Sara Mae Williams is the Green Party candidate for State Representative in District 4. A member of the Tohono O'odham Nation, Williams said she hopes to speak for a part of the district that hasn't been represented for many years.
Williams said she is running, in part, to represent the interests of the eastern part of District 4, which covers southern Yuma County, most of Pima County and parts of Maricopa and Pinal counties.
Williams is a board member in the Baboquivari Unified School District in Sells and Topawa and has a background in tribal politics. She said she is new to the Green Party but believes that its values reflect her community, who inspired her to run.
"I was a huge Bernie Sanders fan but when I saw the split in the Democratic Party, I thought I can either go independent or I can join the Green Party, which I believe aligns with indigenous values," Williams said. "I was inspired to run by students in one of our schools."
"We've never been represented in District 4 for many years," she said. "Most of the leadership has come from Yuma... I felt I need to show the students and my community that we need to be represented."
Williams said she is an advocate for public education and Indian education. She points to her district as an example for ways to recruit and retain highly qualified teachers who will prepare their students for college and career readiness.
"When I started as a school board member (about eight years ago), we only had about five students going to college and now, with having hit the reset button on investing in education, out of about 55 students, we have 83 percent going to college and 99 percent of those students staying in college," Williams said. "We're seeing the results if you invest in education."
"When I look at Red For Ed (proposals, including higher teacher pay), I think we've done that and it works," she said.
The issue of immigration is personal for Williams. Her community lives just a few miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. She spoke against what she calls "fear mongering" from people who live far away from the border and do not understand the complex reality.
"The Tohono O'Odham Nation shares 72 miles of international border," Williams said. "I've heard from a candidate in another race who is pro border wall. That's just fear mongering."
"The truth is that we've had more problems with Border Patrol than with people crossing," she said. "We've had more injustice from the Border Patrol. People say we're protecting the borders. Yes, but that doesn't mean that you get to treat my people with indignity. So am I for abolishing ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement)? Yes I am."
Although the primary election is three weeks away, all three candidates for state representative in District 4 will move onto the general election. Williams will face incumbents Charlene Fernandez and Gerae Peten.