Fryer for Arizona Blog

Watch the debates

[Note: updated 8/13/18 to include links to videos from the latest debates and forums]

My primary opponents in the governor’s race have been running for more than a year, yet 48% of likely Democratic voters were still UNDECIDED according to the one and only independent poll that has been taken since I got into this race. That makes the debates between the 3 Democratic candidates for governor super important. Most of the scheduled debates have already happened, so for your convenience, they’re all listed below with links to watch videos. Watch and share!

Here is the hour-long debate that aired on Arizona Public Media on July 31st. It was co-sponsored by AZ Central and ASU Walter Kronkite School of Journalism – this is the “big one!” (watch video)

Click the image to watch the AZ Republic & PBS Debate

Upcoming Arizona Governor Debates/Forums:

August 21 – Scottsdale – Hosted by Arizona League of Cities and Towns (4:30 p.m.)

You’ll never have to wonder what my position is on all the issues. Be sure to visit my Issues page for the most robust positions on the most issues of any candidate in this race – and watch previous debates and forums using the links below.

WATCH Previous Arizona Governor Debates/Forums:

August 14 – Paradise Valley – Hosted by March for our Lives (watch video here)

August 8 – Phoenix Debate – Hosted by Arizona Center for Economic Progress (there were video issues – watch the first part here and the second part here)

August 7 – Flagstaff Debate – Hosted by Coconino County Dems (watch video)

August 4 – Maricopa City Town Hall – Hosted by inMaricopa (watch video)

August 2 – PBS Horizons Debate – Hosted by Clean Elections Commission (watch video)

July 14 – Tucson – Forum Hosted by Tanque Verde Democrats (watch video)

May 29 – Scottsdale – Debate Hosted by Blue Tuesday Democrats (watch video)

May 1 – Scottsdale – Forum Hosted by local PCs (watch video)

April 7 – Tucson – Debate Hosted by University of Arizona Young Democrats (watch video)

March 5 – Chandler – Forum Hosted by LD 18 Democrats (watch video)

Like a boss

One of the tools that traditional campaigns (the kind we all hate) use to defeat their opponents is the rumor mill. The result is that voters just get turned off and tune out. This is one reason voter turnout sucks.

I’m not running that kind of campaign.

I’m also not going to jump every time a troll crawls out from under their bridge to try and get the gossip going with a nasty tweet.

There is one issue I’d like to address, though: How I’m deploying resources to get things done on this campaign.

I’ve spent 29 years in senior leadership and as a CEO. In other words, being the boss. Here’s what a good boss does: Research and understand the opportunities and challenges, cast a vision, put together a hella good team, do a cost revenue analysis, set goals, deploy resources to meet those goals, evaluate, learn, adapt, evaluate, learn, adapt, evaluate, learn, adapt…you get the picture.

For most of my 29 years, I’ve also been working in situations where resources – usually meaning dollars – are scarce at the beginning, and where volunteers make up the biggest part of my team. That’s what it’s like working in the nonprofit world, especially when your area of expertise is turning around organizations that are in trouble. And let me tell you, nothing builds and sharpens your leadership skills more than that. A great nonprofit leader has to be creative, resilient, a little scrappy and a whole lot of inspirational in order to get things done. She also never forgets that every dollar she’s spending belongs to somebody else and was given by somebody who is trusting you to be a good steward.

Me and some of my team at the YWCA Southern Arizona, after our big conference last year.

This is how I’m running this campaign.

Our first goal was: Get on the ballot. Within a month, we had volunteers all over Arizona – 350 of them in 9 cities and towns – working to collect signatures. I personally collected signatures in all 15 counties. A few of our volunteers were superstars. One of them literally would not stop, even after she broke her foot…twice!

Liz and her broken foot celebrating at our primary launch party, right before we turned in 11,000+ signatures.

We only had 4 months to collect our signatures (our opponents had 2-3x that much time), so we hustled! We reached our minimum number (5801) in just 2 months, but we did not stop. We expected a challenge – a lawsuit, filed by an opponent or his supporters, to try and get us thrown off the ballot. We knew we needed to out hustle and outperform both of them.

I also knew we needed to be prepared to defend our petitions, so I retained an attorney. She told us we needed to expect to pay up to $50,000 in legal fees, if we were challenged.

$50,000 of YOUR money.

So, I added a couple of folks my campaign Field Director had worked with on other projects, experienced professional canvassers, to my team. They helped us build a cushion that could not be challenged.

We filed our petitions with 11,017 signatures, more than any other Democrat running for any other office in Arizona this year – so many that it scared off any challengers, kept us out of court and didn’t waste a dime of your donations.

(Over the next few days, we received another couple of hundred signatures in the mail from Democratic district offices that mailed them too late for us to turn them in.)

The cost of turning in all those signatures: One broken foot, a whole lot of hustle from a lot of fired up volunteers and a few thousand dollars.

As your governor, you can expect me to:

  • Have a smart plan that is ready to implement on day one;
  • Outwork any elected leader you’ve ever seen;
  • Put together a creative, diverse team that is 100% committed to the mission of serving you;
  • Inspire folks across the state to work together toward our vision of an Arizona for Everyone;
  • And I will never forget that the dollars we’re spending at the state belong to you – I’ll make sure they get invested wisely and give you the kind of return on your investment that you expect and deserve.

Like a boss.

Not that anyone’s asking…

This week, the chief correspondent at a Phoenix newspaper which claims to “influence policy and define important issues” in Arizona, wrote a story about the ballot initiative that would ban sales tax on services.

(Wait! Did they just say they define what’s important in Arizona? And here, all along, we’ve been thinking that we the people get to decide.)

Anyway, the Arizona Realtors Association is behind this initiative. It’s a big deal in a year when everyone is trying to figure out how to pay teachers enough so they don’t have to move to Alabama or somewhere where they’ll get paid more. (Yes, Alabama.)

This issue is so important that the article in this Very Important newspaper has been shared by half a dozen other media outlets, and the author of the article explained what every candidate for governor has to say about it.

Ok, not every candidate.

They didn’t include me – the only candidate for governor who actually writes about the need to charge a sales tax on some services in order to strengthen our cradle to career public education system on her website.

After the steam stopped coming out of her ears, my campaign daughter/manager wrote about it. You can read her article, “Haven’t heard of Kelly Fryer? Here’s why” on the Medium website, where it is causing a bit of a stir on social media. Please go read it and let me know if it doesn’t make your 🤯.

The really important issue here is the ballot initiative and what it means for Arizona, which is why I’m going to share my thoughts on it and why I will be voting “no” this November. Not that anybody’s asking…



July 5, 2018

Kelly Fryer’s statement on the ballot initiative to ban sales tax on services in Arizona

[Phoenix] The initiative to ban sales tax on services in Arizona is another example of big business trying to write the rules of the game. They’re good at it, too. They’ve dressed this initiative up to look like they’re doing us a favor, but that’s ridiculous. No one has ever suggested taxing you when you take your dog to the vet or get your nails done. Don’t be fooled.

The fact is, this initiative is backed by the Arizona Realtors Association. This is an $8M organization with a CEO who makes $365,000 a year, and they can afford to push through a law that prevents them from being taxed. Meanwhile, the hard-working moms we serve in our workforce readiness programs at the YWCA, whose average income is less than $20,000 a year, pay taxes every time they buy tampons or diapers for their kids.

The rules should be written by the people we elect to write them, not by the richest kids on the block.

Just think about this: In order to pay our teachers enough to get them “up” to 47th or 48th in the nation for teacher pay, we need about $1B a year more in our state budget. You know how much we give away by not taxing financial services, which mainly benefit the wealthy? About $1B a year.

What’s so frustrating is that the Arizona Association of Realtors ought to know better. What do people look for when they’re buying a house? Good schools. Good roads and well-lit streets. Public safety. These are the kinds of things our tax dollars pay for. If the corporate interest behind this initiative gets their way, it will be harder than ever for our elected leaders to raise the funds to make sure Arizona is a great place to live, work, play and go to school.

Arizona’s tax code is a mess. It’s like a sweet little house that has been turned into a monstrosity by owners who have added onto it over the decades with no rhyme or reason. We need comprehensive tax reform and an overhaul of the system to make sure that our taxes are fair, equitable, adequate to meet the needs of our state, and meet the standard of basic common sense. What we don’t need is another law, paid for by big corporate interests, to tie our hands and continue to bleed our budget dry.


Abolish ICE Now


June 20, 2018

Norma Gentry

Arizona Gubernatorial Candidate Kelly Fryer Calls for the Abolition of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency

[Phoenix, June 20, 2018] Kelly Fryer is calling for the abolition of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, known as “ICE.” Fryer is a Democrat running to unseat Doug Ducey and become governor of Arizona.

On her campaign Facebook page, Fryer posted about the order signed by Donald Trump earlier today, ending the automatic separation of families on our border: “This isn’t over. Trump is holding to a ‘zero tolerance’ policy, which will criminally prosecute all migrants and refugees without the right paperwork – meaning it will take just a little more time to split up families. This won’t end until we dismantle ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) – and the racist, fear-based culture that led to its formation in 2003, allowed it to continue under Obama, and has given it horrific powers now under Trump.”

Fryer said she’s thankful so many political figures and others are stepping up to oppose the inhumane treatment of families and children on our border under Trump. But she says she’s seen the impact of ICE on her community even before Trump and she has been an outspoken opponent of anti-immigrant policies, even when they were executed under Democratic leadership. She thinks ICE cannot be reformed, but rather than it must be dissolved so that a new, human-rights based approach to migration can be formed.

“ICE was formed at a time when the nation felt assaulted, angry and afraid,” Fryer said, “Those values created an agency that views everyone who is seeking help and refuge as a potential threat and criminal. That’s just wrong. Sure, there are bad guys out there who want to hurt us and we need a smart, reasoned approach to stop them. But when we start putting children in cages, ripping innocent families apart and violating the human rights of the most vulnerable people on the planet…we have become the bad guys.”

Fryer is calling on Congress to pass legislation ending ICE immediately.

“ICE has not made us safer,” she said, “which is why Americans feel more fearful 15 years after its formation than we did before. Real safety will come when people – both within our borders and beyond them – have adequate food, housing, clothing, employment and education. Real safety will come when we rebuild relationships with our closest allies and have earned the respect of people around the world for our values of freedom, dignity and respect for all.”

Arizona governor Doug Ducey has refused to condemn the Trump administration for its actions to automatically separate families at the border. On Monday, as he announced that he was running for re-election, he touted his “Border Strike Force” and blamed the families whose children were taken from them.


Kelly Fryer, 56-years old, is a Democratic candidate for governor of Arizona. She has been the CEO of YWCA Southern Arizona since 2013, an organization with a mission to end racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. Previously, Fryer was the Executive Director of Arizona List, which elects women to local and state office, and a nationally known Lutheran pastor, seminary professor, author and keynote speaker. She is also an entrepreneur who has owned two businesses, including a retail shop in Tucson and an international consulting company, which offered strategic visioning and leadership development to faith-based, nonprofit and mission-driven businesses across the U.S. and Canada. Fryer and her wife, Tana, split their time between Tucson and their home in Bisbee. They have three grown children and a granddaughter. Fryer is running to create an Arizona for Everyone – and she means everyone. 


Shut up and listen

I think my blog will usually be a little irreverent. But I’m just not feeling it today.

Yesterday evening, community members gathered after the second police involved death of unarmed men, one of whom was black, in Maricopa County (Mesa & Phoenix) in the past week.

I was asked to speak and didn’t.

Elected leaders and political candidates talk way, way too much. Also, I know I have a lot to learn.

So, I just held space with my neighbors and brothers and sisters, and tried to listen.


Neighbors stand on the sidewalk, near Central and Osborn, where an unarmed man was shot by a Phoenix police officer earlier that day.


Some things I learned in a new or deeper way last night:

1. The divide between the police and impacted communities (especially communities of color – of all economic classes – and poor communities) will not be bridged, at this point, without radical transformation in the way policing happens. We will not tweak our way out of this terrible mess.



2. We set ourselves up for this terrible mess, in the first place, by creating a “criminal justice” system, filled with “law enforcement officers,” instead of a PUBLIC SAFETY system filled with PEACE OFFICERS.

Just think about that for a long minute.

Imagine the kinds of things we would be investing in if our goal was THE SAFETY OF ALL people in our communities – ALL people – and not just the “enforcement” of laws.

3. There aren’t enough elected leaders with enough imagination or big enough hearts or enough courage in our state. That needs to change. Now. Because PEOPLE. ARE. DYING.











I published a “criminal justice reform” policy statement and proposals on my website weeks ago. Here’s what I didn’t say, and should have:

If elected, I will form a citizen-led task force – and give it real power – to help us reimagine and re-shape public safety in our state.

And I will do everything in my power to fix this, so help me God.

Man-spreading: Here’s why it matters


A lot of you have messaged me about the man-spreading that seems to have gotten worse since I qualified for the ballot. This new example is my favorite because it literally has the face of the media in the middle of it.


Woe is the media.

Usually I feel sorry for folks in the media. Most of them don’t have enough resources to do actual reporting anymore, and a lot of the media outlets are owned by…well, you know. One reporter I met with last week seemed genuinely sorry that everybody ran a story on May 30th  saying TWO Democrats were running to unseat Doug Ducey (guess which Democrat they left out). When asked to fix it, they basically said, “Well, you know. I work for a lot of old white guys.”


Here’s the Real Problem.

No, it’s not that my feelings are hurt, but it’s nice of you to ask. The real problem is I’m not the only person getting shoved out of the picture. 

I got into this race because every voice matters. I’m going places other candidates don’t go. I’m listening. I’m talking about issues no one else is talking about. (Racial justice, anyone? Criminal justice reform? Economic equity and comprehensive tax reform? Anyone? No, I didn’t think so.)

If my voice gets silenced, so does the young man in Ajo, where you have to drive 2 hours to Phoenix to get a driver’s license (get the irony?) because the state of Arizona has pulled the DMV and almost every other service out of small towns and rural communities — which means a lot of folks just don’t do it, which means they probably can’t vote. 

Who else?

If I’m not in the picture, which potential governor is going to stand against racism with the community to demand an end to police brutality?

Who is going to come to the table with actual, real, BIG ideas that will end child poverty, inject capital into locally owned small businesses instead of giant corporations, make our colleges & universities debt-free for every Arizonan, put our unions to work training young adults for the trades, and create economic development in all 15 counties (not just the great state of Maricopa County).

Who is not going to shut up until we deal with the fact that so many tribal members in our state still don’t have running water, electricity, broadband, cell phone coverage or passable roads — what the absolute %#$&!!!

Yes, we can.

These facts are inconvenient to a lot of the folks in charge. They know the problems are big and they know it’s going to cost (them) money. But, you know what? I don’t care. I’m sick and tired of being told we “can’t.”

Yes, we absolutely can.

When I was a kid, I watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon.

I’m pretty sure we can figure out how to put decent roads on the Res and a driver’s license into the hands of every Ajo-ian.

Welcome to my blog.

I’m not sure man-spreading is a problem on the Tucson streetcar. There are usually so many empty seats, everyone can take two or three. But I’ve been on some crowded subway cars. And here’s what I’ve learned: When someone is trying to push you out, push back. 

So, welcome to my blog.

My team spoke to KTAR today and apparently Mr. O’Neil would love to have me on his show…in July.


I’m not going to hold my breath for the traditional media to give me a fair shake. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have the conversation about what really matters.

Somebody’s gotta do it.












On to the primary!

On to the primary!

With Arizona’s next First Lady right after I qualified for the ballot.

At 5:30 p.m. on Tue, May 29th, I filed with the AZ Secretary of State and was officially added to the ballot as a Democratic candidate for governor of Arizona in the Aug 28th primary election. We filed 10,986 signatures – nearly 2x the required number and more than any Democratic candidate for any statewide office – and we did it in just 4 months. (UPDATE: We brought in additional petitions before the deadline and actually filed with 11,017 signatures!)

Our message of #ArizonaForEveryone and our bold, progressive campaign is getting support from folx across our state – in spite of best efforts by the establishment to make us look invisible. Also, my team of volunteers and my staff are bad@%$!, and no one is working harder. Thanks to all of you who helped make this happen. On to the primary!

As we launch the next phase of this campaign, here are 4 things I want you to know:

#1 – People come first.

My focus is on building real relationships with Arizona voters – especially those who have been ignored by the political establishment of both parties. I’m going places where candidates never go.

That’s my strategy because it’s the right thing to do. I also think it’s the only way we win. People will vote because they know they are being seen and heard by a candidate who actually shows up and listens. And we have to win because there is so much at stake.

As governor, I will lead our state in:

  1. Drafting and funding a 15 county economic development plan.
  2. Reforming the tax code to spur economic growth, narrow the wealth gap and fully fund public school education.
  3. Implementing universal health care in Arizona.
  4. Forming an Environmental Justice League to create a more sustainable future for our state.
  5. Making sure the local public school is the best school for every child in every neighborhood.
  6. Defending and expanding voter rights and civic engagement.
  7. Making our criminal justice system a model in the nation for human rights.
  8. Creating a Truth & Reconciliation Commission to acknowledge and end the racism that is embedded in the structures, laws and policies of our state.
  9. Protecting our kids and all of us with sensible gun safety laws.

For too long, we’ve had leaders who put their own agenda, ego and profit first. I’m putting people first.


#2 – Don’t get hung up on endorsements – they’re made for all kinds of reasons, not all of them good.

I’ve won 60% of the handful of endorsement applications that I’ve submitted (most groups had already picked a candidate, officially or unofficially, before I got in), but I wouldn’t have spent a lot of time on this, even if the timeline was different. Some groups (Our Revolution-East Valley, I’m smiling at you) have a painfully thorough endorsement processes and their decisions are based on a serious vetting of a candidate’s policy positions, experience, character and campaign plan. I appreciate those groups, the work they do, and the time they take to make thoughtful decisions.

But some endorsements are made just because you’re the first or the only one to apply. Some are made using outdated metrics to determine who they think can win, like who can raise the most money, even though those old rules are being broken all across the country. Some are based on personal relationships with political elites and back room deals within the political establishment. Some endorsements serve the needs of the endorsing organization, as much or more than it is meant to serve the voters. Take them all with a grain of salt.


#3 – I’m in it to win this election. But this campaign is bigger than that.

I jumped into this race because the people I love and the communities I care about are in danger – and we have a real opportunity this year to do something about it. But I was watching the political kingmakers, who have lost every gubernatorial race since Napolitano, losing this one, too. An establishment campaign isn’t going to win this year. I think I can.

But this is about more than an election. I’m running this 15-county, radically inclusive campaign to bring real reform to Arizona and make our state work for everyone – everyone.

So, my platform and policy proposals aren’t based on whatever is most politically expedient or what expensive consultants and handlers are telling me I should think/say/believe.

I don’t have handlers. I have a moral compass. I have a commitment to human rights. I have specific, thoughtful policy proposals that will put people first and make Arizona work for everyone. I have a lifetime of experience fighting for these things. And I’m not going to change direction if the political winds shift. This is who I am, who I have always been, who I will always be.


#4 – We are already winning.

Our campaign is changing the conversation and the dynamics of this race. Because of us, other candidates are having to talk about issues they weren’t talking about before – like economic inequity, tax reform, structural racism, poverty and the private prison system, for example – and they’re having to go places they weren’t going before. We are making visible what has been invisible and we’re making sure EVERY voice gets heard. In my book, that’s already a win.

So, I’m going to stay focused on what really matters in this election and I’m counting on you to do the same. Together, we are making real change happen in Arizona.

On to the primary!


P.S. Want to get involved?! Click here!

P.P.S. This people-powered campaign depends on donations from folx like you. Click here to chip in what you can afford. Thank you!

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