Since 2016, Jake Agron has led the Arizona Senate Research Department, which provides nonpartisan, objective research and policy analysis to the elected members of the chamber.
Now Agron is returning to his Sun Devil roots — he graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in political science before going off to earn a law degree from the City University of New York — to oversee the Morrison Institute for Public Policy’s Arizona Governance and Policy Academy.
The Arizona Governance and Policy Academy offers information sessions on complex yet critical public policy issues — such as the economy, tribal sovereignty, water, housing, tourism and child welfare — that Arizona’s elected leaders at all levels of government are likely to encounter as policymakers. One objective of the academy is to connect elected officials and their staff with subject matter expertise from across ASU, the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University. The Arizona Governance and Policy Academy is supported with funding from APS.
As Morrison Institute’s director of civic education and governance, Agron will also be responsible for designing and conducting Arizona-focused research related to governance, civic education, election administration, ballot access, and voter registration and turnout. He’ll also be developing resources aimed at making government entities and processes more transparent and accessible to Arizona residents.
Question: You’ve spent more than a decade working at the Arizona Capitol. Much of that time, you led the team that provides nonpartisan research to members of the Arizona Senate. How did that experience prepare you to lead the Arizona Governance and Policy Academy and connect ASU expertise to elected officials?
Answer: My experience working at the Arizona Senate has prepared me for this role in two major respects. First, I understand the needs of elected officials and their staff as they navigate the complex process and schedule of lawmaking. Additionally, I have spent my career providing nonpartisan analysis in a very political environment. I look forward to continuing to connect policymakers to nonpartisan research as part of the Arizona Governance and Policy Academy.
Q: You’ve had more of an insider’s chance than most Arizonans to see what works — and what doesn’t — with respect to our state and local government structures. What are some topics related to Arizona governance that you think are ripe for research?
A: We’re certainly in an opportunistic moment in which stakeholders from across the political spectrum are interested in criminal justice reform. I think there is certainly a desire for specific and targeted research on safe ways to reduce the prison population. The other topics that are ripe for research are those related to emerging technologies that are not widely understood. For example, blockchain technology will likely have a growing impact in many industries and policymakers will be confronted with the role of government regulation in those various sectors.
Q: What’s something you wish Arizonans knew about how the Arizona Capitol works?
A: The range of topics legislators are confronted with at the Capitol each year can feel insurmountable — especially for newly elected members. With that said, there is a genuine desire at the Capitol, whether by elected officials or their staff, to want to learn more about how proposed legislation will affect their constituents.