Stay out of the race for retiring Congressman Ed Pastor's seat in Congressional District 7 -- that's the message that more than a dozen Latino community leaders and business owners sent today to Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema.
A flurry of hopefuls announced their interest or intention to run for the CD7 seat after Pastor announced that he will retire after his current term. Sinema was among those mulling the possibility.
While the letter praises the congresswoman, who currently represents Congressional District 9, calling her a "rising star in Arizona politics and a person for whom there is great admiration," it reminds her that she is not a Latina and emphasizes the importance of having a Latino or Latina represent the district.
Congresswoman Sinema's office in Washington confirms it's aware of the letter. And we're waiting on a call back from her spokesperson for comment on the letter.
From the letter:
As your friends, we feel compelled to directly tell you that the recent political rumblings and rumors having you switching congressional seats to run in Congressman Pastor's seat, troubles us and the Latino community in general, greatly.
Latinos represent 30 percent of the population in Maricopa County. In some areas within congressional district 7, the percentage of Latinos is much higher. Currently, there are several Latinos and Latinas who have declared themselves candidates to replace Congressman Pastor.
The candidates' names are immaterial for this dialogue. What is important is that they are Latinas and Latinos.
Political consultant Mario E. Diaz, Edmundo Hidalgo, president of Chicanos Por La Causa, longtime community leaders Lydia Guzman and Socorro Hernandez Bernasconi, and Debbie Lopez, a small business owner, are among those who signed the letter to Sinema.
This isn't the first time Sinema was reminded that she wasn't actually a Latina.
In 2012, she was listed in a directory published by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO).
Later, once the issue was brought to their attention by New Times, the association issued this statement:
"We have recently become aware that Former Arizona State Senator Kyrsten Sinema was mistakenly included in our 2011 Directory of Latino Elected Officials. Senator Sinema has informed us that she is not Latina and we will work to ensure this is reflected in future editions of the directory and other informational materials."
Got a tip? Send it to: Monica Alonzo.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.