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Mesa Mayor Asking Valley Mayors To Support Nondiscrimination Law

Mesa Mayor John Giles
City of Mesa
Mesa Mayor John Giles

The Republican mayor for Arizona’s third-largest city wants state lawmakers to pass a nondiscrimination law.

Mesa Mayor John Giles said he’s trying to get Valley mayors to sign onto a letter in support ahead of the 2018 legislative session.

“I would hope it would be as expansive as possible. A lot of us feel like this is an issue best addressed at the state level,” Giles said, “rather than opening it up for individual inconsistent laws among the different communities in the state.”

State law already prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of sex, race and religion, but Giles said other groups like the LGBTQ community or veterans do not have the same protections.

“For a lot of the major employers in the United States, this is kind of a litmus test for whether they’re bringing their jobs to your community,” he said, “This is a question routinely asked.”

Phoenix and Tempe have local nondiscrimination ordinances, but many cities still do not, including Mesa. Democrats have introduced legislation for a statewide nondiscrimination law, even as recently as the last session, with no success.

Giles said the letter is a work in progress, so he doesn’t want to reveal the exact language or which mayors support it yet.

State Sen. David Farnsworth, a Republican from Mesa, has not seen the letter but said he would not back such a bill.

“I don’t see it as a problem as big as honestly I think reverse discrimination is a problem,” Farnsworth said.

Farnsworth said he’s been passed over for a job at a major employer in Arizona because he’s a white male. His constituents aren't asking for this kind of law, either, he said.

“Our culture, we have become so politically correct that we protect minority groups over the good of the general public,” Farnsworth said. “I think, overall, that’s more damaging.”

He added that he doesn’t believe companies are avoiding Arizona because it doesn’t have a comprehensive statewide nondiscrimination law protecting the LGBTQ community.

The mayors of Glendale and Chandler said they have not seen the letter yet.

A spokesperson for Gov. Doug Ducey said he won’t comment on any proposed legislation before seeing the language, but that Ducey is against discrimination of any form.

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Will Stone grew up with the sounds of public radio. As a senior field correspondent, he strives to tell the same kind of powerful stories that got him into the business — whether that means trudging through some distant corner of the Sonoran Desert or uncovering an unknown injustice right down the street. Since joining the KJZZ newsroom in 2015, he has covered political scandals, fights over the future of energy, and efforts to care for some of Arizona’s most vulnerable communities. His pieces have also aired on national programs like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here & Now and Marketplace. Before coming to KJZZ, he reported for public radio stations in Nevada and Connecticut. Stone received his degree in English literature from Haverford College, where he also wrote about the arts and culture scene in Philadelphia. After graduating, he interned at NPR West in Culver City, California, where he learned from some of the network’s veteran reporters and editors. When he doesn’t have a mic in hand, Stone enjoys climbing mountains, running through his central Phoenix neighborhood and shamelessly promoting his cat, Barry.