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Jo Holt is a Democrat in a Republican district, but said she is running her state Senate bid for Legislative District 11 very close to a nonpartisan campaign.

“We’re building a coalition of people who want to solve problems – that they don’t think of themselves first as representing some political party – and I think I’ll do the same thing in the Legislature to the extent that I can,” she said.

Holt, who tried for the same seat in 2012, described herself as a pro-business and pro-public education candidate. Her top priorities are infrastructure and cross-border trade.

She defines infrastructure broadly, as any number of things that support business. That can mean physical features like roads, utilities and renewable energy, and social institutions like public education.

Education is one of the district’s challenges, she said. Although the area has some excellent public schools, she said, they are operating under “extreme stress.”

“I do not think that is an overstatement. It is extreme stress.”

On the plus side, she said, LD11 has three well-run municipalities – Maricopa, Marana and Oro Valley – and the region is attracting biotechnology and is poised to be a major player in transportation. 

If elected, Holt said that as a freshman and a member of the minority party, her first action would be to start talking to colleagues in both chambers, across the aisle.

Holt, a career scientist who conducted research in molecular biophysics, came to Oro Valley by way of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, from which she took early retirement in 2006 to care for her ailing husband. The Tucson area was familiar, though. Her work previously included a decade at the University of Arizona.

Holt said she is running to represent the people of her district, where she has lived for the last seven years.

“I know that sounds obvious, but they are not currently being represented by the three legislators that we have in this district.”

She said that when legislators are in the Capitol they get bombarded by a lot of interests, and it’s natural to want to respond. But it’s important to maintain close ties to the home base, she said—constituents need to see their legislators, and the lawmakers need to hear their constituents. Districts are small enough that people should know who their legislators are, but she said many people don’t.

Holt’s early endorsements include Arizona List, Planned Parenthood, Las Adelitas Arizona, Equality Arizona, Stonewall Democrats of Arizona, and the Arizona Education Association Fund for Public Education. 


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