There was standing room only inside Biscuits in Ahwatukee Foothills Monday night as the newly formed Legislative District 18 Democrats met to hear from local representatives, including congressional candidate Andrei Cherny.

Cherny spoke for about 20 minutes telling those who had gathered about his parents struggle to make ends meet as he was growing up and what it taught him about America.

“I grew up the son of two immigrants,” Cherny said. “I watched my parents work incredibly hard. They were working three or four jobs between the two of them. When they couldn’t find work, we like a lot of other families, suffered.

“But we weren’t alone… Because people before me sacrificed their own families and their own livelihoods and fought hard, we had public schools and public libraries and Pell grants and I was able to go from a kid whose parents didn’t speak much English to working in the White House for the President of the United States.”

Cherny said his goal during this election was getting results for families in need.

“The reason I got into this was because a lot of people I believe in, like Terry Goddard and others said we cannot afford to nominate someone during the primary that cannot win the general election and is not going to be able to fight the kind of fight we need,” Cherny said. “We cannot let folks down. I also think I bring something different to the table... I think I’m the one person who can win this race.”

Cherny’s campaign co-chair and Ahwatukee Foothills resident Rae Waters was in attendance at the meeting. She said she got involved with Cherny’s campaign because she really identified with him.

“I think we all have stories like that of our families,” Waters said. “I’m the oldest of six from the south side of Chicago originally so the idea of him understanding where we’re coming from and concerns for our kids starting out... I think that’s what he’s about is making sure that support system is here for our kids, for our seniors, for everybody.”

Another candidate for the congressional seat, David Schapira was also at the meeting. Schapira came to give the group an update on what’s happening in legislature, including an update on his anti-bullying bill that would make training available to teachers and administrators on how to deal with bullying. That bill was passed out of the senate 40 minutes too late and died before reaching the house.

Schapira left before Cherny got up to address the group, out of respect for Cherny.

“When I got to speak a month ago as a candidate I didn’t have to look in the face of either of my opponents as I was talking,” Schapira said. “So I’m going to leave early not because I don’t love my new district but I don’t want Andrei to have to look in my face as he speaks. I’ll give the same courtesy to him.”

While Schapira stepped out his supporters stuck around to hear the rest of the meeting. Chase Williams, a member of LD18 and research director for Schapira’s campaign said he’s supporting Schapira because of his dedication to education.

“David has represented the district already with his representation on the school board as well as in LD 17,” Williams said. “He’s the only candidate that lived in the district prior to announcing for congress. This is his community. He was born in the district. He has deep routes here. Most importantly his number one issue is education. Education is the key to opportunity for our country.

“Other candidates talk a lot about results and making sure we get results but David is the only candidate in this race that has served in a leadership position in the state senate and has actually gotten results in education. With our endorsement from Penny Kotterman you can see he really has education leaders behind him.”

Kyrsten Sinema is the third Democrat running for CD9. She is expected to present at an LD 18 meeting in the near future.

Republican candidates for the office include Travis Grantham, Don Stapley, Martin Sepulveda and Wendy Rogers.

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