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AARP Asks Arizona Gubernatorial Candidates Katie Hobbs, Kari Lake Questions Vital to Voters 50+

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Arizona's Nov. 8 general election will feature several tight and closely watched races, including the contest to replace Gov. Doug Ducey, who is term-limited and cannot run for re-election. Among the candidates vying for governor are Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) and former television news anchor Kari Lake (R). AARP Arizona spoke with the gubernatorial hopefuls to see where they stand on key issues for 50-plus voters. Here's what they had to say:

1. As governor, how would you enhance existing transportation options and accommodate population growth by funding innovations in transportation?


Lake: As we build new facilities to accommodate that growth, especially with seniors, I think we need to really plan those facilities around our existing light rail lines and our rapid bus transit lines with the housing that we're going to build. That makes sense. Especially as people retire and maybe they don't want to drive or they can't drive anymore, that is going to be critical, to make sure the housing is where the transportation is. I also believe here in Arizona we need to examine Dial-a-Ride. I've talked to many people who use that service. It's not cutting it. People tell me it's late all the time. There's not enough access. It's expensive for us to run that program, and we could find less expensive ways to get people around more efficiently on time and get them where they need to go by using services similar to Uber and Lyft. Those are great options that we need to have for our seniors. And with great planning, we can do that.

Hobbs: Every Arizonan, no matter where they live, deserves access to affordable and reliable methods of transportation. I'll work to continue Arizona's success in attracting high-tech businesses that are revolutionizing the tech sector, who can bolster our efforts to shift to transportation with cleaner emissions and lower fuel costs. We also need to work to expand opportunities for seniors to engage in the shared service economy, such as ride-sharing, to help them get to important medical appointments. While Arizona companies work to get closer to a future with more freedom of movement, I'll work with regional planning authorities to provide funding that prioritizes the needs of seniors. We must ensure Arizonans have access to affordable public options for transportation, like senior center shuttles and disability- accessible public transportation. And I'll continue efforts to increase the number of sheltered bus stops in areas of high demand.

2. What is your plan to address the affordable housing crisis in Arizona as governor?

Affordable Housing

Hobbs: I have decades of on-the-ground experience as a social worker, and my first job out of college was working with homeless youth in Phoenix. As governor, I will make sure we tackle our housing crisis from all sides. First and foremost, let's make sure Arizonans can stay in their homes as they get older. I'll work to lower housing costs, put new protections in place for those at risk of eviction, and invest in new transitional housing and shelters geared towards helping seniors get back on their feet. I'll also work to help seniors receive critical social work assistance. We must ensure seniors who have safe and secure housing already can age in place. This greatly improves quality of life for seniors, so we need to make sure they can do so safely and affordably. That's why as governor, I'll ensure seniors receive the support they need by funding a home repair and safety assistance program, which includes important plumbing repairs, installing safety products, and retrofitting entrances for accessibility.

Lake: Boy, we do have a housing crisis, affordable — and any kind of housing — crisis. We just need more homes. My plan is to declare a housing crisis. That'll help us cut the red tape, and we need to start building housing and building it quickly. Obviously, we don't want to cut any corners. We want safe housing and solid housing, but we need to cut some of that red tape so we can get shovels in the ground and get some housing built. We do have a rental assistance program here in Arizona that's designed to help seniors, and guess what? It has money in it, but a lot of people don't know about that program. So we need to do a better job advertising that program so our seniors can get that help. And once people are onto the program, make sure we keep putting money into it. We also, and this is I believe the most important, want to help seniors stay in their current existing housing. With the inflation being as it is, it's getting very difficult for them to stay in their current housing. Anything we can do to make that happen, we will.

3. As governor, what workplace retirement options would you implement to help more Arizonans save for a more secure retirement?

Retirement Savings

Lake: Arizonans have a lot of retirement options, and mainly that is a federal tax policy issue, not a state policy issue. What I want to do is help make sure seniors, the money that they do have, their retirement they do have, goes a long way. I really am horrified every time I hear a story about a senior losing their life savings or a portion of their life savings through scam artists. This is a crime that is on the rise, and we need to make sure, especially with the number of retirees we have here in Arizona, we are coming down hard on these people who are scamming and stealing money from our vulnerable seniors. That's going to come with aggressive enforcement. We will do that and we will put the punishment behind that crime. Also, as everyone knows, we're dealing with a situation with terrible inflation. Our economy is in a bad place right now, rising tax bills and food costs, and that is affecting seniors the most. So we're going to put forth policies that cut basic taxes, sales tax, food tax and rental tax here in Arizona. That will help seniors.

Hobbs: We need to make sure retirement dollars go further for Arizona seniors. I'll work to make over-the-counter medications tax free, empower our attorney general through new legislation to end price gouging of essential prescription drugs, and prohibit pharmaceutical companies from raising prices to exorbitant levels. I'll work to address the rising cost of living in Arizona, working with the legislature to provide a rebate for lower-income seniors who face high utility costs. And finally, we need to address the root causes of a lack of retirement savings. That's why I'll work to ensure more Arizonans can move into higher-paying jobs with full benefits ahead of retiring by making career and technical training more accessible. I'll also engage with employers and key partners to encourage more companies to provide retirement plan matching programs and help employees take advantage of new options available to them.

4. As governor, how would you ensure that older and vulnerable Arizonans have access to safe, affordable, high-quality care, both at home and in long-term care facilities?

Long-Term Care

Hobbs: As governor, I will make sure our older and vulnerable populations are truly taken care of in these long-term care homes. In the Consumer Protection Plan I released this summer, I proposed passing a law ensuring taxpayer funds are being used properly by the attorney general's office to vigorously investigate bad actors and protect the elderly from fraud and abuse. As an extension of this plan, I will ensure the state has the resources needed to hold bad actors accountable who are neglecting or abusing Arizonans in their care, and I'll work to deliver more funding to ensure we aggressively prosecute anyone who perpetrates these acts against our older and vulnerable communities, or is otherwise neglecting their duties to care for them.

Lake: It's so important for our seniors. A lot of problems right now in our state medical system. And I think that fixing it starts with accountability. We need more accountability, and frankly, I believe we need new leadership at our Department of Health Services. Regarding the facilities, we have many facilities that are in bad shape. And we frankly need to expand our facilities to accommodate all of the people retiring. Make the needed repairs. As things are falling apart, we need to make sure we stay up on top of our repairs. I'll be honest, I don't think our system was ready or expected to cover this retiring baby boom wave. And right now we have a lot of people retiring. We need more facilities. So let's fix up the facilities we have. I frankly think it's disgraceful that these senior facilities where we're hearing about stories about rodent infestation, or even a lack of basic sanitation, we can't have that for our seniors and we're going to do better for them.

Also of Interest:

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