"If I can do this, you can do this too."
Whitney has spent her career advocating for domestic and sexual violence survivors and their families. She is a policymaker with a proven record of results and critical reforms including improving access to survivors seeking orders of protection. If elected, she will be the first African American woman to serve as a County Supervisor.
Name: Whitney Walker
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Role: Candidate for Maricopa County Board of Supervisors
Coalition(s): African American, Lawyer
Social Media: @whitneywalkerforaz
Can you tell us about the office you are running for/your current elected position? Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, District 3. The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is a body of five elected officials who oversee an annual budget of roughly $2.5 billion and administer the regulation and voting practices of millions or residents. It is the fourth largest county in the country. I am running for District 3. There are more constituents in my district than in some states.
What made you decide to run for office? Growing up, my family faced challenges that many other single parent households face. So, when we think of the “American Dream” and the opportunities it provides, I am living proof that it can still exist for Arizona families. It is because of my upbringing; I know firsthand what so many families face trying to survive until the next payday or trying to save for school or retirement. After graduating from law school, I spent my career helping families and survivors of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault through public policy and legislative advocacy at the local, state and federal level. This compelled me to envision my community as one that truly believes in equality, access, and opportunity for all. Lived experience is what shapes a leader. Education is an intangible tool that strengthens a leader. The ability to inspire communities to be the change we need is what defines a leader. I have all three and that is why I’m running for office.
What is the most important issue you are focusing on in your campaign? The most important issue facing the communities in my district is the response to COVID-19. To be clear, Maricopa County has huge inequities when it comes to access to health care, education funding, and affordable housing. However, like many other communities, the pandemic has only exacerbated these issues. The headlines are true, COVID-19 is hitting Arizona hard on all fronts: from education, to jobs, to housing, and access to healthcare. Our current Board is, quite frankly, not doing enough to marshal their resources to attack this virus. We were granted $400 million from the CARES Act and, so far, we've only spent 2.5% of it, or 10 million dollars. That's absurd negligence for the 4th largest county in the country. The point of the CARES Act was to frontload our response to nip this pandemic early for the 4.5 million people that call Maricopa County home. That money could be going to small businesses to help them make payroll or to testing and contact tracing so we can get a handle on this virus. People want their representatives to take definitive action. That is the most important thing I'll bring to the Board. A sense of urgency to get our community moving again, safely.
Why is the leadership of Black women needed right now? As the newly elected Massachusetts Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley so eloquently frames her glass shattering win, you cannot have a government for and by the people if it is not represented by all its people. There is a lack of Black women in elected office which is a critical and valuable voice missing from important conversations. Historically Black women have led movements to move America forward, holding tight to our beliefs of equality, liberty, and justice for all. And not only have we led movements, we advanced America’s promises with our voting. If we truly want to create a more equitable America and solidify Black women’s seat at the table, we must bring Shirly Chisholm’s folding chair to the city council dais, county commissioner executive sessions, school board meetings, the boardrooms of governorships, the halls of congress, and all the all the way to the White House with Vice President Kamala Harris.
What advice would you give other women who want to get involved in their community or who want to run for office? I will provide them with a quote that keeps me going “ When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid” — Audre Lorde. If you see a space that needs to be occupied and change that needs to happen, do not let fear stop you. Lean into the vision you have and use your voice to create space for others. You can start by getting involved with your local county party, take candidate trainings like Emerge America, read up on the issues, and then pick an area or office where you know you can contribute. If I can do this, you can do this too.