BULLHEAD CITY — Asked to name the biggest challenge facing the U.S. Senate, Kyrsten Sinema didn’t hesitate for a second.
“The intense partisanship,” she said during a brief interview with the Mohave Valley Daily News following her visit Saturday with the Mohave Health Coalition in Bullhead City.
“It impedes progress,” she said. “I think it’s unfair.”
Unfair to the American people, she said. Especially when it affects her constituents in Arizona.
“They expect a federal government that works FOR them, not a federal government that works AGAINST them.”
Sinema said it not only is her wish to try to meet that expectation, it’s her duty.
“I was elected to serve the people of Arizona,” she said more than a month into the second year of her six-year term. “That’s what I try to do.
“They just want their lives to be better.”
They want elected officials who will work to find solutions to everyday problems, from the economy and security to health care and social issues. To work toward solutions, Sinema said, requires the ability to understand her constituents as well as her colleagues in Congress, finding it more pragmatic — and successul — to work with someone than to work against them.
“It’s important to build personal relationships,” she said. “At every level.”
And it requires her to stay out of what she called the “poison” of political division.
“I change it by example,” she said. “I refuse to engage in partisan bickering.”
She said she tries to stay out of the partisan public arguments that permeate politics in Washington and elsewhere.
“You won’t see me on the Sunday (political) talk shows,” she said. “That’s not me. That’s not who I am.
“It doesn’t matter how other people behave, we will always behave appropriately.”
Sinema served in the Arizona Legislature for eight years, six in the Arizona House of Representatives and two in the Arizona Senate, before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from the newly formed 9th District in 2012. After six years in the House, Sinema ran for the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the retirement of Republican Jeff Flake in 2018 and defeated Martha McSally in a close race, becoming the first Arizona woman elected to the Senate and the first Arizona Democrat elected as senator since 1995. The previous Democratic senator was Dennis DeConcini, who served three terms beginning in 1977 — a year after Sinema was born.
Sinema’s Senate assignments include the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and the Special Committee on Aging.