Russell Pearce's Nephew Talmage Pearce Appointed to Mesa's Human Relations Advisory Board

Here's an oddity: Talmage Pearce, nephew of recalled ex-state Senate President Russell Pearce and a stalwart defender of the Pearce clan, has been appointed to sit on the City of Mesa's Human Relations Advisory Board.

On April 1, the Mesa City Council unanimously approved Mayor Scott Smith's memo recommending Talmage, 27, to the board, which, as part of its mission, suggests "policies to eliminate discrimination and prejudice and to promote mutual understanding and harmony."

Since Talmage was unwavering in his support for Uncle Russell (a man whose bigotry has been well documented over the years) both during the 2011 recall and the 2012 Republican Primary for Legislative District 25, you can see why his appointment to the 11-member HRAB would be an eyebrow-raiser.

Talmage also was a great supporter of his other uncle, censured former Justice of the Peace Lester Pearce. And he is not afraid of expressing his own views on a variety of subjects, such as illegal immigration and gay marriage, both of which he opposes.

In 2011, when the HRAB discussed adopting a version of the Utah Compact, a set of principles urging "a humane approach" on immigration, Talmage spoke at a contentious HRAB meeting against it.

According to a KJZZ Fronteras report, Talmage said "sanctuary city policies, according to SB 1070, [are] illegal," adding that "even if the Utah Compact was a good idea, it would be a bad idea for Mesa."

Regarding gay marriage, his Facebook page features a spoof of the now famous marriage equality meme.

It states, "Marriage = Man + Woman."

A similar graphic says, "Promote diversity: One Man for Every Woman."

I called Talmage to ask him if his opinions of gays and the undocumented would interfere with his work on the HRAB, seeing that HRAB regularly supports and participates in Phoenix's Pride Parade and discusses ways for the city to be more inclusive.

"Absolutely not," he told me. "Advisory boards are supposed to have a very diverse range of opinions. That's the whole point . . . to be able to explore different opinions on different sides of the argument."

I asked him if it would be a problem for him working with the LGBT community, considering his untra-conservative views.

"No, why would it?" he responded.

I also wondered if his stance on the Utah Compact was the same as it was in 2011. He said he opposes the compact "as it is currently written" and believes "the laws should be enforced" when it comes to immigration.

Vice Mayor Alex Finter nominated Talmage to the HRAB after Talmage applied to be on a couple of city boards.

"I served on the Human Relations Advisory Board years ago," Finter told me. "It's a good place to kind of get started in city boards and commissions. And I thought it'd be a good fit."

Finter related that another council member "was kind of concerned" that Talmage's presence on the board might be "disruptive" or a "problem" for the HRAB.

"I personally don't think it will," stated Finter. "He definitely probably has differing opinions, and I'm fine with that . . . I didn't think it would cause such a stir. I don't think it will be as bad as some might think."

Councilman Dave Richins suggested that the position might "broaden [Talmage's] horizons," as Talmage would have to work with people who hold views opposite to his own.

Dennis Kavanagh, who represents Mesa's District 3, declined comment, save to say that he was not consulted about the recommendation prior to the vote held at the April 1 council meeting.

Interestingly, Talmage's horizons may be a bit broader than they would seem at first blush.

His application states that he "did a two-year mission for my church in Southern Chile."

In addition to his B.A. in political science from Arizona State University, Talmage claims that he speaks Arabic and has a certificate from ASU in Islamic Studies.

There may be a joke there, but I'm not touching it.

Currently, Talmage works as an insurance agent.

Which seems about right. Nothing against insurance agents, mind you.

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