Kris Mayes, professor of practice at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, is running a Democratic campaign for Arizona attorney general for the 2022 election. Mayes' goal is to refocus the attorney general's office on climate change, shifting its priorities to filing more meaningful litigation to protect the environment.
"I believe that climate change is an existential crisis and we have to preserve Arizona's resources," Mayes said, who has taught courses on energy law.
Mayes' focus on climate change comes from her previously served terms as a member of the Arizona Corporation Commission where climate initiatives were a center stage of her tenure. Mayes doesn't just want to focus on climate change, she also claims that she plans on "restoring trust in Arizona government."
Mayes' colleague at ASU, Tempe City Councilmember and Democratic candidate for the Corporation Commission, Lauren Kuby, said Mayes was "the mother of the renewable energy standard across the United States."
The attorney general in Arizona has fluctuated between the two dominant political parties in the U.S. in recent years, switching between Republican and Democrat every two attorneys general. Mayes, a former Republican, wants to take the leadership role away from her former party, which she described as increasingly political.
The Arizona Legislature, according to Mayes, has become increasingly partisan over the past year. The recent audit of the 2020 election was spearheaded by state Republican congressional members. The results of the audit proved President Joe Biden did win Arizona and by a broader margin than previously reported. Mayes called the entire event a "fraudit."
"The Republican party was very different back then," Mayes said Friday at an ASU Young Democrats general meeting, referring to her time in the party prior to 2019. "Democracy is under direct attack by Republican members of the Arizona Legislature, our governor and our attorney general."
Sahara Sajjadi, a junior studying political science who attended the Young Democrats meeting, said she "enjoyed (Mayes) coming to speak with us. Obviously attorney general's a really important role. That was the one we were most upset about losing in the 2020 election."
Mayes also levied an attack against current Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who has been very outspoken against Biden's COVID-19 plan and environmental protections.
Brnovich recently filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration over the federal vaccine mandate that requires businesses with over 100 employees to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine or require weekly testing. Mayes described the lawsuit as "frivolous."
Some students at the Young Democrats meeting proved to be more divided on Mayes' campaign, describing worries over sameness between Democratic candidates.
Edward Rus, a senior studying political science, said "I feel like we're kind of getting into a point where we are repeating ourselves with the kind of candidates that we have.
"It's a good thing to have a diversity of different candidates across the Democratic Party."
The attorney general's responsibility is to represent the people of Arizona in any judicial capacity, whether it be the defense of a state law at the federal level or the attack of a federal law at the state level.
Mayes wants her representation focused on the protection of abortion.
"There is going to be a direct assault on Roe v. Wade here in Arizona based on the Texas law," Mayes said. "I will fight any effort by anyone in the legislature or the governor's office to strip AZ women of their ability to access reproductive healthcare."
With the passing of Texas' recent abortion bill, states across the nation are discussing the potential of proposing copycat legislation.
Mayes worries that another Brnovich-type in office could lead to the passing of a similar bill in Arizona. Arizona state Sen. Nancy Barto told the Phoenix New Times she, and several other legislators, were considering sponsoring a bill during the 2022 legislative session.
Martin Pasqualetti, Mayes' colleague in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, said "She'll bring a breath of fresh air. She's not controlled by any lobbyists or any outside organization," he said. "I wholeheartedly support her candidacy."
Reporter Alexis Waiss contributed to this article.
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