Attorney General race: January Contreras touts her public service

Democratic candidate January Contreras was recently endorsed by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden for the position of Arizona Attorney General. (Photo courtesy of January Contreras Campaign)

Name: January Contreras
Political party: Democrat
Position sought: Arizona Attorney General
City of residence: Phoenix
Occupation: Founding CEO of Arizona Legal Women and Youth Services

What is the greatest issue Arizona residents face? If elected, how would you address this issue?

Contreras is a proponent of honesty in politics – a quality lacking among politicians in recent years, she said.

If elected, she said she would focus on representing the people of Arizona, as opposed to corporations, political donors or special interest groups.

“People feel like they’ve taken some hits, whether it’s public education or health care, and they want someone on their side again,” Contreras said.

She would fight the “us versus them” mentality and said both the Constitution and consumer rights are being challenged daily on the federal level.

What other issues are important to you and your campaign?

As a fourth-generation Arizonan, the 47-year-old Contreras said she wants to ensure the state protects vulnerable citizens, such as children in the foster care system, people with disabilities and seniors.

She said she also would support litigation for environmental conservation.

And she places a high priority on providing assistance to victims of domestic violence and human trafficking. Her platform involves educating the public on sexual assault prevention, especially on school campuses across Arizona.

“What would that be like – to have an attorney general who actually is focused on holding universities accountable, but also hoping to build a culture of mutual respect?” Contreras asked.

What in your past work, political or volunteer experience makes you a better candidate to hold this office?

To Contreras, the biggest difference between her and her opponent is that she “never left public service.”

After she graduated from law school at the University of Arizona, she served as both a county and state prosecutor, as well as a nonprofit attorney. Through these positions, she said she has been exposed to countless facets of the justice system – experiences that permit her a better understanding of public safety and how to provide it.

She advised former Gov. Janet Napolitano on policy matters for 12 years. During her time at the Department of Homeland Security, Contreras helped create the Council on Combating Violence Against Women. She was involved with the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence as a volunteer on its board of directors. She established Arizona Legal Women and Youth Services, a nonprofit foundation for women and children.

What is a personal challenge you feel you need to overcome?

Contreras said her greatest personal challenge is “not feeling like it has to be me to take on every issue.”

She said it is difficult at times to say no. A magnet on her refrigerator serves as a personal reminder not to overwhelm herself.

Please share a quote or advice that guides you.

Her favorite quote is “To whom much has been given, much is expected.”

Contreras said she has been “extremely blessed with opportunity” throughout her life, even when obstacles presented themselves. With the support of her friends, family and the “forces” that be, she pushed through difficult times. Now, she said she feels an obligation to help others through their own challenges.

What app on your phone could you not live without?

Contreras prefers to keep her phone as uncluttered as possible, but she said she does use Facebook fairly often.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Whether the issue is health care, student loan debt or consumer protections, Contreras expressed that it’s vital that voters elect politicians who support the “power of people” – as opposed to officials controlled by corporate money.

“It’s an exciting moment for Arizona where, regardless of party, people are demanding more integrity,” Contreras said.

She said she’s called Arizona home her entire life, and “it’s worth fighting for.”

Campaign website for January Contreras.

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