Peshlakai named treasurer of Mark Kelly campaign
State Senator Jamescita Peshlakai (D-Cameron), spoke at the launch of the Mark Kelly campaign for U.S. Senate, held recently in Phoenix. Peshlakai has been named as treasurer for the campaign.
Peshlakai is one of the first Native American women to serve in the Arizona Legislature, and the district she serves, Legislative District 7, one of the largest on in the country, encompassing all of Apache and most of Navajo counties and several Indian reservations.
Kelly, a retired astronaut and the husband of former U. S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, announced his candidacy for the senate seat currently held by Martha McSally, and formerly held by the late John McCain.
Kelly is running as a Democrat, and may face U.S. Representative Ruben Gallego in a primary race. Gallego, however, has not yet announced whether he plans to abandon his seat in the House to run for the Senate.
Kelly is well-known for his support of his wife’s activism on behalf of increasing gun regulations. Giffords was the victim of a shooting in 2011, along with 18 other people, six of whom were killed. Giffords was conducting a “Congress on your Corner” public event near Tucson in a grocery store parking lot at the time of the shooting and was shot in the head.
Kelly is a Navy veteran and a former NASA astronaut, who acted as pilot or commander on several Space Shuttle Endeavor missions. Kelly’s twin brother, Scott, was also an astronaut.
Together with Giffords, Kelly formed a superPAC to fund and advocate for tougher gun laws after the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting. The PAC was formerly known as Americans for Responsible Solutions, but the organization joined with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence in 2016, and is now simply known as Giffords.
“I’ve been able to, once in a while over the years, to meet with Gabby Giffords, and support what she does. And I’ve met with Mark several times over the years,” Peshlakai told the Independent Tuesday in a telephone interview.
Peshlakai said that when Kelly began to consider his Senate run, her name came up in conjunction with a possible treasurer’s position.
“I think one of the determining factors was that they really wanted to reach out to rural and tribal Arizona,” explained Peshlakai, adding that her role with the campaign is “very much like a senior advisor.”
“I think one of the things he really wanted to work on was reaching out to these communities to find out what the issues are, and find out how to work on that to deliver to rural Arizona what they need from the next U.S. Senator,” she said.
Peshlakai said that many of her beliefs align well with Kelly’s.
“We’re interested in many of the same things, fighting for affordable healthcare, raising the standard of living for working families, veteran’s issues,” she said noting that both of them are Gulf War veterans.
“We really see eye to eye on a lot of things, environmental protection, a science-based approach to the environment … we are for responsible gun ownership and taking care of communities that are vulnerable, such as schools, hospitals,” Peshlakai noted.
Peshlakai said that she shared the Navajo creation story with Kelly, noting that she told him that according to that story, Native Americans also sent the first twins, like Kelly and his brother, into space.
“In the creation story of the Navajo, children of the first woman, Changing Woman, had twin sons who became warriors, and they traveled to the sun to see their father,” she explained.
“I told him that in the Navajo, we already had twin warriors who did space travel,” she said with a chuckle.