American Dream on the American Border (Bonus)

Manny Ruiz is the American dream. His parents came to American for a better life for their 11 children. A first generation American, Manny is now a Santa Fe County Arizona county commissioner. He sees a lot of things right at the border, but he also sees where and how things can and should improve. Listen to someone living their entire life at the border talk about life as a new American.


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Manny Ruiz: I think we have it as secure as it can be. You know, that’s not saying that we can’t do better, but we also have to find a way to really. Six. An immigration system that’s broken. You have to learn how to dream. And you have to dream. Dream big. And you go out and you work hard and you accomplish what you want to, but at the same time, you you give back to the community.

I could pave all the roads with gold and there’d be somebody come and complain that they’re too shiny. And that’s just sad because everybody has a different purpose, perception of what good government should be. I think local government works best at the local area. And, you know, people ask me what I want my legacy to be, and I tell them, I hope that they’ll remember that our county is a little bit better because I was part of it.

David Martin: Welcome to the Good Government Show. I’m your host, Dave Martin. On our last episode, we traveled to El Paso, Texas and talked to immigration there on this show, writing to Santa Cruz County, Arizona and talking with County Supervisor Manny Ruiz. In many ways, Manny is the embodiment of the American Dream. Born in Arizona to Mexican immigrant parents, he worked his way up and served on the county school board for 22 years.

He’s now serving his sixth term as a Santa Cruz County supervisor. His county is on the Mexican border and the largest city there. Nogales has three border crossings and an international airport. He’s another county official on the front lines of immigration. Like David Stout in El Paso. He doesn’t see a border crisis, but he does see policies that need to be changed.

And he sees problems that the county alone can’t fix. We first talked to the National Association of Counties conference in July 2023, in Austin, Texas. Since then, he has seen the border crossings increase. But he says they’ve been able to work with other surrounding counties to help, mostly to help transport their new migrants away from the border to other parts of the state.

He says the federal government needs to step in. He says using local taxpayer money on a national issue. That’s just not fair to the people of the county. Man, he says it’s time for politicians to put their partizan differences aside and work to actually find solutions. Until that happens, he says, there’s not going to be real change. So let’s listen to many rumors after this.

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Manny Ruiz: My name is Manuel Manny Reese. everybody calls me Manny. I’m a county supervisor from Santa Cruz County, Arizona, and our city that everybody usually knows is Nogales. So that’s where the, county complexes.

David Martin: So never been to Arizona, never been to Santa Cruz County. Describe your county. For me, it’s.

Manny Ruiz: Probably one of the most beautiful counties, especially when we have a lot of rain. It’s very green.

David Martin: do you get a lot of rain?

Manny Ruiz: this is a the monsoon season. And last year we got, probably close to ten inches, I think, which is a little bit above normal. our monsoons hasn’t, realized right now. So right now it’s pretty hot. And, you know, we’re not as hot as a Phenix area. We’re about ten degrees cooler usually, but we’re still up in the hundreds.

David Martin: It’s just the old West. What’s it like?

Manny Ruiz: You know, it’s it’s. It used to be really kind of like a railroad town, because a railroad came in to our community, you know, several, several, several years ago. And the town kind of grew around it. So at some point there was a little bit of agriculture. mostly now is kind of cattle that’s been run. So, you have the, the, ranchers at least, the forest land for grazing for their cattle and but not like the wild, wild west where, you know, everybody’s on, horses or get them up or shoot them up, but, no, that’s that’s a thing of the past.

David Martin: You ever work as a rancher on horseback?

Manny Ruiz: You know, unfortunately, I didn’t, but, I did work construction with my father from the time I was 13 years old, because he wanted to teach me how to be a man and how to be able to take care of myself. So, being the oldest of 11 children, it certainly was an education for me, so I, I loved it. did.

David Martin: You do well when you’re in construction, what are we building?

Manny Ruiz: Anything from, mixing cement, playing blocks, painting, fixing roofs, carpentry, a little bit of plumbing. Not so much electricity, but, like my dad said, he. I mean, if I’m going to be a carpenter here, I’m going to starve to death. So he learned how to do all the trades, and and, he showed us and some of my other brothers out to work and be able to take care of ourselves.

And it’s, a great lesson that he taught me.

David Martin: Other than being county commissioner, what is your background? What’s your work background?

Manny Ruiz: So, Wow, I’ve worked when I was,

David Martin: You know, this is a trick question. Sorry.

Manny Ruiz: I have to think about it, because most of my work experience was with my father working construction. but I did work, at a grocery store. I also worked at a gas station pumping gas at the old Gulf, gas station. And I don’t think they exist anymore. At least not out west. I worked for the, Arizona Cattlemen’s Association, which ran the, Inspection Service for produce quality.

So I worked a few years with them. I did quality control for some produce companies. I went to, California and worked in Salinas, Santa Maria. in fact, I was there for that big earthquake in 89 when the, bridge collapsed. So you traveled the world. Well, that and, fortunately, it happened the day after I dropped my wife off at the Oakland airport because she came to visit.

so I went across the Bay bridge. And the next day, after I had, dropped her off, that earthquake hit. So that bridge, collapsed. And, you know, by the grace of God, there was not a lot of traffic we weren’t on there. And so, it’s, an experience that, very hard to describe.

David Martin: Now in your capacity as an inspector with the Department of Agriculture. are you the guy to go grocery shopping with and pick out vegetables?

Manny Ruiz: Well, that’s what my wife tells me. So I guess.

David Martin: She’s just getting out to go to the grocery store.

Manny Ruiz: well, I right, right now, she takes me with and she says, okay, show me what you did and how you pick them. And for the most part, I do. I do a good job. So she she’s happy with me that I picked the good produce, the right produce.

David Martin: And so what should you look for when you’re buying produce? Give me some tips here.

Manny Ruiz: Oh, man. you know, first of all, for me, tomatoes have to be firm, so I usually squeeze them lightly. You know, for certain fruits, I like to kind of smell watermelons. Just tap them so that you hear that little side on them to make sure that they at least they’re good. So, you know, and then a lot of it is, you kind of look at it and you pick it and you hold it and you see, and like I say, you know, nine times out of ten I’ll pick a winner.

So that’s not bad.

David Martin: no. No, that’s that’s pretty good. what do you look for in strawberries?

Manny Ruiz: Oh, I like for me, I like them to be nice and red because I like them to be ripe. Because I’m going to eat them right away. I’m not going to put them in the refrigerator. I’ll go up and,

David Martin: Big or small. Do you order your strawberries?

Manny Ruiz: You know, I find most of the time that, medium sized berries, not too small, not the big ones are the best ones. Those are the ones I like. And then I cut them up, and then, put them in a bowl, put a little whipped cream, and, where we go.

David Martin: All right. Good. what are the issues that you’re working on? What’s going on in your county? What’s, what are the government projects that you’re dealing with?

Manny Ruiz: So, being a a border town.

David Martin: Or a county, we are here at the National Association of County.

Manny Ruiz: Or at a border county. you know, many of the issues that that we face, first of all, are deal with transportation, make sure that we have good roads. that our freeway system is able to handle the traffic that’s coming from from Mexico, both commercially and and private citizens that come over to our community to shop or go to Tucson or Phenix.

we have a huge produce distribution, companies, that distribute produce throughout the country during the winter. There’s about 3 billion pounds of produce that comes across the US Mexico border every winter, typically 1500 to 2500 trucks a day.

David Martin: What are they bringing in?

Manny Ruiz: anything from tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, holler panels, corn.

David Martin: I just said we had a jalapeno. We’re having a jalapeno shortage. Yeah.

Manny Ruiz: They are, and, I really love I love Plano. So, you know, when I get them, when we barbecue. Yeah, I’ll get them. I’ll put them in, and, olive oil. Then I get a little bit of, soy sauce, put it in a bowl, get some limes, squeeze the limes in the soy sauce, and then put my roasted, chilies in there and let them rest for a while.

Oh, great. For a barbecue.

David Martin: You do a lot of cooking.

Manny Ruiz: Says I love to barbecue. Yeah, that’s my my wife loves me to do because I. It’s less work for her.

David Martin: Sure, sure, sure. So we have we have your county to thank for, fresh peppers and tomatoes all winter long.

Manny Ruiz: During the winter. Yes. And it’s, it’s, it feeds, quite a bit of the country, during the winter. And it’s, you know, the competition for, the trucks crossing, of course, got nice, hot and heavy because of the state of Texas where we’re in right now, started giving incentives to companies to relocate their distribution centers to the border ports down here.

And many of our produce companies took advantage to open some satellite, offices down here, because over the years, the produce industry in, Santa Cruz County and Nogales, they had had it down pat. The distribution, the trucks coming in, going out the workforce to do that. So, you know, we still have a lot and a little bit of the volume went down, but not to where we’re at least very concerned right now.

So we’re still we’re still making it.

David Martin: So we hear a lot in the rest of the country about the problems at the border. Are you seeing that in your county and what’s it like to be a border county in 2023?

Manny Ruiz: Well, you know, for us, we are good neighbors. Mexico, the state of Sonora, which borders Arizona, is one of the biggest trading partners for the state of Arizona. So we have a very good working relationship. You know, immigration, of course, is an issue. we used to when I first came on to the Board of Supervisors.

In a typical year, we used to discover bodies in, in our, in our county that had passed away either because of the cold or the heat. So because we don’t have a forensics, lab in our, in our community, we had to send the remains to Tucson, which is Pima County. And that was, you know, 15 to $2000 to try to determine what the cause of death was for the for the remains that were found that has since dropped when, title 42 was lifted, everybody thought, we were going to have huge caravans of people crying.

David Martin: Just briefly explained title 42.

Manny Ruiz: Title 42 was, the Trump administration. And because of the health emergency for Covid, that, was the, you know, they were sending the migrants back. And when it was lifted, through the Biden administration and subsequently the courts did as well, then, the Department of Homeland Security and CBP, created an app that they’re using to, have migrants that want to, get, asylum that they can apply on the app.

they’ll get an alert to come to the border, they’ll come across, they’ll get interviewed, and then, they can be, released. And so we have a great partnership with Pima County, and, they will come and they will pick up the migrants, take them up to Tucson, and then they’ll, you know, get some more paperwork done, and then they’ll send them on their way to their family members.

David Martin: Is it hard to maintain a border?

Manny Ruiz: It is because there are a lot of areas that don’t have any kind of fencing because of the terrain, or you have, waterways. I mean, like arroyos in our case, or they’re dry. What? When it rains, they really slow. It just there’s a lot of different challenges, not just for our community, but even for the federal, agencies that protect our border.

David Martin: Do you feel like you have a good handle on your border now?

Manny Ruiz: I think we have it as secure as it can be. You know, that’s not saying that we can’t do better, but we also have to find a way to really six an immigration system that’s broken, and, and have the resources at the border for the migrants that are seeking asylum or want to come in so that the judges that hear their, their pleas court act on them a lot quicker, but unfortunately, there is a lot of and there’s not a lot of people that are doing that now.

So consequently they’re released and it could be ten years before they get their case heard. So, you know, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but, it really going to take the federal government to sit down and strategize and find a way to really fix what’s broken at our border.

David Martin: You said you’re a first generation Mexican American. Your parents came over. How did they get here?

Manny Ruiz: My parents immigrated back in 1955, and they had a sponsor. And I remember my dad telling me that the person that gave them the letter that said, you know, they would be responsible for them. My dad, of course, was always in construction. So the person that gave him that letter of recommendation would always call on, oh, I need this done or I need that done.

And and so one day my dad finally said, you know, thank you. I really appreciate it. But, you know, I’ve got a family to, to take care of. And, you know, if there’s something, do I need to pay you for this? You know, I just can’t drop everything I’m doing and come to, to do that. And and they they were really good about it.

They said, you know, we apologize. We’re sorry. And and and to this day, you know, the family that that did that we’re very grateful that they did that for my parents. And I even went to school with some of their kids, and one graduated with me. And, and, you know, we were friends and stuff. So it’s it was very different.

My dad immigrated in 1965 at the time, or he was probably making more money in Mexico than he came when he came to the States to make $0.75 a dollar an hour back in the.

David Martin: 50s to 85.

Manny Ruiz: Because it was his dream and he always wanted to come here. My dad is probably the smartest man I know. He has a second grade education from Mexico, but there wasn’t anything that he couldn’t do. There wasn’t anything he couldn’t build.

David Martin: Did you see he elected office?

Manny Ruiz: Oh, yeah. I in fact, my dad’s 97, so he.

David Martin: So he’s still with us up here.

Manny Ruiz: He’s 97 years of my mom’s 90.

David Martin: Is he does he call you up and say, son, what are you thinking?

Manny Ruiz: Oh, yeah, we do. I in fact, I go see them every day. And, you know, he’s one of my big campaign guys. He’s got this old Ford truck and he puts my signs on there, and he stands by the by the polling place with my picture on there. And he’s one of my, you know, big supporters and and he’s he always told me that you have to learn how to dream and you have to dream.

Dream big and you go out and you work hard and you accomplish what you want to, but at the same time, you you give back to the community. And I’ve been fortunate that the community that I grow in has given me the opportunity to serve on the Nogales Unified School District Board for the last 30 years, which has a tremendous impact on how our kids get educated on what we do.

And it gives me so much satisfaction to see those kids graduate and go to Stanford or Harvard or Columbia. Some are even going to MIT. That is one of the most, you know, rewarding feeling for me as an elected official. And then when it comes to the county is the same way. There’s a lot of sadness faction because as public servants, and that’s what we are public servants.

We’re there to address the needs of our constituents, and that’s what many people forget. So if you get a call and you can help them, you help them. If you can’t, you say, I can’t because and you give them the reason why you can’t.

David Martin: It is sort of the the ultimate American story, I guess, and a little impressive to go from, dad comes into this country with his second, you said second grade education, and his son sits on the education board. And as a county commissioner.

Manny Ruiz: you know what my dad told me says, I wish I would have had the opportunities you guys had. And. And he’s right. I mean.

David Martin: That’s why I came to the States, right?

Manny Ruiz: He did. He he saw that this was the opportunity for him to raise his family. And, my dad has worked very hard, for many years. He built a home we live in. Well, yeah.

David Martin: Did you help?

Manny Ruiz: probably a little bit, but mostly not because we were young when he was building it. I remember, when you started building the house and we moved. We used to come with him because the school that I was going to be going to was near where he was building the house. So I was probably in second grade and we would come with him.

He was working on some apartments across the school. So I was so neat that at lunchtime we would walk over to him, he would build a little fire, then he would put this little, piece of, of iron on the fire, and he’d heat up the burritos that he had brought for us to eat. So we had a warm school lunch.

David Martin: Dad made burritos at school.

Manny Ruiz: Oh, no, my mom made lunch. Oh, yeah. My my dad just brought it, but he warmed them up for us.

David Martin: Oh, that’s that’s pretty handy. there are a lot of people in this country who have a very negative impression of Mexicans, of of immigrants, of people who have come into the states. you know, your background, your experience. What would you say to those folks?

Manny Ruiz: You can’t judge a book by its cover. I mean the vast majority. Well, let me rephrase this. This country is made of immigrants, and everybody’s family came from somewhere else. We weren’t all born here, but from what I’ve seen, the work ethic of many of my, of the Hispanic population is they’re coming to work. They want to work.

They want to do, they want to make well for their families as well. They want to, you know, have the nice house. They want to feed their family. They want to produce a lot of things for their own family. So, this country needs a lot of agricultural workers. Construction workers. We need doctors. We need nurses.

And there are a lot of immigrants that bring those skills that can blend into our culture, into our community, and continue to make us stronger. They just need an opportunity sometimes. And, you know, some of the families of of many of our good American people that came from elsewhere had that opportunity, and they turned that into success.

David Martin: As you’ve done.

Manny Ruiz: Well, I hope I have, and I hope I’ve inspired my children, and I hope I can continue to inspire my two grandchildren that I have, because that’s the legacy that I want them to think about their grandfather, just like I’m thinking of the legacy that my father has given me to carry on representing. And the Reese family name.

David Martin: Okay. all right. Now, that was the easy part. Now we’re going to get into your personal philosophy of governance. Are you ready for this? Ready. All right. This is our questionnaire. So, how long have you served as county commissioner? county supervisor?

Manny Ruiz: 22 years.

David Martin: Right, 22 years. Define good government.

Manny Ruiz: Good government is being able to meet the needs of your constituents. If they call you, you address their needs. If you can help them, you help them. And if you can help them, you tell them why you can’t.

David Martin: How do they react to being told they can’t be helped?

Manny Ruiz: Well, they’ll get a little mad, but eventually, you know, you talk a little more and then they understand that we can’t protect private property. We can’t put a light on there on their backyard. But if there’s an issue that’s on the street corner where they need the light, then we can act on that.

David Martin: How do you judge your success?

Manny Ruiz: I believe that that I do. Well, I’m not going to say great or excellent because there’s always room for improvement, but I feel very good that I’m able to help not just the constituents in the district that I represent, but those, constituents from my two colleagues districts, because they call me and they say, what can you do to help?

And then I try to find solutions.

David Martin: How do you know if you’re doing a good job, though? How do you how do you judge yourself?

Manny Ruiz: It makes me feel good. And one staff tells me the job has been completed. That’s fine. And occasionally I’ll get someone call me and say, thank you very much.

David Martin: That’s that’s.

So everyone that’s why I get it out of court.

Manny Ruiz: It’s. In fact, I will tell you this. I was walking out of a meeting the other day, and I out of the courthouse, and this gentleman pulls up in a car, lowers his window, and he says, thank you for what you do. And I’m going, wow, he made my day.

David Martin: How how do people know you’re the citizens, your constituents? And, in Santa Cruz County, how should they know if they’re getting good government? What should they use as a yardstick?

Manny Ruiz: Well, you know, it’s it’s very hard in these difficult political times to really find one answer to that problem. I will say this, that I have a good friend of mine that’s a developer that told me one time he says, you know what, Manny? I could pave all the roads with gold and there’d be somebody come and complain that they’re too shiny.

And that’s just sad, because everybody has a different perception of what good government should be.

David Martin: If people feel like they’re not getting the government that they want, what should they do?

Manny Ruiz: Well, there is an election coming up in, next year. And so you look for that person that you think will be able to do that, but don’t give up on the person that’s there already, because over the years there have been a lot of successes that we’ve had. There’s a lot of things that we’ve we’ve created, we were able to establish a, a provisional community college district, which we didn’t have.

So we had to lobby the state legislature to do that. we built a new, courthouse and jail building. we had, had to bond to build a, a bridge over to have to finish a Corps of Engineers project that, when it was first taken on by the Corps, was going to cost $3 million. And by the end, if we hadn’t paid for the bridge, it probably would have been over $60 million.

David Martin: What should people do if they don’t like what they’re seeing? What do you want them to do?

Manny Ruiz: Come and talk to me. Tell me you’re not doing a good job. Why aren’t you doing this? You know, the only way we can turn things around is communicating. don’t write a letter to the editor saying how bad things are. Come to me sad face to face with me and say, you know what, Manny? You really are not doing a good job because of this, this and this.

And if you’re straightforward with people, you’ll get a straight answer and then you’ll be able to maybe not convince them that you’re doing a great job. But at least so they’ll see your point of view and some of the constraints that we have.

David Martin: Or at least they’ll hear it.

Manny Ruiz: Yeah, they’ll hear it. I mean, you know, we all have lawyers. And the great thing about lawyers is they tell you what you can do, why you can’t do it. And I tell them, tell me how I can do it.

David Martin: So 22 years, County supervisor, what would you like people to know about how government works?

Manny Ruiz: I think local government works best at the local area. And as you keep moving on the food chain, state government’s a little bit slower because there are some times that we need the support, we need the funding from the state level, and then we go on to the federal level. We’re there are some things that are beyond our control that we don’t have the funding or it’s a federal issue in it.

When you get to the federal level, then you begin to get to the speed of snail and the speed of snail is where something should be done quickly to kind of like, kind of like our core project ten, 20 years later, maybe you’re doing that. I’m my hope is now that we’re able to convince our delegation from the federal government, and they have been coming through for us because they know some of the projects that we need are vital for our community to continue to grow and prosper.

So we’ve gotten some good allocations of of dollars for, infrastructure projects.

David Martin: So who’s your political hero? What who inspired you to run for office?

Manny Ruiz: Hmhm. That’s a good question.

David Martin: It wasn’t supposed to be a trick question. So what? But what inspired you to run for office? What inspired you to get involved?

Manny Ruiz: I recall I got to our, principal at the high school who was my Spanish teacher.

David Martin: Wait a minute, wait a minute. You’re a Mexican-American and you took Spanish.

Manny Ruiz: Spanish?

David Martin: I hope you had a day.

Manny Ruiz: Yeah, I know I would. I tell people I speak two languages and I speak both of them very badly, but. But, Well, it was either German or French, and I felt more comfortable with, with my own language, so, and I did. Well, I mean, I passed the class because you had to get a foreign language to get your diploma, right.

So, anyway, the principal doctor role that I know was unfairly chastised and moved from the high school to an elementary school and, I went to a school board meeting. And you remember those famous words, I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore. I said those words at that school board meeting and the former superintendent reached out to me and says, we need you to run and recall the board.

And that’s how I got. So I would I would say it was because of how something that they did to a person that I really admired, and I still do, for what he’s done. He became our superintendent. We became one heck of a superintendent.

David Martin: And is there anybody, though, in politics that, like you, that you consider to be a hero?

Manny Ruiz: You know, there’s there’s I mean, I remember John Kennedy. I remember, you know, when, when he gave a speech at the inauguration and then when he talked about, you know, going to the moon and or do not ask what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. I mean, I see a John McCain on the other side, that and that, and, you know, sometimes I didn’t agree a lot with his philosophy, but he was always straight with me.

you know, over the years I’ve, I’ve, I’ve met a lot of, individuals that have been doing this a lot longer that are probably more well polished with what they do. But, I mean, at the end of the day, when I look at this, I wish my dad would have been a politician because I think he probably would have done a lot better than than me.

But I’m I’m very grateful to to his lessons. I’m very grateful to him pushing us to be better. And, you know, those are some of the things that at the end of the day, you know, you really can’t put a value on. And so you move forward and, and, you know, I see, you know, Lyndon Johnson, who when he signed the civil rights, we’re in Texas.

so there’s a lot of people, I think, when you think about it, that maybe contributed to why I got involved or why I want to serve the public.

David Martin: It sort of inspired you along the way.

Manny Ruiz: Yeah. And so it’s it’s always great. And you know what? I will tell you this. I have a lot of friends that I’ve made in Naco that inspire me to be just like them.

David Martin: Other county commissioners.

Manny Ruiz: Greg Puckett being one from West Virginia, Phyllis Randall up in Maryland, Leanna Fowler, who is, from Coconino County, who who’s on a reservation that is out there looking for ways to provide for, her people to have internet when they don’t have water or electricity going to their homes. a lot of, of, of great people that are members of Naco that that really do inspire me.

David Martin: I have never been to Arizona. I have never been to Santa Cruz County. I’m a little concerned about your, your, jalapeno oil rub. There might be a little too much heat for me, but where are we going? Let’s go out and have a meal. What do we have and what are you cooking? Where are we going?

Manny Ruiz: I’ll take you to my mom’s house. She makes the best, beef tacos and rice and soup. I mean, they’re better than, you can get them anywhere else, and they’re. They’re made. So I’m fortunate she’s still there.

David Martin: She’s. She has she showed you how to make it?

Manny Ruiz: You know what? I know how she makes some. I just, would rather let the master do it and not have me mess it up.

David Martin: All right. What do you you said you love to grill. What do you what do you cook?

Manny Ruiz: I love to go to Costco. And I like to buy the salami. Onions. Okay. And, so I’ll. I’ll grill those all the time for my wife and my family, and, I’ve gotten pretty good at it.

David Martin: So you talked a little bit about your background in you were inspired, were you, president of your student council? Were you class president? Did you always just did you think you’d be president someday or county commissioner?

Manny Ruiz: No. That was the furthest thing from my mind. I mean, I had a lot of my friends that that were in stucco or, you know, I belonged to some clubs, like the Science Club was one of my favorite clubs. And then the chess club. I mean, I remember sitting at, a restaurant called Sam Bowes back in the day.

We were playing chess and eating French fries with, thousand Island dressing. but no, I mean, I never really got into the student council.

David Martin: Or just wasn’t. It wasn’t something you aspired to do all the time.

Manny Ruiz: It wasn’t. And in fact, some of my friends always looked at me, says, how did you wind up here? I said, well, I guess just, luck of the draw. You know, I was at the right place at the right time, I guess.

David Martin: 22 years. County supervisor, give me your favorite example of some good government that you were able to provide.

Manny Ruiz: Probably the one that I’m most proud of is working to create the provision of community college. because in the state of Arizona, there are some requirements. In order to have a community college where you have to have the assessed value in the population, and being a community of 50,000, we didn’t qualify under either. So we worked very hard to have the state legislature, create a statute that would allow the community to vote to create a community college, a provisional community college.

We still have to to, contract with a accredited community college to provide services. And so that was a big lift at the time, because we want to make sure that our students have the opportunity at least to get some type of education. locally. And then, if they want to go to a four year institution, and get a higher degree, then, you know, at least they’ve got their basics out of the way, whether it’s their math courses or their language courses or whatever.

David Martin: They. Sure. Yeah. The basic stuff.

Manny Ruiz: And so that was probably one of the, the, the biggest accomplishments for me. But, you know, like I said, passing a jail district to build a jail, building the bridge, a lot of things that and it is a combination and, and and, you know, people ask me what I want my legacy to be. And I tell them, I hope that that they’ll remember that our county is a little bit better.

Because I was part of it.

David Martin: Is there are going to be a many roads park?

Manny Ruiz: probably not.

David Martin: Bridge. What do you get?

Manny Ruiz: No, I, you know, as long as I remember remember me fondly. That’s the biggest reward I can have. And if I would name anything with my last name, it would probably be in my father’s name.

David Martin: Okay. All right.

Manny Ruiz: Because there’s two, you know, she raised she bore 11 kids, and she never worked outside the home.

David Martin: But, she made the burritos for school lunch.

Manny Ruiz: Oh, she made tortillas for us every day. I mean, 6 or 7 dozens. She’d get up at five in the morning. We’d have fresh dirt. Is for breakfast. We would walk home for school. Fresh dirt? Yes, for lunch. And fresh dirt deals for dinner.

David Martin: Does your whole family still live in the town? In the county?

Manny Ruiz: No, actually, you know, I’ve had two brothers that have passed away, so, but, I have, one brother in Georgia. I have two sisters in Nebraska. I have one brother in Phenix. I have one brother in Tucson. And as the oldest, I’m the one that’s that’s there. So usually if something happens, I get the call.

You know, your dad’s going to the hospital or your mom’s not doing well. So I have a sister living with them, taking care of them, but they still call me.

David Martin: You’re the oldest. So you’re in charge?

Manny Ruiz: Yeah. I don’t know how in charge I am, but I love, I love doing that for them. I mean, they took care of us. It’s our turn to take care of them.

David Martin: Dad taught you how to work construction.

Manny Ruiz: Oh, he did, man. I learned how to paint and stuff, and. And my wife says, when are you going to retire? And I say, why do you want me to retire? Well, I’ve got all these honeydew things. I said, I’m not ready yet.

David Martin: She’s got a list. She’s just waiting for you. He’s got.

Manny Ruiz: A list. I’m trying to outlive the list or, you know, but, eventually I will.

David Martin: So many. Ruiz, county supervisor, Santa Cruz County, Arizona. Pleasure to meet you. Thanks for stopping by.

Manny Ruiz: Thank you, my friend. I really appreciate it. And I hope my comments go will go well. And it’s just an honor to be able to serve the people of Santa Cruz County. I’ve been fortunate in the school district, and I am just, a very lucky guy.

David Martin: Yeah, I guess so. I guess dad made the right moves.

Manny Ruiz: He did. I, you know, I, I thank him and my mom for, deciding that, when they immigrated, I was born here because they were married five years before they had kids. And after that, there was ten more. So.

David Martin: All right. So they were busy parents at every way.

Manny Ruiz: And, they they were I they were very busy. So, very fortunate.

David Martin: Thanks very much for talking to us.

Manny Ruiz: Thank you. David, I appreciate it.

David Martin: What is it the county government does? That’s the question county commissioners get asked the most. And the simple answer is everything on the good government show. We’re so lucky to have talked with so many county commissioners and other county officials that have shown us how effective county government is. County government dates back to get this 1634, making it one of the oldest forms of government in the United States.

Think about it. Roads, highways. Hospitals. Schools, recycling. Law enforcement, water, sewers, and most of the county. Those services are maintained by the county that’s county government. The National Association of Counties represents all 3069 counties across the USA. Naco helps county government work better together through things like sharing best practices. When county government works well, well, that’s just good government.

A dad that heats up your school lunch, that’s a good dad to have around, and a dad that dream of raising his 11 kids in America. Many roads is truly what makes America great. He wants to continue to inspire other people to get their share of the American dream. Well, he has, and he continues to show that the American dream works.

Well, that’s our show. Please like us and share us with your friends and review us right here where you’re listening. And don’t forget to check out our website, The Good Government for some extras. Join us again for another episode of The Good Government Show. But before you do that, if you like what we’re doing here at the Good Government Show, check out our friends over at How to Really Run a City podcast.

It’s hosted by a couple of smart, hilarious and outspoken former two term mayors Atlanta’s Kasim Reed and Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter. Each episode features a different A-list guest sharing their secrets about how to really get stuff done in these urban laboratories we call cities. Check out how to really Run a City, brought to you by the nonprofit Philadelphia Citizen and co-hosted by award winning journalist and author Larry Platt.

And that’s wherever you get your podcasts. And check them out at the Philadelphia So thanks for listening. I’m Dave Martin and this is the Good Government show.

The Good Government show is a Valley Park production. Jim Mundo, Dave Martin, that’s me and David Snyder are the executive producers. Our show is edited and produced by Jason Stershic. Please subscribe then share and like us and reviews. That’s the best way to make sure we’re able to keep telling these stories of our government working for all of us.

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**This transcription was created using digital tools and has not been edited by a live person. We apologize for any discrepancies or errors.