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Get to know Julie Gunnigle
October 28, 2020

“Our criminal justice system is broken,” Gunnigle says. Julie Gunnigle is running on a bold platform, and needs our support to enact statutory reforms and work with community leaders to create a more fair justice system. 

Every morning Julie Gunnigle goes for a run and grabs a cup of coffee before her family wakes up. Because of COVID, all three of her young children are doing crisis schooling from the house. The campaign takes up a lot of her time these days as she is running for Maricopa County Attorney.

“I try to get them some hugs and burn them some breakfast (I’m a terrible cook), before I leave for work,” she says.

Maricopa is one of the fastest growing counties in the nation with an average of 300 people moving there every day; and while that presents its own set of issues and impacts on existing communities, Gunnigle believes in welcoming those who want to stake out a life there. 

“We can and should be accepting of newcomers to Maricopa County while holding our elected officials to account to enact policies that keep existing residents in their homes,” says Gunnigle.

She is proud to have grown up in Maricopa County and even prouder to be raising her children just a few blocks from the high school she attended. 

Ending cash bail, addressing mass incarceration, keeping families together, holding law enforcement accountable and stopping systemic racism are some of the tenets of Gunnigle’s platform. Her day one priorities include creating an independent unit for police use of force cases, restoring the unit that handles public corruption, and rebuilding the conviction integrity unit.

“Immediately, I would issue directives to every staff prosecutor in the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office to dismiss every personal marijuana possession, and issue new guidelines on dismissals of low level, non-violent cases, and an end to charge stacking practices,” she says. 

Another of her platform convictions is ending the prosecution of low-level drug offenses, as she understands that this has not made communities safer, but rather has “perpetuated a cycle of unjust policing in communities of color.”

On days when she’s not in court, you can find Julie Gunnigle talking to voters, supporters, or the press on the criminal justice issues that feel most pressing to her. Gunnigle is committed to having her community be part of crafting new policies, by releasing disaggregated data from the Attorney’s office to the public and appointing a stakehold working group so that the community can help craft explicitly anti-racist policies.

Earlier this year, after the murder of Dion Johnson by Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper George Cervantes, she stood beside Dion Johnson's family in support. On September 21, current Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel declined to file charges against Cervantes on the grounds that he feared for his life and acted in self defense. 

“I have called the current County Attorney’s decision not to charge Trooper Cervantes, an act of cowardice,” says Gunningle. Adel was unwilling to consider Cervantes' history of past misconduct and instead “decided to google his background.” 

According to Gunnigle, the process with respect to officer use of force cases is even more opaque now than at any other time in history; there is a secret, behind-closed-doors group of advisors (subject to NDAs) that evaluate these cases, and are appointed by the County Attorney who is then able to wash their hands, so to speak. 

Family members like Ms. Johnson are shut out from the process and denied services available to other victims, body camera footage is often withheld or delayed, and these cases take longer than every other case to clear.

“We deserve a transparent process,” says Gunnigle, “Dion Johnson’s family deserves justice.” 

Gunnigle believes that the County Attorney should push for police reform. “This includes advocating for the end to chokeholds, no-knock warrants, and qualified immunity and reinvestment into the communities most harmed by over-incarceration and over-policing,” she says.

For decades, the Maricopa County Attorney office worked alongside Joe Arpaio and terrorized the Latinx community. Organizations like Puente Human Rights Movement, one of Mijente’s hub organizations, have been fighting against these arrests and prosecutions for over a decade. In 2016, it was community members who as part of the BaztaArpaio campaign, took out Sheriff Joe Arpaio. But for the first time, there is a chance to have a progressive County Attorney. As a candidate for County Attorney, Gunningle has been running on a platform to end the racial disparities in their criminal justice system and restore the trust of the community in this office. 

“Our criminal justice system is broken,” Gunnigle says. Julie Gunnigle is running on a bold platform, and needs our support to enact statutory reforms and work with community leaders to create a more fair justice system. 

Julie Gunnigle is one of the candidates endorsed by Mijente in Arizona.

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Paid for by Mijente PAC, 734 W Polk St., Phoenix, AZ 85007, not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.