Arizona political leaders choose guests for State of the Union

February 4, 2020
In The News

PHOENIX – Teachers, a veteran, a widow and a mother who lost a first responder son to a drunk driver will be among the guests of Arizona’s congressional delegation Tuesday night when President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union.

Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema invited retired U.S. Air Force Major Gen. Ted Maxwell.

“Major General Maxwell’s legacy of service is inspiring; he served our country and led Arizona service members for over 30 years and now works to expand opportunities in Tucson and across our state,” Sinema said in a statement.

Sinema serves on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

Maxwell is a former commander of the Arizona Air National Guard.

“It is an honor to be Senator Sinema’s guest at the State of the Union address,” Maxwell said in the statement.

Republican Sen. Martha McSally invited Hope Harrison, whose husband, pilot Dustin Harrison, was killed in a terror attack in Kenya in January. He was working as contractor for the Department of Defense.

Hope Harrison of Tucson said she was honored to attend. “This will not bring my husband back,” she said in a statement, “but I pray this will help bring comfort to our daughter when she is old enough to understand the honor and respect her father was given.”

Republican Rep. Andy Biggs announced Mary Ann Mendoza would be in the audience at his request.

Mendoza’s son, Mesa Police Sgt. Brandon Mendoza, was killed in a wrong-way, head-on collision in 2014 by a drunk driver. That man also died. It was later learned the driver had lived in the country illegally for years.

Biggs said he was grateful for Mary Ann Mendoza’s advocacy for immigration reform.

“To be present during this amazing night is going to be exciting as we head into 2020. I cannot thank (Biggs) enough,” Mendoza said in a statement.

Republican Rep. Debbie Lesko asked former Gov. Jan Brewer to be her guest, calling her friend “a champion of conservative values” in the announcement.

Brewer said in a statement she was grateful for the invitation and was “excited to hear from President Trump about the great state of our nation under his leadership.”

Democratic Rep. Greg Stanton chose Lynette Stant, the Arizona Educational Foundation teacher of the year.

Stant teaches third grade at Salt River Elementary School in Scottsdale.

Fellow Democratic Ruben Gallego also invited a teacher, Vanessa Mendez of Papago Elementary School in Phoenix.

Gallego said in a tweet the second-grade instructor, a recipient of the Deferred Action for Children Arrivals, was passionate, committed and inspirational.

Democratic Rep. Tom O’Halleran reached out to Tara McCollum Plese, chief external affairs officer for the Phoenix-based nonprofit Arizona Alliance for Community Health Centers.

“Tara’s work to advocate for Arizona CHCs at the state and federal level has safeguarded the primary care of countless families in the First District,” O’Halleran said in a press release.