City Hall

Maricopa County Dems Yank Support For Phoenix Councilman Nowakowski

The Maricopa County Democratic Party on Saturday passed a resolution to withdraw support for embattled Phoenix city council member Michael Nowakowski.

The resolution refers to comments made by Nowakowski in 2016 opposing same sex marriage and allowing transgender people to use the restroom of their choice.

"I never thought I would see the day that men and men would be married,” Nowakowski said at the time. "Or that people are allowed to go into the same bathroom as my daughter. This world is changing, and it’s time for us to take the leadership and change it back to the way it should be.”

At the time, video of Nowakowski’s comments sparked calls from the LGBT community for his resignation. Those remarks continue to haunt him.

The resolution passed by the Maricopa County Democrats on Saturday officially declares that the party will not support Nowakowski in future campaigns, and allows the party to endorse primary opponents for his seat. The party typically does not get involved in primary elections.

"Mr. Nowakowski does not exemplify the character, ethics, nor principles that are expected of the Democratic Party and its members,” the resolution states.

The timing of the resolution is conspicuous. Although Nowakowski is not up for re-election until 2020, the council member currently faces a campaign to remove him from office.

Urban Phoenix PAC — a group that advocates for more public transit and denser housing — last week submitted 2,361 signatures supporting a recall of Nowakowski, surpassing the required 1,337 signatures.

If city officials determine that the PAC gathered enough valid signatures, Nowakowski will be given a chance to resign. If he refuses, a recall election would be held in August.

Lead by local activist Sean Sweat, Urban Phoenix PAC has criticized Nowakowski for his anti-LGBT remarks, as well as a controversial 2015 land deal that involved his private employer.

Sweat was among the Democrats who submitted the resolution, along with precinct committeepersons Lupe Conchas, Joseph Czajkowski, Dawn Gilpin, Jade Richardson, LaDawn Stuben, and Brianna Westbrook.

Though Phoenix city council seats are nonpartisan positions, Nowakowski is a Democrat, first elected to the position in 2007.

The denunciation of Nowakowski passed unanimously through an oral vote, according to Miguel Medrano, the executive director of the Maricopa County Democratic Party.

Medrano said such resolutions are rare.

The resolution also criticizes Nowakowski for endorsing Rodney Glassman, a Republican who ran a failed campaign for Arizona Corporation Commission in the November general election.

Nowakowski could not be reached for comment.
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Steven Hsieh was a staff writer for Phoenix New Times from August 2018 to April 2020.
Contact: Steven Hsieh