By Rick Beitman, Guest Writer
The 2018 U.S. midterm election season is in swing and with November 6 a short seven months away, Thunderbird alumnus José Torres, Class of 2009, has thrown his hat in the ring in Arizona’s 5th Congressional District. While more moderate, Torres is running as a Democrat for Congress in the Southeast Valley suburbs in the primary and expects to square off against incumbent GOP Representative Andy Biggs in November.
When asked what made him decide to run for Congress, Torres spoke to the shift in the political climate since 2016, “The world suddenly needed real people to step up and run for office.” An engineer by profession, Torres is new to running for office, but is familiar with politics. A self-ascribed history buff, Torres credits his father, a social studies teacher, and has always made a habit of keeping up with political happenings on the nightly news.
Having worked 20 years for major firms like Intel, Motorola SPS, and other heavy hitters, Torres is no stranger to office politics. However, as his professional life became “more political and less engineering” he surmised that, “If I am going to be a political animal, I want to do good in the world. I want to restore honesty, integrity, and faith and trust in society. It is something I have to do.”
A 2nd generation native of Arizona and the descendant of copper miners, Torres is about as homegrown as they come. Born in Mesa and raised in Tempe, Torres attended Corona del Sol High School and later studied engineering and mathematics at Arizona State University. Today, Torres is a homeowner in Gilbert where he and his wife Sylvia have raised three children.
Torres obtained his MBA through the Executive Education program at the Thunderbird School of Global Management. Torres picked Thunderbird because he saw the importance of “having a foot in multiple cultures” had “always admired it” and was looking for something that would “transform [his] life”. The more he learned about Thunderbird, “The more it became imperative. Nothing else would be better.”
Courses like Cross-Cultural Communications, taught by Dr. Denis Leclerc, benefited Torres the most. “Because of [that course], I understood myself so much better. It explained past shortcomings and failures. It gives the power to be truly universal and that being global is real, not just an idea.”
Attending the Campus Tribute scheduled for April 6-8, Torres has an affection for the school’s original location, “I love the history of the campus. I would like the legacy of the tower preserved as much as possible.” However, Torres also acknowledged that, “Downtown Phoenix is a longer-term strategy than the old campus,” and may attract more students. Regardless of the location, Torres is committed to T-Bird values, resolutely stating, “We took an oath.”
Unimpressed with Andy Biggs’ performance in a town hall meeting, Torres felt compelled to run because, “No one else would stand up to him.” Torres believes Thunderbird’s values are under fire. “Ideas of globalism are under attack. Our values are understanding and respecting different cultures. I believe in international trade and comparative advantage, not tariffs. The current political environment is drifting away from that. This is becoming a global phenomenon and it will be the challenge of our generation.”
On the issues, Torres focuses on the economy and jobs, and, holding no punches, says, “Trade wars are stupid.” He believes in a strong dollar policy, improving the healthcare system, and reasonable gun legislation. Torres owns 12 firearms, all inherited and some which hold historical interest. He supports the 2 nd Amendment and responsible ownership, however, Torres recognizes the prescient need for common-sense reforms. Lastly, Torres also focuses on education, knowing firsthand the struggles of Arizona teachers such as his wife, his parents, and other family members.
As an engineer, Torres has always enjoyed solving problems and believes the same of Thunderbird, stating that its “genesis was to solve real problems” in the world. Torres exhorts that, “Thunderbird was founded on the idea of building as many bridges as possible,” and that is what he intends to do as a member of Congress.
Rick Beitman is a Thunderbird alumnus and a former Editor-in- Chief of Das Tor.