Published: Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, January 27, 2010
UA alumnus Dustin Cox, 24, is running for state office a year-and-a-half after graduating, running on the platform of creating jobs, health care and education.
Just over a year and a half after graduating from the UA, Dustin Cox, 24, is making good on his promise to run for state office.
Cox graduated from Skyline High School in Mesa, Ariz., in 2004.
He was awarded the prestigious Flinn Scholarship for academic excellence and community service, which he could use at any Arizona public university.
Cox said the scholarship, which he valued at about $60,000, persuaded him to stay in-state.
“I was on my way to Stanford when I got the Flinn Scholarship, and you don’t give up the Flinn,” he said.
Cox worked with UA student government to bring cohesive social justice programs to college students, which he believed were missing at the UA.
He developed A-Town at UA, which is a branch of Anytown Arizona, Inc., a national nonprofit youth leadership organization devoted to promoting social awareness, diversity and involvement for high school students.
“I found the money from all over the place — private and corporate donations, and the UA,” Cox said. “(College students) have the passion, the energy and the resources at our institutions of higher education to really wield a lot of influence and make some changes in policy and practice, and make a huge impact on our community.”
Cox said A-Town programs let students work for causes that interest them.
“It’s kinda like a boot camp for folks who want to make a difference,” Cox said. “No matter where you’re from, what you’ve done, (A-Town) educates you about issues and inspires you to do things about them.”
Since earning his Bachelor of Arts in political science and sociology, Cox has served as executive director at Anytown Arizona, Inc. and Anytown America.
The Arizona Daily Star named Cox one of Tucson’s top 40 professionals under age 40 in 2009.
Education, health care and creating jobs through alternative energy are Cox’s main focuses.
“These are things that just plain make sense, they shouldn’t be wedge issues for the parties but things we should be able to accomplish,” Cox said.
Though Cox said he’s optimistic about the future of government both at the federal and local levels, he thinks bitter philosophical feuding between extremists has distracted Arizona politicians from preventing the state’s fiscal catastrophe.
“It’s such partisan rancor up there right now,” Cox said. “The Republican leadership is going around saying, ‘If we cut taxes, it’s going to make everything better.’”
Cox said he fears the legislature’s decision to cut hundreds of millions in education funding not only scared away prospective corporations in need of an educated work force, but may have also forced current companies to relocate.
“We should be investing in the largest economic engines in the state instead of cutting them,” he said.
“I have a lot of hope in what I see in advancements in transparency and ethics,” Cox said. “The Obama administration has opened up truckloads of information.”
He is proud of the UA’s promotion of gender equality in fundamental ways, like instituting gender-neutral bathrooms.
He supports UA President Robert Shelton’s decisions during the UA transformation, but also encourages administrators to consider reducing their salaries as well.
He said the UA and the state of Arizona have some catching up to do in terms of utilizing technology making government operations more transparent.
“Transparency is laying everything out on the table — who you’re meeting with, why you’re meeting with them and the results of those meetings,” Cox said.