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American West Briefing Tour: Friday night in Phoenix filled with recall, initiative law and Mexican food
By Al Ortiz
PHOENIX, Arizona: What better way to begin the first post from the state of Arizona than to compliment the authentic Mexican food the briefing tour had a chance to wolf down. While sipping on margaritas and salted beer with lime, participants were visited by Martin Quezada, a Phoenix-based attorney who is involved in the Russell Pearce political recall effort.
Pearce, a highly controversial figure kicking up plenty of dirt in the state, according to Quezada, was subject to a petition circulation effort supported by the group Arizonans for Better Government. To force a recall election, recall organizers needed to submit 7,756 valid signatures on recall petitions by May 31, 2011. This is 25% of the 31,091 votes cast for his seat in the November 2, 2010 Arizona State Senate District 18 section.
Supporters submitted 18,315 signatures.
Quezada stated that it has been quite a long time since residents in Arizona made this much headway on a recall effort. The strong support of his removal from office, and the materialization of the effort, highlights the frustrations of the people of Arizona with Pearce, says Quezada.
Pearce has been under the political limelight recently, culminating in his sponsorship of Senate Bill 1070, the law that was signed on April 23, 2010 by Governor of Arizona Jan Brewer that made illegal immigration a crime in Arizona. It also mandated that state and local police question a person's immigration status if there were any suspicions that they were illegal immigrants.
On the other side of the argument is Citizens Who Oppose the Pearce Recall (who we did not speak with), who have commented in state reports: "We're focusing in making sure the voters know where the recall committee is coming from and who is behind it. Russell Pearce has been elected 16 times and there is no reason he won't be elected a 17th time."
According to the group's donation page: "National liberal groups are pouring thousands of dollars into the effort to remove Senator Russell Pearce from office. He needs your immediate financial support. Please donate as much as you can to support a true American Patriot, the author of SB 1070, and a leading voice to secure our borders."
Pearce has been quoted about the recall effort stating: "You take everything seriously, people know who these folks are, they've tried it before. They're simply open-border anarchists who have no respect for the rule of law, we'll deal with it."
Shifting focus to Quezada, this isn't the first citizen-initiated political effort he has been associated with. In 2006, he stated that he played a role in placing Proposition 202 on the ballot. The measure established a state minimum wage law and raised the minimum wage to $6.75 per hour beginning January 1, 2007. The state minimum wage, according to the initiative, would be increased each January 1 for changes in the cost of living. It passed 65.4 percent of voter approval.
In all, it was quite a first day in the state of Arizona. After all the tacos were consumed, and the confusion was cleared up about what chiles rellenos were, the tour group shook hands and parted ways with their guest. Today only promises to further magnify the heated political battle the state is currently enduring, as we meet with key figures in the state's direct democracy history.
- Current City: Phoenix
- Next City: Portland (September 25)
What else to look for today
- Tour of Phoenix: Meetings with Dr. Eric Novack, Joe Yuhas and Eric Ehst.
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