Speaker’s Corner: Kate Brophy McGee

This is a place where free speech and public debate are welcomed and encouraged. The Speakers’ Corner originated in the mid-19th century at London’s Hyde Park. The concept spread worldwide both physically and now virtually. Here at the Arizona Progress & Gazette, we are presenting this platform in the form of question-and-answer style interviews with people who have had a meaningful impact on the community.

Kate Brophy McGee is a former Arizona Republican member of the Arizona legislature where she served from 2010 to 2020. She lost a narrow State Senate race to Christine Marsh in 2020.

Brophy McGee is currently a member of the Maricopa County Special Healthcare District Board of Directors in Arizona, representing District 3. She is also a candidate for the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, seeking to replace Bill Gates who opted not to run for reelection.

Given the contentious political climate, especially surrounding elections, what motivated you to run for County Supervisor?

People know that I have a long track record of getting many hard things done at every level I have served, and I was asked by many to run. In making that decision, I considered what I could do to help make Maricopa County and Arizona a great place for generations to come. I want to preserve our wonderful quality of life, with a focus on public safety. I am worried about the increasing number of chronically homeless – those with untreated serious mental illness and/or substance abuse problems. I am outraged at the record level of fentanyl flowing into Arizona. I do not want to stand on the sidelines when I have the knowledge and the will to tackle those problems head-on. My track record of success at every level I have served is something constituents know and expect.

Before being elected to the state legislature, you served on your local school board. Your political resume goes back more than 15 years. How has politics changed during that time?

If you go outside “the bubble” of hyper partisan politics and get past the pundits, the answer is the same now as it has always been– people want good government that works for them. They want their children to have a great education, they want a friendly business environment, and they want their communities to be safe and livable. I have been elected many times because my constituents know this is how I serve them.

Many describe you as a moderate. Would you describe yourself that way and do you think that was a factor in your last legislative race?

Moderate has been a maligned word by some, as they think of it as a wishy-washy go-along get along. That is not who I have ever been. I govern by timeless principles of less government, lower taxes, individual liberty and personal responsibility. Moderate means not being an extremist nor an idealogue.

During my 10 years in the legislature, I held my seat despite the district turning increasingly from purple to blue. 2020 was a wave election for Democrats, and my legislative district did not favor President Trump, who lost the district by 15,000 votes.  Many new factors impacted the 2020 elections, but it is notable that I attracted Independent as well as Republican and Democratic votes, falling short of victory by only a few hundred votes. It turned out for the best, as I have spent the last three years focused on County government and working in my beloved local communities.

Can moderates thrive in this current political climate?

I believe they can, particularly if they are a known achiever, as I am. Voters are hungry for no-drama, effective leadership that they can trust.

You have called Sunnyslope home for nearly 40 years. What changes have you seen in your county supervisor district that have surprised you the most?

The growth throughout the district has been astounding! What I love most about Sunnyslope is the people who call it home. For generations, it has been a very tight-knit community with an active, involved citizenry who participate in every level of local government. They work together to solve problems in their neighborhoods and find all occasions to gather and celebrate their Sunnyslope community.

Were you surprised by Sheriff Penzone’s decision to leave office and what do you think the impact will be?

I was not surprised, given the constrictions on his ability to do the job, due to the federal consent decree levied against his predecessor fifteen years ago and still ongoing. The decree has cost the County hundreds of millions of dollars paid to an out-of-state monitor. Penzone’s office has cleared 92% of the internal investigations mandated by the federal judge but is forced to continue to prioritize these over the safety of county residents and Sheriff’s office employees. Penzone has brought this issue to light, rightly pointing out that public safety is harmed, not helped, by the monitor.  Going forward I think the impact Sheriff Penzone made will be positive. One of my priorities as a County Supervisor is to end the consent decree and restore control of the Sheriff’s office to Maricopa County voters and taxpayers. The taxpayer dollars spent on the monitor can be put to great use towards public safety investments, i.e. relieving critical staffing shortages, in all our communities, particularly those with the higher crime rates.

What are Maricopa County’s biggest challenges currently?

Maricopa County is the fastest-growing county in the country! This hyper growth creates many challenges (as well as opportunities) – housing shortages, homelessness and public safety related to the consent decree discussed above. The County is also facing other federal government interventions, including the EPA and air quality issues. It is imperative that we have effective, experienced, common-sense leadership to navigate through all of these challenges successfully.

Now, most importantly, what is your favorite Sunnyslope restaurant?

We have so many wonderful local restaurants! For Christmas tamales and great Mexican food, El Bravo is a Sunnyslope staple. And I love North Mountain Brewery. Not only do they have great pub food and beer, but they also give back to the community. Cultivate Coffee is a great place to have a quiet conversation and grab a great cup of coffee. I can’t narrow it down any more than that.