More than 100 members of Adios Arpaio, the union-funded movement of Latino high-school students looking to drive Sheriff Joe Arpaio from power, rallied on the lawn of the state House in Phoenix on Thursday afternoon to announce that they're closing in on surpassing their goal of registering 30,000 new county voters.
See also: -How Undocumented Immigrants Helped Change Phoenix's City Council Race -Joe Arpaio's Foes in Adios Arpaio Endorse Paul Penzone for Sheriff -Joe Arpaio's Doom: "Adios Arpaio" Claims 20,000 Anti-Joe Voters Added to the Rolls (w/Update) -Paul Penzone Can Beat Arpaio, If He Turns Up the Heat
So far, Adios Arpaio has registered 27,810 individuals, nearly every one of them ready to cast a ballot against Arpaio. The group, which is a combination of the efforts of Campaign For Arizona's Future and Promise Arizona in Action, has until midnight on Tuesday, October 9, to submit registration forms.
Nowakowski likened the work of Adios Arpaio to that of a massive, state-wide voter registration campaign led by human rights activist Cesar Chavez in the 1970s. That drive was part of an effort to recall infamous, anti-Latino Arizona Governor "One-Eyed Jack" Williams.
Though the recall of Williams was unsuccessful, mainly due to the political shenanigans of his allies, more than 150,000 new voters were added to the rolls. And as a result, in 1974, Arizona's first and only Mexican-American Governor was elected, Raul Castro.
"This reminds me of back in the '70s when Cesar Chavez came to Arizona, and said ya basta, enough is enough of all the abuses that are going on in the fields," Nowakowski said in a spirited address that got the teens pumped up.
"The farmworkers didn't even have a place to go to the restroom...to drink water...they didn't get paid a decent salary," he added.
"It was a movement that was created here in Arizona, a movement that got young people engaged to go out there and register all kinds of individuals. And today here in the city of Phoenix, we have the same type of movement, a movement of young people."
Nowakowski observed that Chavez, "passed away 20 years ago," but that he lives on in the teenagers at the rally.
"You asked who Cesar Chavez is," Nowakowski stated, turning to a girl next to him. "What's your name?"
"Cecilia," she answered.
"Cecilia is Cesar Chavez," said Nowakowski.
He did the same with another girl named Rosa.
"Rosa is Cesar Chavez," declared the councilman. "All of these young people are Cesar Chavez today."
Valenzuela then took the lectern, pointing out that many of the same students in Adios Arpaio helped energize his campaign, electing the former firefighter to District 5's council seat in 2011.
"Thanks to the people behind me," said Valenzuela, "I'm a Phoenix City Councilman."
Valenzuela's election and Adios Arpaio's current registration drive are part of the demographic and political shift described in my colleague Monica Alonzo's January feature, "How Undocumented Immigrants Helped Change Phoenix's City Council Race."
The new councilman made it plain that the Latino community was looking far beyond the November 6 election by registering new voters.
"That kind of empowerment will last more than anyone's four year term," he told the teens.
Some of those present were so-called DREAM Act students, while others, like David, a senior at Chandler High School, have undocumented family members. Toward the end of the rally, he spoke of how his father was deported when he was 13, and how the suffering his family endured spurs him on to register as many people as possible.
"I push myself every day," he said, adding, "We're going to keep pushing till Tuesday...November 6 is just the beginning...Arpaio is just the bottom of the food chain, and we have other things to deal with."
Adios Arpaio endorsed Democrat Paul Penzone for sheriff last week. The group indicated in its press release for the Thursday event that it would be educating new voters about Republican-turned-Independent candidate Mike Stauffer, and how he's a stooge for Arpaio.
Which means that those new voters registered by Adios Arpaio will be voting for Penzone, and not for wannabe-spoiler Stauffer.
Because a vote for the dimwitted Oswalt Patton lookalike who has no money, no campaign and nearly no supporters is a vote for Joe Arpaio.