Biography of Kent Solberg, Candidate for the Arizona State Legislature, District 27

Kent Solberg and Butch

Kent was born and raised in Somerville, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston. As a young man, he got his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at Boston University and started his Masters in Social Work at the Wurtzweiller School of Social Work in New York City.  Kent was active in school politics, coached Little League and worked with teenagers in the B’nai Brith Youth Organization.  After Kent’s first year of graduate school, he organized a group of volunteers, undergraduate and graduate students, to develop a summer program for kids on the San Carlos Apache Reservation in San Carlos, Arizona. He and six other volunteers worked with the tribal staff and Apache volunteers in developing photography, arts and crafts and athletic programs. Kent worked with kid’s ages 10 to15 who were in the local jail.  Many of them had been in jail for 4 to 12 months for sniffing paint, truancy, running away or just not having any other place to go.  Kent was able to get them out of jail on a daily basis, get them showers and clean clothes and involve them in the summer programs. Eventually they were all released and returned home to parents or relatives.  When the summer ended the Bureau of Indian Affairs was so impressed with Kent’s work that they offered him a full time position.  Kent worked at helping to develop a Juvenile Legal Code, a juvenile detention and rehabilitation center and a work-study program for high school students. Unfortunately, after six months President Nixon put a freeze on federal hiring and Kent’s job never became permanent.

Kent had fallen in love with Arizona and he moved to Tucson in the spring of 1972.  Kent has lived in Tucson the past 38 years and he has been married to his wife and partner Salle Hunter for 35 of those years. Kent and Salle bought their home on E. Blacklidge (in LD 27) 34 years ago and they, along with their friend Butch Lee, opened their store, Kent’s Tools at the Tanque Verde Swap meet in1978 and on Grant Road (also in LD 27) in 1987.

When Kent arrived in Tucson, he worked at Family Counseling Agency where he coordinated an aftercare program for state and federal probationers and parolees with histories of drug abuse.  He also did individual and family counseling. During this period Kent finished his Masters in Social Work by commuting weekly To ASU.  Kent was the Youth Director at the Jewish Community Center and the Director of the Pima County Juvenile Justice Collaboration.

Kent is well known in the community for his work on such key community issues as: Evan Mecham Recall, the Dr. Martin Luther King Celebration Committee, the defeat of the Grant Rd and Campbell Ave underpass with the Grant Rd. Merchants Association and his opposition to the RTA.  He has been the volunteer Chair and the patient advocate trainer of the Free Clinic of Tucson, an active member of the Keeling Neighborhood Association, and a leader in the Green Party of Pima County, where he currently serves as their Co-Chair. And despite his degree from ASU, he is an avid Wildcats fan!

Kent’s Tools [on Grant Road, one block E of Stone] is a unique small business. When Kent, along with Salle and Butch, began their business, they essentially cast their lot in the world of blue-collar work. Kent grew up back east in his family owned hardware store.  His parents started their business with 30 rolls of wallpaper, four gallons of paint and 2 kegs of nails.  Kent, Salle and Butch essentially started Kent’s Tools the same way. After having back surgery and not being able to find a paying social work job during the recession of the late 70’s, and with an old pickup truck and $50.00 dollars in their pockets they started selling miscellaneous items at the swap meet just to survive. This turned in to a real business and the rest is history.

Kent’s Tools is a one of a kind place. It isn’t just a used tools store. Kent’s Tools sell new, used and surplus tools of all kinds. They specialize in hard to find tools and machinery. They cater to the do it yourselfer, blue-collar workers, small businesses, manufacturers and other industry. They buy and sell used tools and are proud of their ability to recycle tools and give them new homes with people who need them, or can’t afford new ones or just plain like the feel of a quality vintage tool. Kent’s Tools prides itself on selling quality tools. Don’t expect to find rows upon rows of cheaply made tools from China, wrapped in annoying layers of plastic at Kent’s store. Rather you will find bins and shelves of good quality new and used products mostly made here in the U.S. by our companies and made by American workers.

Kent is the real deal; he has met a payroll year in and year out for 32 years, advocated for small, local businesses and for the community where he has lived, walking distance from his workplace. He understands money, and he understands and lives the Green Party "key values" of personal and global responsibility. He gets it that you don't dump the disabled, and toss babies out the window while you sit on the resources to help them. He gets it that the environment needs protecting, and that the economy needs to be reconfigured to fit the new realities of global warming and depleted resources. He gets it that times are tough and that average people like you are concerned about the economy, your kids schools, whether we will have enough water in future years, and that everyone, whether insured or not, can get available quality health care. Kent believes that government's only reason for existence is to be part of the solution to these and other problems and he has the experience to know how to get things done.

Kent ran for the Arizona State Legislature two years ago as the Green Party candidate. He ran against two Democratic incumbents in a very Democratic presidential year. Although he didn't win, the problems that he identified, the issues that he raised, and the solutions that he proposed changed the debate then and are even more important now for the upcoming election. Due to term limits, those incumbents are no longer in office and Kent’s chances are much better. Two years ago the Arizona Daily Star endorsed Kent instead of one of the Democratic incumbents.  Kent's understanding of the human condition and the plight of small businesses and the working class make him the most qualified candidate to represent you in our state legislature.

“I feel stronger than ever that we need a new and different kind of leadership in Phoenix. It is important that our message for real progressive change gets out to the public. That’s why I’m running again.” 

As owner/manager of Kent’s Tools for 32 years, Kent has the right tools to fix the State Legislature!