PHOENIX (AP) — Before he joined the Arizona Legislature in 1972, there weren’t any major freeway systems, professional sports stadiums or health care for the poor in Phoenix. But after 14 years in the state Senate, Alfredo Gutierrez helped change Arizona entirely.
Now at age 72 and slowed by a brain injury caused by a freak accident that temporarily left him unable to speak, hear, or walk properly, Gutierrez is leaving a decades-long career in public service.
Gutierrez said he doesn’t want to spend the “seven or eight good years” he has left “arguing with right-wingers.”
“I need to get on with doing something great again,” said Gutierrez, who left the Maricopa Community Colleges Governing Board in January.
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During Gutierrez’s 14 years in the Legislature, the Arizona Department of Transportation officially was established, which to this day oversees the construction and development of all of the highways and methods of transportation in the state.
The state’s three universities began growing into top-tier institutions, and Arizona finally joined the Medicaid program, known as the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, or AHCCCS. The program since then has provided health care to more than a million low-income families and individuals throughout the state, the Arizona Capitol Times reported .
“People came to see me to invite me to a funeral a couple of years ago,” he said. “The reason they wanted me to at least go to the service, which I did, was because the fellow that died had survived for almost 10 years and received the best of care because of AHCCCS,” Gutierrez said. “He had gotten it because we had pushed this plan and it went into effect. Those sorts of things happen, and they’re all meaningful.”
His long career has gone on to include years of hosting a political radio talk show on KJZZ covering immigration issues, lecturing to students throughout the community and working as a columnist for La Voz Arizona.
Gutierrez, who grew up in the small Arizona mining town of Miami, almost two hours outside of Phoenix, became a member of the Maricopa County Community Colleges Governing Board in 2016.
Information from: Arizona Capitol Times, http://www.arizonacapitoltimes.com