Throughout human history, contention dominates nearly every time period. Even today, in the recent past, we still have a lot of history which shaped today’s world. June 28, 1969 is the day Stonewall Riots made history in our country. When the LGBTQ community said, “ENOUGH! ENOUGH ALREADY! We are human beings too.”
This is why, on that monumental day 50-years later, my campaign launched the 1st official event to start what I know will become a historical moment for all of us to endure upon.
As the adventure into public life unfolded, all of 2018 I did a lot of self-reflection. This included spiritual, emotional and most importantly, mental. I say this because mental health is vital to being successful, no matter who you are, no matter where you’re from. Mental health does not only mean talking with someone, but honestly, talking with someone helped get me through some incredibly challenging times. This is why I am such a strong advocate for expanding mental health services here in Arizona.
It was not too long ago that I felt lost, lonely and disconnected from society. During my time in the military, I was bullied almost every single day because I am gay. After the military, and being deployed to Iraq multiple times, I found myself struggling with substance abuse, being angry, dealing with severe PTSD. It took years to recover, to fight, and to find peace again. My partner Ivan was there for me during this difficult period. He pushed me, loved me, never gave up. To his credit, he has managed to stick by me for over 12-years and counting.
As a candidate for State Senate, canvassing neighborhoods, I talked with a mother whose son was a Marine and deployed during the initial invasion into Iraq. She told me her son left as a genuine, caring and loving human being, but came back raging, angry, ready to fight everyone around him, including his own mother. This was me at one point too. Her son still to this day struggles with the ailments of war, being arrested and unable to cope with the fact that his PTSD exists. The stigma is real, and we must fight harder to combat it, for the sake of our veterans and for the sake of her son.
She nearly cried when I told her I was a Veteran, who wants to help people like her son, and fight to make sure we offer and provide the services needed to address such painful experiences from war. Our nations Veterans are coping with some of the most difficult issues one can imagine, over 200 Veterans in Arizona alone take their own lives every single year, 22 Veterans nationwide take their own lives every single day. It is because of this that I will fight to increase services for Arizona Veterans, and try to save as many lives as possible.
When we look at the politics of our country, we see systemic issues embedded in systems of government working for those who can afford to lobby our elected officials. The reality is not everyone receives equal treatment or representation, something that continues to plague our democracy and damage our citizens. This is why I am running as a clean election’s candidate, to show the people of Legislative District 24 that I will not answer to special interests and big corporations, but rather, to you, the voters. Other members in the race are beholden to special interests and big corporations since more than 50% of their campaign funding comes from them. Not me. Not ever. That is a promise I will make here and now. Because democracy cannot be purchased, and neither can I.
I need your support to keep pressing forward into the fight for our community. We all know campaigns take time, volunteers and money to operate. This is why I am asking for everyone in here today, contribute to our shared vision for the future, up to a maximum of $170.00. I need all of you to sign our nomination petition online at www.ryanforarizona.org, encourage everyone you know around you to do the same and find it in your heart to believe in a better future, for all of us, and together, we will take a stand against the injustices that plague our current system of government. Our campaign is exactly that, OURS, each and every person in here is part of this campaign. I will be a tireless advocate for LGBTQ rights, for our Veterans, expanding mental health services and fighting for education of the future, rather than the broken system of the past.
I leave you with this: I am an imperfect human being, who made mistakes in life, made choices both good and bad. Don’t we all wish we had someone to talk us out of at least one bad decision? Thankfully, I had someone to talk me out of many bad decisions, and that is what is at stake. A decision to repeat the failures of the past, or desire to fight for a better future. Thank you.
Ryan A. Starzyk, State Senate Candidate