Back on the Job

U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick returns to work after taking a leave of absence to get treatment for alcoholism

U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (second from right): “I think two of the major things I’ve learned a lot about is addiction and how prevalent it is in the country.”
U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (second from right): “I think two of the major things I’ve learned a lot about is addiction and how prevalent it is in the country.”
U.S. Representative Ann Kirkpatrick met with constituents during a one-on-one event, Congress On Your Corner, at the Murphy-Wilmot Public Library on Saturday, Feb. 29. This is the congresswoman's first public appearance in Southern Arizona since receiving treatment for alcohol dependence, along with physical therapy after broken bones from suffering a fall in January in Washington D.C.

"This is our eighth Congress On Your Corner and it works. I want to make sure I'm accessible," Kirkpatrick said. "It's nice to be here today talking with my constituents and doing the job I was elected to do."

She said her recent experience has taught her a lot about addiction and helped her shift her focus from economic-related issues to health care.

"I think two of the major things I've learned a lot about is addiction and how prevalent it is in the country," Kirkpatrick said after the event. "I don't feel like we fully appreciate what it does to our country and I want to make sure we have the mental health resources to address that."

Kirkpatrick met with nearly 40 people who were in attendance during the two-hour event. Cindy Bishop, a nurse and veteran, said she was most concerned with mental health since three of her family members are on the autism spectrum.

"I'm concerned about autism. I would like to know what Congress is doing about providing mental health resources," Bishop said. "The whole mental illness spectrum is really hurting right now in our country, so I just want to ask her about that."

Mia Scott is also concerned about the nation's health care. She suffers from an orphan disease called alkaptonuria (AKU), a rare, inherited genetic disorder of the metabolism that causes joint pain, cartilage damage and kidney stones. An orphan disease is defined as a disease that affects less than 250,000 people worldwide, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders website.

"Today is International Rare Disease Day and I've come to speak to our congresswoman because I suffer from a rare disease," Scott said while waiting to meet with the representative. "My hope is to get the word out because these disorders are so rare that not a lot of people pay attention."

Scott said she wanted to specifically talk with Kirkpatrick about the Nutrition Equity Act, a bill that requires insurance companies to provide life-sustaining health care at a federal level. She's hoping the congresswoman may be able to help get the legislation passed.

"Oftentimes the diseases are invisible and can be very debilitating," Scott said. "I also want her to know that I support her journey and appreciate everything she has done for the community."

Other Tucsonans, like retired educator Barbara Madison, were also at Congress On Your Corner to express support for Kirkpatrick and thank the congresswoman for her continued service, especially when it comes to educational issues.

"I think (Kirkpatrick) is so brave and I'm so proud of her for stepping up," Madison said. "I appreciate her support for public education. She has always been on our side."

Kirkpatrick is up for reelection in Arizona's 2nd Congressional District this year, something she said she doesn't take for granted. She said she knows Republican challengers will be eyeing her seat. The first day to file for running for legislative office started on Monday and potential candidates will have until April 6 to throw their hats into the race.

Currently there's a fair number of relatively unknown challengers on both sides of the aisle hoping to unseat Kirkpatrick: Republicans include Brandon Martin, Joseph Morgan, Jason Bacon, James Schmidt and Shay Stautz. Kirkpatrick could also face challenges from within her party, with Democrats Nevin Kohler, Andres Portela and Peter Quilter on the campaign trail.

"We're always concerned with potential challengers. I never take that for granted, " Kirkpatrick said. "The (filing) deadline is in about a month and we'll have a better idea of who is jumping in the race."

About The Author

Comments (5)

Add a comment

Add a Comment

Tucson Weekly

Best of Tucson Weekly

Tucson Weekly