For 45 of her 55 years on earth, Kari Hull has been a Prescott resident, and she loves being here — even if it’s one of the more challenging places to be a paid organizer for Democratic candidates or educational and environmental nonprofits, an area dominated by Republicans.
But she clearly loves the city and enjoys her work, even when a campaign effort ends in a loss. “I’m a glass-half-full kind of gal, no matter what,” Hull said. “That’s why I try to stay focused on the big wins and shoot for the stars.”
Hull grew up in Prescott, moved to Flagstaff to earn a degree in hospitality management from Northern Arizona University, then to the Phoenix area for her first job. After marrying and having her first child, she and husband Tim decided to relocate to Prescott to raise their kids. Their two daughters went to the same elementary school Hull attended. While working together in a home-based business, American Art Studio, which creates decorative ceramic art, Hull became interested in volunteering for the Kerry presidential campaign in 2004. She volunteered for the Yavapai County Democratic Party when her daughters were four and seven.
“I remember the first time they had me making phone calls, and my heart was racing,” Hull said.
It wasn’t long before she was a seasoned phone-banker and door-knocker, even leading her own team of volunteers in staging canvassing from her home. She worked hard for Kerry, but, “I cried hard when we lost.”
Hull took a long break from organizing after that, and came back for more in 2016, when Hillary Clinton was running for president. She was hired as a Clinton field organizer for the Yavapai County Democratic Party. It was a tough assignment.
“Professionally, organizing with a national group, the Democratic National Committee, was very challenging to me because I am very much a maverick,” Hull said. “Often, especially in political work, if you follow directions and don’t really look at what the work is, it’s a perpetual cycle of not changing and instead you need to pivot,” Hull reflects.
Hull stuck with it, even though some of the work went against her instincts. She said she built a solid campaign team, but once it was over the team left and the organization folded. It left her wishing to be able to build a lasting organization.
Because of her experience, in 2017 she worked as a volunteer campaign manager on Joe Viccica’s run for Prescott City Council. Though he lost, she created a tight team and learned from the experience. In 2018 she was hired as campaign manager for Jo Craycraft, running for the AZ Senate. “The most important thing to me was doing the work and keeping it going. It was a phenomenal experience working for Craycraft — she was a great candidate, and we got to do it our way.”
The same year Hull began working for the Invest in Ed campaign, funded by the Arizona Education Association. She had a small paid organizing contract to help organize teachers, parents and retired educators in the Verde Valley. During that time she met a representative of the Northern Arizona Climate Change Alliance, a 501(c)3 that later recruited her as an organizer, work she did for two years.
After leaving that position, she became vice chair for Precinct Leadership for the Yavapai County Democratic Party, a volunteer position. Prescott organizer Nicky Indicavitch, with whom she worked on education-funding-related campaigns, is collaborating with her on building the local party organization to work to elect candidates. Indicavitch is the statewide outreach director for Save Our Schools Arizona.
“We wanted to talk to neighbors and engage in political work as part of the new congressional district,” Hull said.
Hull most recently was recruited to work for veteran Congressman Tom O’Halleran, whose Congressional District 2 — after redistricting last year — includes Yavapai County and 14 tribal nations in a staggering total of 66,000 square miles, one of the largest congressional districts in the country. As field director she will be training staff and organizing 50 volunteer captains across the district in various areas, like Payson and Pinetop.
Hull said O’Halleran, a Democrat, is an excellent candidate to work for because of his sterling record and reputation for crossing the aisle in the House.
“He’s not a Bernie or an AOC or flashy, but he’s hard-working and puts official events before campaign events,” Hull said. “He doesn’t want to stop doing the work he was elected to do to get elected again. He’s honest, straightforward, and has integrity.”
Hull said many volunteers have been reaching out to the campaign, due largely to the Supreme Court’s expected overturning of abortion rights.
“I would like to think that my increase in volunteers is based on my amazing outreach abilities, but the large numbers showing up for canvasses are very much based on Roe v. Wade,” Hull said.
While her daughters were Sanders supporters and, like many in their 20s, disillusioned about the political realm, Hull remains optimistic about the future of Arizona. She’s heartened that the state is so close to electing a Democratic majority. She calls it “ground zero” for democracy due to our legislature’s attacks on voting rights, women’s rights and election integrity.
“To move things forward, you have to be political,” Hull said. “Everything is political.”