Congresswoman (and Planner) Gabrielle Giffords

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle GiffordsWe know that good governance and good planning go hand in hand together. Within our democratic form of government in the U.S., we have carved out unique ways in which planning occurs. The tragedy in Tucson this past weekend was an attack on democracy — our chosen form of governance — in addition to being a horrible attack on individuals. Our thoughts and prayers are with those killed or injured as well as their families and loved ones.

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is well known among the community of planners and engaged citizens in Arizona. She served as a keynote speaker at an annual conference of APA Arizona in the early 2000s while a state legislator, and later received the chapter's Legislator of the Year Award.

Kellie Sertich, AICP, a current member of APA's Board of Directors and the APA Arizona Chapter President when Giffords addressed the chapter, has met with her on many occasions and offers the following thoughts:

"I had the pleasure of working with Gabby during my term as President of the Arizona Chapter of the APA. As a state legislator she was a partner with APA Arizona in many planning endeavors — a partnership she continues as a Congresswoman. Gabby always makes time to meet with the Arizona contingent when they attend the APA Planners' Day on Capitol Hill in D.C. She is considered a champion and hero by planners in communities in her district that she has helped with local and federal issues. Gabby perseveres in her endeavors — this one a little tougher — as we all keep her in our thoughts."

Jon Froke, AICP, APA Arizona's current president, has spoken for the chapter:

"On behalf of the Arizona Planning Association we express our sadness and grief at the senseless tragedy that occurred in Tucson Saturday morning that involved U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and others."

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is a unique public servant, respected by those of various political viewpoints. Her commitment to service and her belief in an open, inclusive environment was perhaps influenced by the fact that she is also a planner. While earning a master's degree from Cornell's City and Regional Planning Department, Giffords learned to raise the quality of public debate on critical issues.

She is described as passionate about important policy issues such as health care and immigration. As the 112th Congress opened last week, she was proud to read the First Amendment as the U.S. Constitution was read in the House chamber. She reaches across the aisle and continually reaches out to her constituents, as she was doing last Saturday. She seeks their ideas and input, and tries to assist with citizens' personal problems where possible. She has dedicated much of her life to public service, earning praise from our members, as Sertich and Froke have noted. To me, she sounds like an exemplary planner.

We extend our prayers to her and others who were killed or injured in the tragedy. We hope for the best possible recovery for Congresswoman Giffords and others who are still recovering. We also trust that our quality of public debate will be raised, not lowered. We stand in awe of those who serve their fellow citizens in so many ways in the U.S. and abroad.

—W. Paul Farmer, FAICP
Chief Executive Officer