"I have confidence in him," Penzone says about Robinson. "He's committed to our [city]."

This is to say that Robinson doesn't have to cower to the black political heavies in Stewart's camp, further evidenced by his campaign team of established, energetic, and experienced community organizers.

Robinson has true believers surrounding him — Latino students and seasoned activists who want desperately to change the face of Arizona politics.

Lawrence Robinson is part of the new guard in Phoenix politics.
www.phoenixlaw.edu
Lawrence Robinson is part of the new guard in Phoenix politics.
Pastor Warren Stewart (center) at a press conference surrounded by old-guard politicos: (seated on his right) Danny Ortega, Peggy Neely, Mary Rose Wilcox and (on his left) Phil Gordon and Michael Johnson.
social eye media
Pastor Warren Stewart (center) at a press conference surrounded by old-guard politicos: (seated on his right) Danny Ortega, Peggy Neely, Mary Rose Wilcox and (on his left) Phil Gordon and Michael Johnson.

An advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights, Robinson and his supporters cross racial lines. Stewart, on the other hand, supports anti-discrimination measures to protect the LGBT community but, as a minister, opposes gay marriage.

But can Robinson win in District 8? Standing in his way and in the way of African-American hopes of retaining a black voice on the council is Widland Gallego, a union-backed white contender married to two-term state Representative Ruben Gallego.

(If no candidate wins a majority in the August 27 election, there will be a runoff between the top two vote-getters on November 5.)

Widland Gallego is supported by Michael Nowakowski, one of two Latino City Council members. Her husband ran Nowakowski's 2007 campaign and served as his chief of staff.

As for fundraising, her campaign has collected more than $70,000 since she entered the race, and she has the endorsements of several state lawmakers who serve with her husband. She's backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 99, and the Maricopa Area Labor Federation, the local arm of the AFL-CIO.

The unions give her an advantage because of the sheer number of campaign volunteers they can put on the streets.

She has taken a leave of absence from her job at Salt River Project, where she worked on economic-development projects and promoted renewable energy, such as solar panels, to corporations.

"Someone with my background can look at ways to bring new businesses into the community, to transform vacant lots into economic opportunities by filling them with technology or healthcare jobs," she says, stressing that the proximity of Sky Harbor International Airport to the district should be an incentive to potential job-creating businesses.

Widland Gallego dismisses her critics' claims that a white woman has no real understanding of average citizens' needs in District 8.

"There is no black or brown way to fix a pothole," she scoffs.

To which the Reverend Jarrett Maupin Jr., an Al Sharpton protégé and son of Maupin Sr., spits back: "Well, you're damn right there isn't a black or brown way to fix a pothole, but you have to be black or brown to know where our potholes are, because for 46 years, white folk haven't been able to find our potholes, our dirty alleys, our dilapidated public housing."


For as long as a significant number of them have been in Arizona, African-Americans have waged bitter battles against racial injustice, suffered the inequitable policies of disgraced politicians such as former Governor Evan Mecham, and fought for a political voice.

The passion that fueled the civil rights movements of the 1950s and '60s no longer rages. And for all their struggles, African-Americans have just a few elected officials in Arizona, including Councilman Johnson, state Senator Leah Landrum Taylor, and Tempe Councilman Corey Woods.

Pastor Stewart concedes that his generation hasn't done as good a job mentoring new leaders as did his predecessors, but he claims that he's ready to start.

Opal Ellis, a civil rights activist and teacher, was organizing student sit-ins in the 1940s at downtown businesses that refused to serve blacks. In those days, protests against segregation in public schools and public accommodations were starting to intensify, wrote Arizona State University history professor Matthew Whitaker in his book Race Work.

Black business leaders, including wealthy Phoenicians Lincoln Ragsdale and his wife, Eleanor, used their money and influence in a nonviolent movement for equality. Fellow activists lobbied for the Phoenix City Council to adopt laws to end segregation and discrimination.

"The city council finally relented on July 16, 1964, enacting a public-accommodation ordinance," Whitaker wrote. "The law made it illegal to 'discriminate in places of public accommodation against any persons because of race, creed, national origin, or ancestry.'"

In 1965, after years of protests by blacks and browns — plus forged alliances with sympathetic white leaders — an African-American made history when he was elected to the Phoenix City Council.

He was Morrison Warren, a black teacher who, Whitaker said, "broke the stranglehold affluent white men had on the council."

Warren paved the way for the next generation of city leaders, including Goode, Williams, and Johnson. Democrat Art Hamilton was elected to the Arizona House of Representatives in 1972, when he was just 25 years old, and he served as House minority leader eight years later.

Warren Stewart, a transplant from New York, came to Arizona in 1977. He led an expansion of his church's campus, its social-service programs, and its outreach to the homeless, ailing families, and teen mothers.

In the 1980s, he joined his political and pastoral colleagues who, since 1972, had called for a day to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.'s accomplishments.

It was in '72 that late Senator Cloves Campbell Sr. introduced a resolution for a statewide holiday, but it never made it out of a Senate committee. Three years later, a Latino senator introduced another failed MLK measure. And so it went: Lawmakers shot down similar bills in '76, '81, '82, and '86.

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27 comments
kanderssohn
kanderssohn

Very confusing article as far as keeping names straight. Page 10 introduces us to Lawrence Robinson as the adopted grandson of Phoenix's first black judge and recently elected member of the Roosevelt Elementary School District governing board. Then on page 12 Lawrence Robonson is identified as a gay professor at the Phoenix School of Law. A photo caption on the same page refers to Pastor Stewart Robinson as Councilman Michael Johnson's hand-picked successor. Then on page 22 at the top center of the page in orange font there is a reference to Pastor Warren Robinson. So we have a Lawrence Robinson, a Warren Stewart, a Stewart Robinson and a Warren Robinson. Nice proof-reading job by someone... 

gailross5555
gailross5555

The old divide and conquer along racial lines.  Come on people stand together as one, open your heart.  Hispanics have obviously been targeted but no one knows that better than blacks about targeting either.   Just as Martin Luther King said so eloquently  An Injustice for one is an injustice for all!!!  There is strength in unity of all people forget race --we are the 99% until they divide along racial lines then they stay on top with all their injustice and fraud.  Come together and peacefully non comply.  Stop the me me me and start the us us us us!!

aschmidt01
aschmidt01

Does a church loose its tax status, by endorsing a political movement?

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

I've been in numerous community meetings in South Phoenix - as a person of limited pigment, I am quite offended by the me, me, me I hear.  I've stopped going until I start to hear some US US US!  We're all in the same boat - building divides along skin color lines only helps the corporate masters which seek to exploit us in South Phoenix.  I have noticed there is not one shred of difference between the character of the individual because of skin color or language.  We need to stop this crap and start working together or we are going to get screwed individually.  For god's sake - we got a multi-racial President people - Let's Work Together!

taysearch
taysearch

I agree with Rev. Jarrett Maupin, II that the older generation of African Americans have not invested in youth leadership.  Very few people have put together programs for leadership development.  I believe we have depended on our schools too much and the school programs have not helped to develop young Black leaders.  That must come from the community.  It is not just pastors and elected officials who must lead.  We must all make ourselves responsible for developing young Black leadership.  This article has certainly been a wake up call to me.  I am supporting Pastor Warren Stewart, Sr.  I believe he is the best person to represent District 8.  I will also be supporting Black Youth Leadership Development.

patrickbrennan
patrickbrennan

As a resident of District 8, I found this article offensive on many fronts. I'd go into further detail here, but why be redundant? You can see what folks are saying, including me, on our south Phoenix FB page: https://www.facebook.com/SoPhxAZ

acg070776
acg070776

As a resident of District 8 for the past 4 years, yes, I've seen some improvements in development in the area, particularly in the 24th Street and Baseline intersection.  I'm not sure how much, if at all, Michael Johnson was involved in bringing that development to the area, but it's a good thing.  However, my biggest gripe with living in South Phoenix is the piss poor police response time.  I, as well as a few of my friends who live in the area, have either had our homes broken into or had attempted break-ins, and it consistently takes the police at least 30-45 minutes to respond to the calls from our alarm companies.  That is just not acceptable.  I haven't seen Michael Johnson do anything to address this, nor have I seen the problem get better.  I do, however, notice that Michael Johnson is partying every weekend either at the Legion or Michael's Cafe, so maybe that's more important to him at this point.  Although I appreciate Michael Johnson and the "old guard" for their efforts up to this point, it's time for them to step aside. 

phxsoul
phxsoul

Blacks are also losing power in Arizona because our "old guard" never thought to establish a pipeline for the younger generation to get interested in politics and then take over their seats. I respect our previous and current Black leaders but they have all dropped the ball in this regard.

leewah
leewah

1) Corey Woods, not Cory Woods.

2) Art Hamilton was elected at 24, not 25.  Because the age of eligibility to serve in the House was 25, he had to watch the first few weeks of his first session from the spectators' gallery before he could be sworn in.

3) One possible means of addressing the dilution of black representation on the council is to expand the number of council seats.  When the Phoenix city council was changed from at-large to an eight-district system in the early 1980s, the population of Phoenix was about 800,000; that's about 100,000 people per district.  As the population has almost doubled to about 1,500,000, the number of districts has remained eight.  There are now approximately 187,500 people per district, which is more people than the entire population of next-door Tempe.  Proponents of keeping city government close to the people, including leaders in the black community, can make a cogent argument for expanding the council to 16 seats.

don.dodondo
don.dodondo

Blacks are losing their political power all over the country because of the DNCs obsession on "Latino Issues".  First the Latinos were only taking their jobs, but now they are taking their political power as well.  Oh well, this is what they get for blindly voting democrat in every election.

Phoenician
Phoenician

@kanderssohn I know all those names and I can assure you that there aren't any proof reading mistakes. The #Phx8 race is really, really, complicated.

dogbiter
dogbiter

You're a boring detail, and obviously feel burned by this.

sarum
sarum

@ExpertShot Thank you.  Separate but equal did not work then and it will not work now in the reverse either.  Deliciously empowering as it is, it also serves as a box and makes those who holds those values very predictable and easily manipulated.  Admittledy it is a wondrous box.  Big enough to spend a lifetime lost in, but box - cage is what it is.

aschmidt01
aschmidt01

The me, them, comes directly from the Democrat party. Divide and hate, it comes from the head, down.

sarum
sarum

@taysearch Perhaps true but wherever you look even outside the black community you will find this same failure to bring up young leaders.  There is something more afoot here.  The educational points above combined with our mass marketed popular culture as well as a lazy mindedness  brought on by physical poisoning that most want to consider tin foil but is very real and has very real effects on brain function.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

@taysearch They have to get past the "Pull up your damn britches, Son" part of the conversation and that usually is a buzz  kill right there!

Dogbiter
Dogbiter

Offensive, why? The article was right on! The old guard is attempting to squeeze out anybody who doesn't kowtow to it. And what is this white woman doing posing as a Latino to get votes. We're on to you, lady! We all know what you're about Brennan. Mad because Alonzo didn't call you. Wake up and smell the coffee!

jimmie.munoz
jimmie.munoz

@acg070776I'm a supporter of Lawrence Robinson. I think you'd really like to hear about his stance on public safety issues.  Come meet Lawrence and talk to him in person this Saturday at 10am at 6645 S. Central Ave., Phx. 

patrickbrennan
patrickbrennan

@leewah I agree 100% that the council should be expanded vastly. 16 seats would be in keeping with historical ratios, but I'd settle for 12 at this point. Look at D6 as a visually obvious example of a district that makes very little sense. The others are also spread thin across diverse landscapes and communities. Our downtown, for instance -- an area that matters to us all -- hangs in the balance of a few council members who also must work on very different issues elsewhere. 

shirtless
shirtless

@don.dodondo A better explanation is that intelligent Democrats (yes, there are a few) and the rest of society are finally beginning to realize that blacks are generally a hopeless cause.  Despite decades of "affirmative action" and other special preferences, they are no further along than they were in the days of segregation, and in many cases, they are much worse off.  According to the Statistical Abstract of the United States, 69% of blacks are born out of wedlock (compared to 26% for whites), and while black women account for only 17% of live births, 36% of all abortions are performed on black women.  According to the Center for Disease Control, 44% of the people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS are black.  According to the FBI, blacks, who are only 12% of the population, commit 38% of the homicides.  If there were no blacks in our population, our murder by handgun rate would fall to that of Finland, and gun control would be a moot issue.  One reason we do not notice the black crime problem is that much of it is black-on-black.  Black-on-white is next in prevalence.  White-on-black is relatively rare, so much so, that when it happens, it makes front-page headlines.

Blacks have ruined once-great cities, such as Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Memphis, Oakland, and others.  A group that has caused so many problems does not deserve, and should not expect, "political power."  Indeed, our society needs to wake up and get the black crime problem under control before it destroys our society.

sarum
sarum

IOW, many leaders can say that they found nobody coming along under them that was worthy of the time investment to train in leadership.  The same forces that are breaking apart families are also dividing communities.  But I also think that in some cases, the financial reward of retaining leadership is too enticing and then again, many of the choices these days are no-win situations.

taysearch
taysearch

@ExpertShot @taysearch I'm not exactly sure what you mean, but what I mean is give a group of youth a project to carry out.  Teach them Robert's Rules of Order, how to write an agenda, take minutes, and carry out an assessment of the project.  That's just an example of what can be done.

What is it that you mean?

patrickbrennan
patrickbrennan

@Dogbiter Please tell me what I'm all about... and who you are. Alonzo didn't call me because I'm not a part of this story. Please feel free to take the dialog to our FB page, using your true identity. I'd love to discuss the issues with you or anyone else, but let's please get past the labels first.

taysearch
taysearch

@bgray59 @taysearch Fortunately for me, I began to be taught civics lessons in the third grade, just how to decide whether to have a classroom Halloween and Christmas party or a Christmas party and a Valentine's party.  The problem in our community is that the civics lesson did not carry over to adulthood for many of us.  It's something we learned in school and we left it there when we graduated.  Of course, the fact that it is not even taught today is even worse, but we control institutions where we can teach civics lessons that help our community.  Or we can demand that the schools we pay for teach civics again.

bgray59
bgray59

@taysearch That was covered in my High School freshman civics class.  But that is no longer taught in public school.

 
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