Councilwoman Joyce Clark is making some twisted comments about Latinos in her campaign literature as she seeks re-election to the Glendale City Council.
In her campaign fliers, Clark criticizes fellow Glendale Councilwoman Norma Alvarez because she "has endorsed and is solely supporting Latino candidates for mayor and council."
Why is it so offensive to Clark that the candidates who Alvarez believes will do the best job for the city happen to be Latino?
Crazy thing is, Clark isn't even running against Alvarez.
In September, when Alvarez questioned a comment Clark made during a City Council meeting, Clark shot back: "I'm sorry you can't understand English or what I said."
The Republic reported that Clark's comment "drew gasps from the audience in attendance."
Clark used to be a breath of fresh air on the Glendale council, always poised to ask tough questions her colleagues often chose to ignore. She didn't care that she clashed with Mayor Elaine Scruggs, who has had a tight grip on the reins of city business since the early 1990s.
Scruggs is retiring this year, and given how Clark has been handling the pressure of her re-election bid against newcomer Sam Chavira, a Phoenix firefighter who, (gasp!) happens to be Latino, perhaps it is also time for the longtime councilwoman to hang it up.
Isn't two decades long enough?
It isn't just her comment to Alvarez that raises eyebrows. In a campaign mailer, Clark asks: "Is there is hidden agenda to get a Latino majority on Glendale City Council? Could it be that instead of adopting goals that are good for all Glendale residents their goals are to benefit just one group?"
A hidden agenda? Latinos trying to get a majority on the council? Is that some evil conspiracy? Is maintaining an Anglo majority on the Glendale City Council more preferable?
When we reached Clark at her Glendale home, she didn't even try to explain.
She tells New Times she's not going to comment and makes a point of repeatedly telling us that two of her grandchildren are "half-Hispanic" and "there isn't a racist bone in her body."
"It's all political," she says.
Then why, we ask, did she even stick the word "Latino" in her flier, and question whether Latinos, if elected, are capable of serving the needs of the entire community.
She doesn't answer, repeating only that she isn't racist.
The truth is, there is no hidden agenda. The Latino community has been and continues to work hard to mobilize neighbors, friends, and family members out to the polls so their voices can be represented on school and county boards, city councils, and among state and federal lawmakers.
From Brown Wave, an article we published in January.
Earl de Berge, a longtime political pollster in the Valley, says there are several forces driving greater participation among Latinos.
"Young activists are willing to get out in the streets and do the work, and, frankly, some of the old guard doesn't do that anymore," he says. "Part of it is pure anger. There is a lot of anger in the Latino community about the political system and how they are being treated like second-rate citizens. They're sick and tired of it."
The Latino vote is going to be pivotal in the presidential election. "I think that it could be very important in 2012 and continue to grow in importance with the population," Gary Segura, a principal in the polling firm Latino Decisions, tells New Times.
Comments like Clark's demonstrate exactly why Latinos across the Arizona -- and across the nation -- are pushing for better representation.
Glendale is in dire straights -- fighting to hang on to the Phoenix Coyotes hockey team, raising taxes on the backs of residents to keep financially afloat, and engaging in an endless and losing battle with the Tohono O'odham Nation to block their proposed nearby resort-style casino.
And Clark is spending time printing up fliers that attack a movement to politically engage Latinos?
Back in her day, Clark was a tough elected official with reasonable views. From what we see, it's sad that those days may be behind her.
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