AU professor and Congress candidate greets city hall on campus

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Potential US Congressional candidate and current University of Arizona environmental law professor Kirsten Engel answered students’ questions at a town hall hosted by the AU Young Democrats on campus Thursday evening October 7.

Engel resigned his position in the state legislature in early September to focus on his campaign for a seat in Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District. The current incumbent of this seat, MP Ann Kirkpatrick, is retiring at the end of this legislative session.

In telling the student audience gathered at City Hall about his motivation to run, Engel expressed a desire to make Arizona a better place for his daughter and future generations of children.

“What really drove me there was that I came here with my young daughter, and when I first came to Arizona and put her in public school, I realized how incredibly underfunded our public school system was here in Arizona, ”Engel said. “I saw in the foreground how Republicans were taking money to educate our children and youth and that made me angry. It motivated me, and I was like, “Gee, I’m going to do something about this,” and I ran for office. ”

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Along with her passion for funding Arizona’s public education, Engel says she’s also committed to fighting mass incarceration, voting rights, and women’s reproductive rights, among other issues. However, at the forefront of his list of goals in Congress is a focus on climate change, especially as the issue is impacting his Tucson constituents.

“The thing that I would really love to do in Congress is, you know, first and foremost, work on climate change,” Engel said. “We all read the headlines about water scarcity almost every day. For the first time, a shortage has been declared on the Colorado River. I don’t know how many of you know, but the Colorado River provides all the water we drink here in Tucson, Arizona, and 40% of the water used in the state.

This passion for environmental action dates back to the beginning of Engel’s career. After earning a law degree, she worked at the EPA and gained experience in environmental policy and bureaucracy.

“I started my career at the EPA after graduating in law. I was there for a few years, learning the ins and outs of government bureaucracy, ”Engel said. “I got a little fed up and went to the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, which is now Earthjustice, the leading national environmental group, where I worked for several years before teaching at Tulane Law School in the New Orleans before working in Massachusetts. Attorney General’s Office where I head the Environmental Protection Division.

Engel currently teaches environmental and administrative law at the University of Arizona. Engel used his role as a teacher to try to increase civic and political engagement among students like those gathered at Town Hall.

“I taught a course on the legislative process,” Engel said. “And so I’ve really tried to share what I’m doing in the legislature and make it more accessible to students so that they understand the process and then can engage in it and stand up for themselves. “

The confidence Engel maintains in her ability to secure this vacant seat stems from her history as a candidate in the region as well as the precedent set by the women who have held the seat in the past.

“My constituents represent 30% of the voters in the congressional district, so I’m actually a little well-known in that district. I have won elections three times in this district and this district is used to electing strong Democratic women, from Gabrielle Giffords to Ann Kirkpatrick, and I would be very proud to follow in their footsteps, ”said Engel. “I’ve won every race I’ve raced for, and I’m not about to stop now.”

The Democratic primary for Engel’s potential seat will take place on August 2, 2022, while the general election is set for November 8, 2022.


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