Image credit: Jonathan Simcoe | Unsplash Image

This week in the She’s Trending interview corner, we have Kelli Butler. A candidate for the Arizona State House of Representatives. Kelli is a mom who saw the deplorable conditions of public education and took action. She volunteered with Representative Eric Meyer’s campaign, and through that experience she saw the opportunity to improve the state of Arizona by running for public office.

Introduction

Q: Who is Kelli, what do you do, and why?

A: I am a native Arizonan, a small business owner and a mom. I’m also a candidate for the Arizona State House of Representatives. I’m running for public office because I want to improve our community, and I want to make sure that every child in Arizona has access to a high quality education. There is no better investment we can make in our state’s future than ensuring that the next generation has the opportunity to succeed. I got involved in politics because I saw the dire effects of budget cuts to my own kids’ schools and I felt like I had to do everything I possibly could to change things.

Q: In 2014, the three main components of your platform were investing in public education, creating quality jobs, and protecting children and families. Why are these components important to you?

A: These are all related – we need to make sure that hardworking Arizonans can get ahead, raise their families in safe neighborhoods, and that their kids can be competitive in college and careers by attending great schools. I think public education is the key. Parents need to be able to put their kids on a school bus and send them off to school, knowing that there’s a highly trained, properly compensated teacher at the front of their classroom. Once we improve our state’s reputation around education, we’ll attract new businesses and quality jobs and our economy will improve. It’s all interconnected and I think the piece we’re really missing right now is the investment in our workforce through education.

Q: In an article from azednews.com, it mentions Arizona ranks 45th among the states when looking at students’ success, school finance, and K-12 achievement combined. What is it going to take for Arizona to move up in the rankings?

A: It’s going to take the entire community to get involved and engaged in school policy. Seeing the issues in education first-hand and hearing from students and teachers about their experiences motivates me every day. Along with my campaign volunteers, we knock on thousands of doors a week, just talking to neighbors about current issues. It’s a great feeling when I really connect with someone at their door – I have a chance to learn what’s important to them and talk about how we can improve our state. People are realizing that we need to elect leaders who will make kids and schools a bigger priority.

Ice Breaker

Q: Because you are an Arizona native, what are some of your favorite places to eat?

A: My husband and I are not very creative when it comes to eating out – we seem to always just stick close to home and go to the same places all the time. It’s usually Delux for hamburgers or sushi, and Mexx 32 for fish tacos. We just discovered this great new place, Base Pizzeria that we can walk to from our house. We’re pretty easy going about food and almost never go anywhere too fancy.

Q: We came across multiple pictures of you in Arizona Cardinals gear, so we will assume that is your favorite football team. You think they will end up in the super bowl this year?

A: We’ve been Cardinals season ticket holders since 1994, when they used to play in Sun Devil stadium. If Carson Palmer can stay healthy, I have no doubt they’ll be in the Super Bowl this year. Plus, Larry Fitzgerald needs a Super Bowl ring!

Q: What is your go-to power suit when you have important meetings?

A: I am definitely fashion-challenged, so I try to keep it really simple and just stick to the basics. Suits from Ann Taylor have been working for me lately. I love Nordstrom Rack because they have a little of everything and it’s not too big or overwhelming.

Q: Where is your favorite place to hike in Arizona?

A: My husband and I love Squaw Peak. If it’s not too hot, we try to hike the trail at least once a week for a good workout. Echo Canyon Trail on Camelback is a serious challenge we used to do more often, but I’m sure I’m too out of shape for it now. We also enjoy Mt. Baldy, near Greer, Arizona. The last time I went to Mt. Baldy was with my husband, kids and dog for a backpacking camp trip. It is such a beautiful part of Arizona and we had a blast.

Q: Many strive to be healthy, but have our cheat days every once in a while. What is your favorite candy or dessert?

A: I am definitely a fan of Sweet Republic, since it’s right around the corner from my house. I like the salted caramel ice cream the best. It is one of the best places to have a sweet treat.

Impact Your Community

Q: In June 2014, your interns were teaching you best practices with social media. On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate your social media skills?

A: I would say I’m a 5 on scale of 1 to 10, and that’s probably being generous! Social media is one of those things where you have to be active on each platform constantly. We are on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, trying to draw attention to important issues. It’s a challenge to mix in all the fun stuff with the serious posts. There’s only so much you can do to reach millennials, and social media is a great place to connect with them. I’m learning how to be better, but it’s definitely a challenge.

Q: You are constantly at community events, attending meetings, visiting schools and spending time with your family. What keeps you motivated to continue the work you do and where does your energy come from?

A: It’s the stories I hear from the community and people I work with that keep me going. This Spring, my husband and I were invited to Cesar Chavez high school to be judges for their Seniors’ Portfolio review. The students showcase their high school work and they are incredibly talented and motivated. I couldn’t help but worry though. These amazing kids are focused on their futures – they want to be artists, educators and engineers. I am just so worried that our state isn’t doing enough to help them access the education they’ll need to succeed. Those kids and their stories drive me to do more every day.

Q: Why should voters cast their vote for Kelli Butler for State House?

A: I am running for the Arizona House of Representatives in Legislative District 28, and I’m doing this because I care and I truly want to make a difference. Unfortunately, so many people have a negative view about politics. They feel scared and don’t trust the system or the process. I’m working to change that. I encourage people to contact me directly at (602) 509-2790. I think we need to elect more leaders willing to listen to people from across the political spectrum, so we can learn from one another. Too often, we focus on negativity and the things that divide us – instead we should be working together to create positive solutions.

Q: What advice do you recommend to millennials, who want to change their community?

A: Get involved! We need more women and young people in leadership roles and in politics. On my campaign, we have an amazing group of talented young people, who are so smart and passionate and have so much energy. Most of them got involved because they want a better future for themselves and for others. They’ve realized that state policy will have a huge impact on their lives and they know that they’re making a difference by helping elect leaders who care about their futures. They will be our next generation of leaders and I’m proud to work with so many bright, caring young people.

Q: With all of our interviews, we like to sign off by saying thank you! We know that you’re trending, which is why we chose you to be one of our featured guests. In honor of our tradition, we would like you to finish this sentence…I am Kelli Butler, Arizona House of Representatives candidate in Legislative District 28, I’m trending because…

A: I’m trending because I care about people in our state and I am working hard to create positive change!