My name is Vernon Parker and I stand before you today, September 23, 2009 to ask for your support to be the next Governor of the State of Arizona.
I am doing so because we in Arizona are in difficult times. I am no stranger to difficult circumstances. I grew up in difficult circumstances. As a child I saw things that no child should have to witness—drugs, violence and their disastrous effects.
As we stand and look at this brilliant sunset, some would say that the sun is setting on Arizona. I see it differently. I see the sun rising and a bright future for Arizona. I have over come many obstacles and together we can overcome the obstacles that we face in this great state.
God has been good to me and my family, and today I live in Paradise Valley, Arizona, with a beautiful wife and family, who are my best friends, the people who helped make me who I am.
I love Arizona. I love its beauty. I love its people. But most of all I love that this is a place where anyone can become anything that they choose. And I stand before you today as an example that anyone, no matter where they began, can become anything they want in this great nation and this great state.
Many of my friends from days past, the people I grew up with, even members of my own family, have not been so fortunate—some are now dead or in prison from drugs, violence and missed opportunities. Maybe that’s why I have such a passion for protecting children, protecting life and promoting opportunity.
I’m now the Mayor of Paradise Valley, one of the most affluent zip codes in America, a far cry from where I came from.
But how did I get here? Education was the key. I learned that grades not graffiti were the path to success. I remember as a child my grandmother asking me to read the Bible to her. She could not read herself, but she was a wise, intelligent woman who taught me a lot. She put all of her hopes and dreams into me becoming an educated, successful person.
Every Grandmother wants this for their grandchild, and every parent wants this for their child.
And while giving parents a choice in education is important, we must look to innovative solutions, to programs such as Teach for America, to help us preserve and strengthen the public school system.
We must ensure that the funds are there to keep classrooms small and empower teachers to teach. Public school served me well.
Helping you help yourself is the role that government should play and I am a direct beneficiary of this role. I was fourteen years old when my mother seized an opportunity to send me to one of the better public high schools in the area where I lived. Because of this opportunity, I saw a different lifestyle, and I knew I wanted more out of life than my neighborhood could offer.
I went to public school for K-12, on to community college, and then to the public University, ultimately ending up at Georgetown University Law School.
Every student in Arizona who wants higher education should be given that opportunity. We must explore expanding the role of community colleges, creating more competition and opportunities, to ensure that the dreams of these students come true. I admire our enterprising universities but I also want to see more enterprising students. That’s why I think we must give every consideration to a higher education system that allows public money to follow students to public colleges or universities of their choosing, including a new state college system. This would ensure that middleclass children, and children in rural areas would have greater access to higher education.
As a Republican, I believe that the role of government should be limited.. Our system works best when we help each other and ourselves. However, there is a role for government, one such role, a crucial role is that of securing our borders.
Every available resource should be dedicated to this effort. This is a safety and security issue. The flow of drugs and violence must be stopped!† Arizona and America cannot live behind an unlocked door that is open not just to people seeking opportunity, but to people threatening our way of life through violence and drug trafficking which has led to human trafficking and terrible suffering.
Second, Arizona faces a financial crisis not seen since the Great Depression. And, Arizona faces a crisis of leadership. This is a time when all Arizonans must work together to rebuild a strong Arizona.
In difficult times leaders can lose common sense. Raising taxes and selling government buildings, only to lease them back, makes no sense.
I, like all mayors in this current climate, face difficult choices. People think that we in Paradise Valley are immune from the recession. That is not so, we had to cut our budget by 25%, making difficult choices.
But the one choice I fought, and fought hard, was against a proposed increase bed and sales tax here in Paradise Valley. The road to success is not through a massive tax hike as proposed by the current administration. This is a mistake, and a big one.
History has shown that you cannot tax your way into prosperity—Ronald Reagan knew this, Margaret Thatcher knew it, and so does just about every businessperson in Arizona. Taxes hurt businesses and in particular small businesses, the backbone of this state and America.
After years of massive increases in state government some are now frightened to shrink it. I am not. Some have had the opportunity to turn off the spigot and failed to do so.
Third, I believe if we are serious about job creation in this state, we must phase out corporate taxes, ultimately eliminating them. This would send a strong reform message to America and especially to our second border—the one between Arizona and California—that Arizona is the place to do business. California businesses are looking for an escape route and Arizona should roll out the welcome mat. Our motto should be come on over! If we do phase out the corporate tax, believe me, business will flock to Arizona and an upswing in revenue and in jobs will follow. I know one person who would oppose this, his name is Terry Goddard. He would call it a give away, I call it a give-a-job to a person in need.
As I started to explore a run for Governor I have been humbled by the level of support for my candidacy. But I also get asked—Can he do it? Well, when I ran for Paradise Valley Town Council I answered the question. I received more votes than anyone in the history of the town—67%. I was then elected mayor. I said I would serve only one term as mayor. I committed to that because it was the right thing to do for the community. It was not about titles. Exploring the governorship is not about titles, it is about our future.
Now some have called me a novelty. Let’s address that from the start. Let’s not sweep this glaring issue under the carpet. Yes, if elected, I would be the first mayor of Paradise Valley ever elected Governor of Arizona. Help me make history!
Running for governor is a challenge and I have always met challenges head on. I did so as an under privileged kid growing up in California. I did so as a small businessman trying to meet payroll. I did so when I was asked to serve as a pastor of a small church here in the Valley. I did so working on behalf of two good people, Len Munsil and Matt Salmon, who sought the Governor’s Office in years prior.
And I did so when I took on one of the most difficult jobs in the federal government, Assistant Secretary at USDA. People were protesting in the streets, and had taken over government buildings. I brought them together.
The Budget at USDA was nearly $90 Billion dollars. I had to participate in the budget process making difficult choices to cut programs. I have worked with a Congress dominated by a different party, but we got it done. My entire career has revolved around working with those who have not seen eye to eye with me, bringing them together to find common solutions.
Recently, my family and I faced a very difficult and different challenge. But I faced the challenge head on. I fought back when the federal government attacked me in a politically motivated investigation that is now thankfully over. Initiated by a Democratic Congresswoman during an election year when it was big sport to go after anyone associated with the Bush Administration—especially if you can get a New York Times headline out of it, it is an example of government at its worst.
But with the help of former U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton, we fought back to clear my family’s name and to ensure that when government abuses its power, it will be challenged, and defeated.
I believe a weak border is a threat to Arizona. I believe an enormous tax hike is a threat to Arizona. I believe a weak economy is a threat to Arizona. I believe a failing education system is a threat to Arizona. I believe we must take steps to protect Arizona from the very real threat that appears to be Congress’ new recipe for health care. And I believe Arizonans should step away from political clones that come off an assembly line waiting their turn to become Governor. We should not nominate one professional politician to take on another. We need to tell professional politicians to get a real job. Being governor should not be an entitlement. Being governor should be about serving others, not about a paycheck.
Now is the time for a new direction in this state. Now is the time for Republicans to nominate someone who can fight Terry Goddard on his turf, instead of he on ours. Now is the time to nominate someone to unite Republicans instead of dividing them. Now is the time to seize this unique opportunity to revitalize this state and comeback to the sound principles and common sense solutions for which we have always been known. Now is the time to say good-bye to sunsets and hello to sunrises. Now is the time for a new face, a fresh voice, and a passionate advocate for a new direction for Arizona. Ladies and gentlemen, now is the time to shake it up!
Thank you for listening and may God bless you, Arizona and the nation we love.