Watching Gov. Doug Ducey deal with managing the impact of the coronavirus offers a great insight on the difficulty of governing Arizona.
Put simply, what works in Tucson, Phoenix and the “State of Maricopa County,” may not apply or be effective elsewhere.
From the outset of this crisis, the governor has been dealing with political pressure from U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who hails from the Phoenix area. She has pushed for state government to do more to stem the spread of the virus. Sinema criticized Ducey for not acting sooner to close schools, restrict public gatherings and impose “shelter-in-place” orders.
The governor has worked at presenting an image of being responsive to the crisis, without overreacting. He’s held frequent press conferences explaining the steps his administration is taking to “flatten the curve,” and slow the spread of the virus. He put limits on his order to close restaurants, gyms and movie theaters, applying the restriction only to counties where the virus has been identified. He’s called out the National Guard, but limited the size of the force and where these soldiers will be working.
This week, Ducey caught flak from elected officials representing the state’s largest cities. Tucson Mayor Regina Romero criticized the governor’s order on “essential services” for being too broad. She was joined in her criticism by mayors from Flagstaff, Tolleson, Somerton and Winslow, all of whom want a more restrictive approach from the governor.
Officials representing rural communities, and rural counties, probably see things differently. Cochise County, for example, with a population density of about 20 people per square mile, hasn’t seen the same impact from the coronavirus compared to Maricopa County, which has about 520 people per square mile.
Keeping golf courses and public parks open in Sierra Vista isn’t likely to result in more cases of the virus occurring here, but the same policy in Tucson could cause an increase in that community.
Arizona is characterized by two large metropolitan areas that represent 82 percent of the state’s population.
Ducey is responsible to govern both. His policies may not be enough for Phoenix and Tucson, but they are effective for vast areas of the state that are already struggling with the impact of the virus on local economies and vital services.
We support the governor’s flexible, conservative approach in battling the coronavirus.