There are two factual inaccuracies in Mr. Franzi’s column that I would like to address:

First, I do not and have never had anything to do with the Institute for Civil Discourse. To ask me to act on behalf of an organization with which I am not affiliated is a strange request.

Second, the Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding is not a political watchdog—Mr. Franzi fundamentally misunderstands the Fund’s mission.

My family, like most Southern Arizonans, was shocked by the tragic events on January 8. As a way to bring good out of that terrible day, we started the Fund to help eliminate school bullying, and to increase public awareness of mental illness symptoms, prevention and treatment and to fight the stigma, which prevents individuals from seeking treatment.

We never intended for the Fund to become a political watchdog group that would comment on every overheated remark in national or local politics. In fact, we made an active decision not to become such a group. We acknowledged on our website that “the meaning of civility can vary from person to person.” Our advisory board made the following pledge: I commit to bring civility into my daily life in all interactions by treating everyone with respect, consideration and kindness regardless of differing beliefs opinions or actions.

You’ll notice that the pledge is about the standard we would hold ourselves to—not something we’d impose on others.

So while I am committed to running a campaign that treats my supporters and my opponents with respect, I have no intention of policing this race or any other national or local politics.

I will not demonize my opponent, nor will I attack him or his family personally. Instead, I will be clear about where I stand on the policy issues.  The people of our community are faced with enormous challenges, and they deserve a representative in Congress who will tackle the issues about which we all care. It’s only fair to keep this election focused on those issues and highlight the choice voters face on June 12.

This campaign cannot be about my personal thoughts on civility. Rather, it must be about the issues that Southern Arizonans are concerned about—the policies that will help our middle class families, seniors and veterans.

I have listened to the people of this district, and I am committed to working hard on the issues that matter to them. That is why I am running for Congress, and why I am so determined to keep this race focused on those issues. I will work to protect Social Security and Medicare, balance the budget the right way—not on the backs of seniors and middle class families, and support local industries and small businesses. And I will support our veterans and military families, and work as I always have to ensure that they get the benefits they’ve earned.

In closing, I wanted to highlight one story that explains why I feel so strongly that we should be focused on the issues in this race:

I strongly support the minimum wage. At a time when people are unemployed and underemployed—sometimes working multiple jobs to get by—the minimum wage is that much more important to keep our families solvent. For pointing out that my opponent has said that “we need to take steps to lower and eventually eliminate the minimum wage,” my opponent objected, calling this a lie. But repeating Mr. Kelly’s words verbatim is not lying.

My point in relaying this story is this: We should be focused on this and the many other policy differences between us. We should not be circling around those differences by, on one hand, resorting to personal attacks, or on the other, complaining about the tone of the race.

The people of Southern Arizona deserve a campaign focused on the issues, and how the positions taken by my opponents or me will affect them and their well-being.

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