Arizona small business owners raise alarm about need to protect democracy

Press Release
October 17, 2022

Frank Knapp

Arizona small business owners raise alarm about need to protect democracy
Recognize U.S. House candidates for their support of Congressional reforms


Phoenix, AZ—Today the Arizona Business for Democracy collaborative urged voters to be concerned about protecting democracy and announced the results of an Arizona Congressional candidate survey.

“Small business owners understand that a strong democracy is essential for a vibrant entrepreneurial economy where small businesses flourish.,” said Gayle Shanks, co-owner of Changing Hands Bookstores and a leader of the small business collaborative.  “The two go hand in hand. We are raising the alarm about losing our democracy.”

Joining Ms. Shanks at the press event were other members of the collaborative.

“Without a strong democracy all the input from voters will go in one ear of politicians and out the other. That’s because these officials will have locked themselves into office by manipulating or changing voting rules,” said Cynthia Phillips, Founder of 22nd Century by Design and the Disruptive Factory in Phoenix.

“Our democracy is being threatened by those who want to win office even if they lose the popular vote.  They advocate for suppressing voters they don’t like and giving legislatures the ability to ignore voting results if they do not suit them.  Our nation is better off when all of us contribute to our economy and have a voice in who leads us.  That is the hallmark of our democracy. It simply makes for better government policies and a better economy,” said Dr. Matthew Whitaker, president of Diamond Strategies Consulting in Mesa.

“In the US, politicians are already pushing for censorship of journalists, libraries, bookstores, and classrooms. Theirs is a major effort to subvert our democracy and to bring us one-party rule. Our democracy is on the verge of slipping away and we small business owners understand that if it does, we will lose our vibrant entrepreneurial economy, and the opportunity to create, to be heard, and to prosper,” said Bob Sommer, co-owner of Changing Hands Bookstores.

The Business for Democracy collaborative conducted a survey of all the Arizona candidates for the U.S. House and Senate to determine which candidates would support three Congressional reform bills that would provide firm and stable support for America’s democracy (see below).

Arizona House candidates Jevin Hodge (CD 1) and Javier Garcia Ramos (CD 5) completed the short survey and indicated that they would support each of these bills.

It is important that voters know where candidates stand on protecting democracy and who is committed to passing reforms to do that if they are elected,” said Ms. Shanks.  “Democracy and our economy are on the ballot in November.”

Arizona is one of eight states that have built Business for Democracy collaboratives.

Business for Democracy is a campaign of the American Sustainable Business Network.

Voting Reforms Needed to Protect Democracy and Our Economy

The aftermath of the 2020 Presidential election shows how critical voting reform is needed to guarantee free, fair, and secure elections that will not only ensure that the will of the voters is honored but that our vibrant, entrepreneurial economy will continue.

Congress must pass three pieces of legislation either before this November’s election or in 2023.  These bills form the three-legged stool providing firm and stable support for our democracy.

Electoral Count Reform Act of 2022.  This 1887 law governing Congressional procedures for how state electoral votes for president and vice president are cast and counted should be reformed to update the vague and outdated language.  The Act needs to be reformed by Congress to confront electoral subversion at both the state and federal levels by helping ensure that partisan politicians cannot substitute their own preferences for the judgment of the American people in presidential elections.  This bipartisan bill has 11 Republican and 10 Democrat co-sponsors and is supported by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.  This bill would modernize and revitalize the Voting Rights Act of 1965, strengthening legal protections against discriminatory voting policies and practices, guaranteeing equal access to the ballot.

The Freedom to Vote Act.  The bill improves access to the ballot for Americans, advances commonsense election integrity reforms, and protects our democracy from emerging threats. Importantly, this proposal reflects feedback from state and local election officials to ensure that the people responsible for implementing these reforms are able to do so effectively. This bill also elevates the voices of American voters by ending partisan gerrymandering and rooting out the undue influence of special interest money in our politics.


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