Ron Barber, District Director to Gabrielle Giffords, highlighted the necessity of food-donation programs, because the number of those in need is the highest it has ever been.

Randy Metcalf/The Explorer

Ron Barber made it official Thursday, announcing he will vie for the seat to finish Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' term in District 8.

Barber is the second Democrat to officially announce his candidacy, while five Republicans are running in the special election.

In his announcement, Barber pledged to continue Giffords' legacy of working across the aisle to solve problems for the people in Southern Arizona such as protecting veterans and seniors, investing in clean energy to create jobs and securing the border.

"Our community needs someone who will put politics aside and solve problems for the people of Southern Arizona," said Barber. "My commitment is to be honest with the people of this district and help restore civility to our public life. My first priority won't be the next election - but the next generation. That means balancing the budget the right way by protecting Social Security and Medicare, creating jobs and securing our border."

Barber served as Giffords' district director from 2007 until she retired on Jan. 22.

On Jan. 8, 2011 Barber was one of 13 injured in the shooting spree at a Safeway parking lot in Tucson.

Giffords retired from office in order to continue rehabilitation after she suffered a gunshot wound to the head in the shooting.

After the shooting, Barber created the Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding to help the community heal by supporting survivors of the tragedy, aiding first responders, reducing bullying in schools ad increasing awareness of mental health symptoms.

Before working for Giffords, Barber ran the Arizona Division of Developmental Disabilities, where he built one of the top five programs in the nation that helped people with disabilities to get jobs and live successfully in their community.

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