In Phoenix, Everything Is Grand

By Willey, Keven | The Masthead, Summer 2002 | Go to article overview

In Phoenix, Everything Is Grand


Willey, Keven, The Masthead


The grandeur of the Grand Canyon. The restorative solitude of a Mexican beach. A rich Native American culture, vibrant international trade, and a leading center for Mars exploration.

You'll find it all in and around Phoenix. These are just some of the reasons NCEW should select Phoenix as the site for its 2005 national convention.

Yes, Phoenix is known the world over as a resort city, home to world-class golf courses, luxurious resort hotels, and great restaurants. But it's also home to the Heard Museum, one of the world's acclaimed collections of Native American artifacts, and the Desert Botanical Garden, which has done pioneering work worldwide on water-conserving plant cultivation. Arizona State University in neighboring Tempe is a leading center for Mars exploration.

Just three hours' drive north is the Grand Canyon; three hours south are the beaches of Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point) in Sonora, Mexico.

There's no shortage of editorials here, and the topics resonate nationally. Phoenix is a leader in the emerging Southwest. Latinos account for about a quarter of the population, and growing -- up some 88% in the just-released census. Mexico is our largest trading partner, and Arizona companies are fully engaged in helping Mexico build a modern infrastructure. Mexico's new president, Vicente Fox, will be nearing the end of his term in 2005 and likely would make a scintillating keynote convention speaker.

Other issues key to Phoenix and Arizona are among the hottest in the country: charter schools (Arizona has more of them than any other state), sprawl (desert preservation is the key driver in Arizona's growth mangement debate) and population churn (for every three people who move into Arizona, two leave).

Arizona is home to many Native American tribes, most of which are working through issues ranging from gaming, tribal sovereignty, and political integration of tribes to education and poverty.

Arizona truly is every political columnist's dream come true. The state has boasted four major presidential candidates -- Barry Goldwater, Morris Udall, Bruce Babbitt, and John McCain -- none successful. Yet. We've wrestled with defamed Charlie Keating, a legislative bribery scandal called AzScam, and indicted ex-Governor Fife Symington. This rock-ribbed bastion of conservatism has moved steadily and progressively toward the center of the political spectrum and now boasts one of the Democratic Party's rising young stars -- former U.S. Attorney for Arizona and current state Attorney General Janet Napolitano.

Indeed, Arizona is the only state in the nation where the top five elected state office holders were, until recently, women. …

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