, Want people to know particularly in Arizona We do have the abortion initiative but citizen initiatives have had a rough go of it here in the last several years we fully expect that it will be challenged in court and So so if people if this is something you're passionate about I would encourage you to donate to that effort because we do expect this to go to litigation and the same Arizona Supreme Court that just instituted the Civil War era ban will potentially hear that as well.

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[00:37:35] Hillari Lombard: Particularly the attorney general, right? Because if I recall, she won her race by 200 votes,

[:

[00:37:43] her .

[:

[00:37:50] So the final thing that I want to get into with you is your decision not to run for re

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[00:38:07] Rep. Laura Terech: it was, um, It

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[00:38:25] A lot went into it. Some of the things that I do want to highlight is pay. This decision, financial, you know the financial considerations had a lot to do with this. My situation changed a lot between 22 and 24 and in Arizona lawmakers make 24, 000 a year. And to, so I have three jobs the legislature, I have my work with a non profit and then I substitute teach

[:

[00:38:48] Cost of living is high in my district. I had to sell my house at a loss in February and I had to liquidate savings just to be able to stay in my district. And I was very concerned, knowing how much work it is to win in a purple, I was very concerned that because of how much I was needing to work, just to keep myself afloat, that I wouldn't be able to put in that time and effort.

[:

[00:39:33] And then on a personal note you find all kinds of things at the legislature and something that I was not expecting to find there was. Was love. My partner is also he's a now former state house representative. And so what I joked to people, I said we've been legally prohibited from living together up until this point, because, we represented different districts.

[:

[00:40:15] And I hope one day that we can pay our lawmakers more and that it becomes an easier environment to work in, because that's certainly part of it too. And I also think You know, for any elected official, people very often forget that we are real people. And the level of kind of communication and support and respect that, You depend on I mean it has to be there and just yeah that recognition that you know I go to the grocery store.

[:

[00:41:06] We had a police detail on our campaign for some time. We were being, there's a video threatening. With an AR 15 and we've seen that, people have been imprisoned for their threats against County Recorder Richer and Supervisor Bill Gates has spoken quite openly about, the aftereffects of what he, everything he's gone through for certifying the 2020 and 22 elections, rightly so just recognizing that you can vehemently disagree with people, but there's still a Human beings and that , that type of behavior is, hurts us all.

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[00:41:46] Hillari Lombard: But it's if running for office becomes prohibitive for everybody except those that are in like this more affluent class, then. the majority loses representation, at least like through an economic lens. And I think that is how you get laws that favor one group over the other is when you don't have a voice that's at the table.

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[00:42:14] And can you just brush them off, or is that naive, or?

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[00:42:37] So I don't know how well that would, how well that would go over. But I was talking with someone the other day and they were saying, and this is an elected and you're saying Along with my spouse and, we make 400, 000 a year and that's really not that much. And I was just thinking no, it

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[00:42:58] Rep. Laura Terech: it's a lot. And, I make nowhere close to that. And, for working folks, you deserve a voice at the legislature to bring all kinds of perspectives. And Yeah it's sad. It's difficult, but I'm hopeful and optimistic about my next steps.

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[00:43:21] Hillari Lombard: And listeners, I will say that Laura's refused to tell us what those next steps are either on or off the record. But one thing that I will ask you is, is your next step political?

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[00:43:30] Yes.

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[00:43:31] So I guess we'll all just be Googling and conspiracy theorizing about what that next step would be.

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[00:43:46] Rep. Laura Terech: Oh, I would love to. It's been an absolute pleasure and

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[00:43:49] in, in all things moderation, right?

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[00:43:52] reproductive choice.

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[00:43:55] Absolutely.

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[00:44:19] one of the issues facing moderates everywhere is that we're too quiet. So take a note from Laura's book and get a little bit louder. I also want to extend one final. Thank you to the new deal forum for hosting a great event in Phoenix. I had a great time and it really encouraged me to see so many leaders coming together to make meaningful change in their communities. . To Learn more about them and their work, head over to the new deal forum.org, and to learn more about the new deal leaders, head over to new deal leaders.org.

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[00:45:16] We're there. Thanks for listening. We'll talk again soon. Stay safe guys. Bye

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