I remember standing at the plate, willing myself to ignore the cries of “Hey, batter batter batter…” It was all just distraction, a rapid-fire jumble of words and motion designed to take my mind off the next pitch.
Only one thing matters son, my dad had taught me. If you want to win, keep your eye on the ball.
That lesson got me through a great many ball games in my youth; it rings even more truthful today. Our state, our nation, in fact most of our planet, is poised on what we all hope to be the brink of recovery. Forced inside by a virus, divided by outbreaks of anarchy, we are surrounded by so much distraction that few of us can remember what was important nine months ago. Most of us would be thrilled to just get back to work, back to school, to play sports together, go to a movie, or gather with friends around a grill. Instead of being focused on how to make our lives better, we are bombarded with distractions of isolation, anger and violence served up by politicians and echoed across social and mainstream media.
Keep your eye on the ball, son. But what was that next pitch anyway? What did we want out of life this time last year, before COVID and CHAZ even existed as words? Most eyes in southeast Arizona were on the promise of growth. Cities to the west like San Luis and Nogales had already seen the influx of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding. With funding comes improvements in security and infrastructure, which in turns draws corporate investment. Water the desert with that kind of rain and jobs sprout up, opportunities bloom.
The prior mayor of Douglas didn’t share that vision, instead taking measures which, much like AOC in New York, slammed the door on the kind of opportunity that could have seen Cochise County already enjoying many of the benefits so visible to our west. It came as no surprise that the citizens of Douglas turned out in droves to usher in Donald Huish as the new mayor. A businessman with a strong sense of economic fundamentals, Huish has signaled a desire to re-calibrate the regional focus to one which will draw much-needed Federal investment and secure for southeast Arizona the future it deserves.
It is imperative that we keep our eye on the ball. Victory is not being allowed outside; success is not simply returning to the jobs we once had. Those were all ours to begin with. No, victory is something better, success is the kind of future for ourselves and our kids that already spans most of Arizona’s southern border. As security tightens to the west, criminal efforts naturally slide down the border looking for the next “soft spot”. From horrific Sinaloa cartel violence in Agua Prieta to the dangers stemming from an influx of drugs and human trafficking, the citizens of Cochise County deserve a fair share of the Arizona Dream.
We stand at the turning of the tide, at what promises to be the new dawn for Arizona after the long night of COVID-19. It is now, more than ever, that we need to keep our eye on the ball. Many of our city leaders, our state representatives, our Governor, have already joined hearts in support of this agenda. It is time we demand action to back up those words.
The Federal government has already demonstrated a willingness to invest in the southern border zones, visiting the region only days ago to celebrate the growth that has marched across from the Pacific coast. The disparity of that march is, in and of itself, worthy of comment. Arizona has roughly 350 miles of border with Mexico. If you start measuring at Yuma, nearly a billion dollars of Federal support has been invested into the first 250 miles. The last hundred miles has received precisely zero. The commercial pattern looks very similar. Companies, including the billion-dollar Smead Capital Management, have traded the strife-torn streets of Seattle for Phoenix. The opportunity for drawing corporate relocation to our area has never been greater. We cannot allow our cry for relief to get lost in the noise of divisive politics and impending elections. Contact your representatives and urge them to remember what is really important for Arizona.