Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fifty Shades of Amazing

Adriana Zavala Badal first entered the United States from Mexico at the age of one. As the years passed she never imagined she would be in the race of her life in her 50's but that is exactly what she has signed up for. Adriana grew up in Bisbee, a small mining town in southeast Arizona - population less than 6,000. Today she is running for mayor of the town and if she wins, she will be the first Latina mayor ever elected in Cochise County.

I sat down with Adriana, well I emailed her. She's a bit busy these days campaigning but was kind enough to let me interview her over email. It is important that my readers know I may be a bit biased considering I'm interviewing my mother, the woman I admire most in this world.

Y.C.: What excites you about running for Mayor of Bisbee AZ?

Adriana: The challenge of leading a diverse group of people. The residents of Bisbee include people who were born here, residents who came 40 years ago after the mines closed, and many part-time residents. Many times they are on opposite sides of the issues. As the lead person on the city council, I'm looking forward to applying a no-nonsense leadership style of consensus building to address our main concerns.

Y.C.: If you are to get elected, what do you hope to accomplish for your community? 

Adriana: I must find ways to fix crumbling retaining walls, potholes and crumbling streets, and deteriorating drainage and flood control canals. In addition, Bisbee's share of federal and state revenues is down, and the City's contribution to police and fire personnel pensions continues to grow. It will be necessary to cut spending and consolidate departments where possible, increase revenue, and spur growth.

Y.C.: What do you like about the town and the people of Bisbee AZ?

Adriana: About Bisbee I like its geography, its weather, its size, and its history. About the people, I like their sense of adventure, their work ethic and desire to make Bisbee a great place to live, their international experiences, and how they come together when the going gets tough. 

Y.C.: What experience do you have that would qualify you to become Mayor?

Adriana: 20 years working in government affairs and public policy in Arizona and New Mexico. 

Y.C.: How do you deal with criticism and naysayers in life and throughout your campaign?

Adriana:  I try to understand their reasons for saying no or for criticizing me or an issue. When I do that I sometimes change my mind or realize that I need to explain something better. If neither of us has a change of heart or mind-set, then at least we've had a discussion and hopefully we've established a rapport so that we can continue to talk. 

Y.C.: What advice would you give future political hopefuls when it comes to

Adriana: Talk less, listen more.

Y.C.: How does being bilingual benefit you as a mayoral candidate? 

Adriana: There are many Spanish speakers in Bisbee. It is one more way I can identify with them. Also, I am able to explain issues and listen to their concerns in their native language. Knowing Spanish is not just about speaking the language, it is also about understanding the culture; this type of understanding can be useful when a mayor seeks constituent input and support. 

Y.C.: What do you want your constituents to know about you?

Adriana: I am grateful for their confidence in me as a public servant. Regardless of who they vote for, if I am elected, I will represent everyone with respect and dignity. I will have regular office hours at City Hall. I will use the skills I've acquired over the last 20 years to improve all aspects of city government. I will continue to learn about city issues and constituent needs. I plan on us having fun.

Y.C.: Do you think you are a positive role model for other Latinas?

Adriana:  I don’t think of myself as a role model. I don't do anything with that intent. I do things because they need to be done, and when I commit to doing them, I seek perfection. I often miss the mark.

Y.C.: Who's been your role model?

Adriana: My sister who never gives up.

Y.C.: What is your stance on immigration?

Adriana:  I like it. 

Y.C.: Do you think of yourself as American or Mexican?  

Adriana: Mexican American. For me, it is impossible to separate the two. I and my parents were born in Mexico. As a child and youth, I spent many summers and holidays in Mexico. As an adult, I have travelled there extensively. My parents were proud of being Mexican and never shied away from who they were. That gave me self-esteem and confidence.

Y.C.: What is it like to live in a border community during an election year where immigration is a hot topic? 

Adriana: Bisbee does not have border immigration problems. Individuals and families from Mexico have been coming to Bisbee since the late 1800s to work, to shop, to live - and vice versa. The border region in this part of the country is populated by people who understand and respect each other. We are fortunate to live here.

Y.C.: What is the best piece of advice you've ever received? 

Adriana: Don't be afraid to ask a question. If you ask it, you might feel dumb for a few minutes. If you don't ask it, you might be dumb for a very long time.

Y.C.: If you are elected will you run for re-election and do you have aspirations for any other elected position?

Adriana: Right now I am focused on winning the mayoral race. The primary is August 28 and the general election is November 6.  

If you know Bisbee, then you know just about anything can happen there including electing the right woman for the job.

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