An invitation was sent out recently to a luncheon and public forum called "Senior Action Day," hosted by the Governor's Advisory Council on Aging.
The announcement said, "Talk with your legislators. Shape the future of aging in Arizona." Yet, not one single state legislator was present for Senior Action Day at Globe City Hall on April 20, not even a staffer.
The overflow crowds quickly filled the 143-seat chamber room, requiring many to stand or sit in folding chairs. Seniors were ready to talk about the high cost of rural health care, few doctors and health care professionals, difficulty of transportation to local medical appointments and the lack of affordability for transportation for shopping in further, larger population centers.
Of special concern were senior services, such as help to remain in one's own home, help for daily activities, hot meals and social participation to stave off depression. Younger audience members presented the hardships that grown children have with their distant parents and the need for more careful screening of vendors who cater to vulnerable seniors (such as home repair and lenders).
The Governor's Advisory Council on Aging coordinated a series of seven events throughout the state, rather than have the single Capitol Lawn Event, as in the past. This Action Day was the sixth, and specifically for District 5 (Payson, Show Low, Globe, Safford, Holbrook and St. Johns) jointly with District 2 (Flagstaff, Chinle, Window Rock, Peach Springs and Kayenta).
As I see it, the point is not which legislators were not there, so I won't name the two senators, nor the four state representatives. The point is that seniors traveled long distances and made special arrangements for transportation for a time-consuming and exhausting day to speak sincerely to their duly elected officials. They believed that this engagement was as special to the legislators, as it was to them.
These were all the constituents who are willing to study the issues and communicate them. But it was a one-way affair that won't soon be forgotten for its disappointment and lack of respect to them as voters.
Ginny Creager, Payson