Carmen Guerrero, a long-time Mesa resident, community activist, and arts and education advocate and Rey Torres, President of the Arizona Latino Republican Association (ALRA) and co-host of Radio ALRA, talk about the Senator Pearce recall election.
José Cárdenas: As we discussed earlier, the first recall election for the state legislator in Arizona is less than a week away. The voters in Mesa's legislative district 18 are going to decide if they want to keep senator Russell Pearce in office or if they want to replace him with challenger Jerry Lewis. With me to talk about this historic recall election is Carmen Guerrero, longtime resident, community activist, arts and education advocate. Also here is Rey Torres president of the Arizona Latino Republican association. Thank you both for joining us on "Horizonte." A lot to talk about. The race is next week. Carmen, let's start with you. You've been involved in --
Carmen Guerrero: Yes.
José Cárdenas: -- in the community in many respects, politically and other respects. Why are you supporting Jerry Lewis?
Carmen Guerrero: I think we need a new leader in Mesa that listens to our community and governs by consensus and helps our education and jobs. I'm pleased to support my neighbor, Jerry Lewis, I think he's that person and I think that Mr. Pearce became too extreme for Arizona, and too extreme for Mesa and he has not brought businesses or helped our education at all and those are big issues for our community.
José Cárdenas: In many respect, Jerry Lewis' political viewpoints are very conservative.
Carmen Guerrero: I know that, I don't necessarily agree with everything he stands for, but I think he brings a fresh voice to our community and a fresh beginning and would be the right person to be our senator.
José Cárdenas: Rey, you don't live in district 18 but grew up in the east valley.
Rey Torres: Yes.
José Cárdenas: And you have some connections to Mesa. Relatively new in your current position.
Rey Torres: Uh-huh.
José Cárdenas: Why, given senator Pearce's position on a variety of hot-button issues for the Latino community, why would you support him?
Rey Torres: It's all about S.B. 1070 and aren't supporting Jerry Lewis and the issues that he happens to support or is against. It's all about S.B. 1070 so Russell Pearce was a vanguard in this effort. It's clear that we support 100% the S.B. 1070 as well as a number of other Latinos in the community and this has nothing do with education -- this has nothing to do with anything else --
José Cárdenas: Concerns about Russell Pearce's positions or at least how he expresses them?
Rey Torres: No. The only issue with people in certain echelons of the left in the Latino community, his skin color. It's we saying the exact thing he's saying. We don't agree with when it comes to S.B. 1070, with the implementation of it, and the reason it was sought for in the first place.
José Cárdenas: Do you have any sense of the level of the support for senator Pearce in district 18?
Rey Torres: Not district 18, but he's not been close to being defeated in any election. This election is a complete farce. Organized and paid for by outside forces.
José Cárdenas: What basis to you that. The numbers in the republic indicate that Lewis' support is mostly Mesa and Pearce has substantial outside support. Exactly the opposite of what you just said.
Rey Torres: But the initiation, where did it come from? Why did they not try to win in a prior election when it actually mattered? Where is the actual need for this recall? This is unprecedented.
Carmen Guerrero: I take issue with that. You're probably -- you are -- the problem we have. 10,300 Mesa residents and voters in district 18 are the ones who signed the recall petition. It's up to us. Not one person.
Rey Torres: Of course, it does, absolutely.
Carmen Guerrero: We're the ones calling. I'm the one knocking on doors.
Rey Torres: And who is paying for you guys to do this?
Carmen Guerrero: I'm not getting paid.
Rey Torres: No one in your organizations are getting paid? To do this?
José Cárdenas: Do you have any basis for making those statements?
Rey Torres: The fact that they've never been there in any election prior to this. Where have they been, if they've been so adamant about supporting somebody like Jerry Lewis?
José Cárdenas: Beyond that, do you have any evidence.
Rey Torres: Not with me, unfortunately.
José Cárdenas: How do you deal with the fact that so much of Lewis' support come interests Mesa and Pearce comes from outside of Arizona?
Rey Torres: Because he's been as I said, the vanguard for an issue that's received such nationwide attention. S.B. 1070 has been basically the -- the -- the piece of legislation that's allowed so many other states, most recently, Alabama, to highlight the need to take on issues that the federal government is unable or unwilling to do.
José Cárdenas: Are there any issues that Lewis expressed his views that you disagree?
Rey Torres: Absolutely, S.B. 1070. It's what the recall election is about. Let's not kid ourselves.
Carmen Guerrero: There's the problem with Mr. Pearce, he's stuck on just immigration issue. There's more to Mesa than immigration.
José Cárdenas: One at a time. Let's talk about the other issues. You've mentioned education.
Carmen Guerrero: Education, he's the one who led the education cuts. And education has affected every -- every echelon of our community. And now he's on record coming out, saying if there's a surplus, he's not going to return money to education. Why should we re-elect him? So he can cut our schools and denigrate our curriculum? There's no music in our curriculum now. A child wants to be part of band or orchestra, they have to pay $500. I fault Mr. Pearce for that.
José Cárdenas: Any concerns about senator Pearce's position on education?
Rey Torres: On education, I think we need to reevaluate, performance of schools. Mesa schools are not exactly the highest performing either. And I pulled my god daughter out of Mesa schools and put her in Gilbert because of how underperforming they are to make sure she had the proper environment to learn in so there's difficulties in Mesa public schools that need to be addressed. Not just money. As we've seen throughout the country, it's not just money that's an issue, but the performance of those schools.
José Cárdenas: A lot of attention was paid to the Olivia Cortes candidacy. Is your group troubled by what seemed to be going on there?
Rey Torres: We had nothing to do with Olivia Cortes.
José Cárdenas: Was there manipulation by the Pearce campaign to deceive Hispanic voters?
Rey Torres: I can't speak for that. I've never met her and don't know her motivations to become involved in the process and I don't know because I've never discussed with the Pearce camp. This has not been an issue we've discussed and I can say with all honesty. I've never addressed this with Russell Pearce.
José Cárdenas: Carmen, you're quoted in trying to on tact Olivia Cortes.
Carmen Guerrero: I did contact her; she's one of our neighbors; and she didn't know anything about the campaign and didn't have a platform and obviously came out in the paper that Russell Pearce's nephews and nieces circulating her petition, so how can he not have anything to do with it? His brother, Lester, tried to get her petition signed so there's obvious connection between her and Russell's camp.
José Cárdenas: What about the level of support for senator Pearce in Mesa.
Carmen Guerrero: I really doubt that my community is supporting Mr. Pearce. I see a lot of Lewis people, signs outside, people are fed up with his management --
José Cárdenas: Wasn't there a campaign rally that produced disappointing numbers?
Carmen Guerrero: He had a rally for a capacity of 13,000 people and only 300 showed up. To me that shows my community is not supporting Mr. Pearce and I can say that with the money Mr. Lewis has raised and the signs in the yards, that I think we, Mesa, are ready for a new style of leadership.
José Cárdenas: Rey, last word where the election will end up.
Rey Torres: This election is more than just about this district or Mesa or Arizona. They're trying to engage in a tactic that allows them to try to recall --
José Cárdenas: Who is they?
Rey Torres: The powers that be outside of the district that are influencing the election, propping up people like Jerry Lewis, who's a Republican, and if it wasn't for S.B. 1070, would never come near or having anything to do with. It's about de-seating Russell Pearce and making sure that S.B. 1070 and all those that support it, are sent a message.
José Cárdenas: And on that note, we're going to have to end our show. That's our show tonight. For all of us at "Horizonte." I'm José Cárdenas. Have a good evening.
Carmen Guerrero:Mesa Resident, Activist, Arts and Education Advocate; Rey Torres:President, Arizona Latino Republican Association;