Valley fever advocate ponders political aspirations - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

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Valley fever advocate ponders political aspirations

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Posted: Friday, April 22, 2011 7:15 pm

Pat White, a West Valley leader in the fight against valley fever, says she is considering a move downtown.

To the state Legislature, that is.

“I’m certainly mulling it over,” she said. “It’s not something I’ve ever thought about before. Politics have never been very big for me.”

White said she is considering a run for office now in large part due to her frustration in dealing with the Legislature from the outside.

“Maybe by getting an office I can at least get them to address valley fever and get them to start listening to me,” she said. “I don’t know what else to do. After a while you feel like you’re banging your head against a brick wall. If I’m in there with them, then they have to listen.”

White, who lives in LD-4, said she has been warned that work at the Legislature moves slowly, even when the cause is a good one.

“Can I turn things around all by myself? No, of course not,” she said. “But at least I can get the Legislature to recognize how serious valley fever is and, frankly, shame the state of Arizona into doing something.”

White said she has several ideas in mind for bills she would like to create should she win an election. One such idea, she said, would be to require practicing doctors in Arizona to take at least one class on valley fever per year.

“So many doctors in Arizona just don’t know what they’re dealing with,” she said. “A lot of people are dismissive of it, which is why education is so important.”

White said she plans to forgo any salary she would earn as a member of the Legislature.

“I’m not doing this to make any money at all,” she said. “Every penny I make would go toward a cure for valley fever.”

As of now, White said she is still on the fence. Her family, she said, is against the idea of a run for office, but she also worries if she does not advocate for valley fever victims, no one will.

“I’ve been doing nothing but study this disease for the past six years,” she said. “Right now, our legislators won’t answer my calls, won’t reply to my emails. Maybe if I’m right there, in their faces, they’ll start to look at things a little differently.”

Jeff Dempsey may be reached at 623-876-2531 or

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