Meet the Candidate: Ryan Starzyk (Arizona)

8 mins read

Candidate Name: Ryan Starzyk

Photo provided by the campaign.

Candidate’s Preferred Pronouns

What office are you running for?
Arizona State Senate, Legislative District 24

With which party are you running for office?
Democratic Party

Election Date
August 4, 2020 (primary)

Why are you running for office?
In 2016, I started to feel as though something was missing. So I went back to school (glutton for punishment) for my Doctorate in Business. To say this was a challenge would be an understatement. But it was a selfish goal, motivated by a desire to learn more ways I can help our our community. One I am proud to have finished. In 2017, I joined the Phoenix Pride Board of Directors and took over as the Chair, Education & Outreach Committee. Three years of managing our community grant and scholarship program opened my eyes to so much in life. In December 2019, it was an honor to accept Vice President of Phoenix Pride and Chair, Board Development Committee. Seeing the positive impact, hearing the stories, and seeing the change made me want to do more. All of 2018 was a year of deep self-reflection, doubting myself, asking my partner and friends the big question of “What’s next for Ryan?” This is where I started to realize running for office and serving the whole community is that next step. Because I want to do more, make a more significant impact, and help as many people as possible.

What is the biggest issue facing your community and how do you propose helping?
In 2019, Arizonans received over $18 billion in tax exemptions and preferential tax treatments. As your next State Senator, I will push to use that money for Education, Mental Health and Veterans. ​

Education Creates Opportunity. We need to stop teaching our kids a test and start delivering education that prepares young people for tomorrow’s jobs and helps build businesses that boost Arizona’s economy. I will advocate for smaller class sizes, teacher assistants in every classroom and increased funding for our schools to make sure we set ourselves up to be a national education leader. I am ready to advocate for comprehensive and ambitious changes with a six-point policy plan. ​

Mental Health Matters. Having someone to talk to can make a profound difference, it did for me. I will firmly advocate to make sure every Arizonan has the ability to see a mental health professional. Almost 200,000 people in Arizona suffer from serious psychological distress. We must do better to support our fellow citizens and provide mental health services to everyone. I am ready to address these issues with a bold and comprehensive five-point policy plan to support Arizonans. ​

Veterans Deserve Better. Veterans need us, over 200 Veterans take their own lives every single year in Arizona. 22 every single day nationwide. I will advocate for our Veterans to have the support and services they need in order to be successful by increasing outreach programs and doubling the number of benefit counselors. Our Veterans served this country, we must take better care of them. I am ready to address these issues with a bold and comprehensive four-point policy plan to help support Arizona Veterans.

How do we fix the partisan divide in our country and start working together again?
We must recognize that everyone has a place in this world, our humanity binds us together, selfish acts set us apart. Working towards a unified goal of producing a better world, one safe from violence, without war and thriving economy will take compromise. Ideological divides bring forth hateful rhetoric. We start to fix the partisan divide by first acknowledging the issues we face and producing next generation leaders to combat the establishment insiders who fail us over and over.

Who is your hero?
Captain America

What are your hobbies?
Reading, Writing, Research

What is the most recent book you read?
A Warning: Anonymous

Do you have any kids/pets/talking houseplants?
One dog, Munchkin and one cat, Archie

How can our readers get involved in your campaign?
Spread the word on social media, contribute $5 to our clean election campaign, make calls on behalf of the campaign.

What question do you wish we’d asked, and what is your answer?
What is your biggest struggle in life?
Post-military life was nothing short of an adventure, one that I will never forget. I struggled with severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), nightmares, waking up in cold sweats, and felt angry all of the time. I struggled with substance abuse during this period, and recognize the importance of having someone there to help you through such a tumultuous experience. I was very lucky, so may are not. This is what continues to drive my passion and why I will never give up fighting for you.

“It took me several years and a lot of therapy to get back on my feet.” The Veterans Affairs hospital was vital in making this happen. I am grateful for them and all the dedicated public servants who assisted me through this troubling time.

My partner of over 12 years, Ivan, was also there every step of the way, supporting, loving, and helping me through these challenges. Eventually, I managed to get to a better place, finishing my Bachelor’s degree in 2012. To me, this was a monumental achievement, and I wanted to keep going. So I did. Ivan and I moved to Arizona in 2012, right after we both finished our Bachelor’s degrees. We built a family with two dogs (Zeus and Munchkin). We had a desire for a better life, more economic opportunity and to achieve our Master’s degrees. We did. Both of us graduated from Arizona State University (ASU) with a Masters (Ryan: Masters in Legal Studies & Ivan: Masters in Visual Communication Design). Arizona is our home, and we love it so much. Nothing about this was smooth, and yes, we had our challenges from time to time (who doesn’t)?

Candidate Social Media:
Website| Facebook | Twitter

Post created from answers submitted by candidate to our Meet the Candidate survey.

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DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks, but are sustained solely on donations from grassroots supporters. Because our revenue isn’t click-driven, we don’t take in any direct revenue from the creative contributions of grassroots activists who post on the site. This sets us apart from other media sites. And we’re proud of that.

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