Things That Matter

Regina Romero Is Tucson, Arizona’s First-Ever Latina Mayor And Supporters Are Celebrating

Voters in Tucson made their voices heard on Tuesday night by electing Regina Romero, the city’s first female and first Latina mayor. The three-term former Tucson City Council member ran on a campaign platform centered around combating climate change, improving the city’s infrastructure and education system, as well as expanding opportunities for immigrant communities. 

Romero, 33,  who is Mexican-American, captured the historic victory by claiming nearly 56 percent of the vote, according to Tucson.com. She beat out opponents Ed Ackerley, an independent who received 40 percent of the vote, and Green Party candidate Mike Cease, who got 4 percent. Romero beat out two other Democrats in the party’s primary back in August.

“At a time when our national politics have been sown with division, Tucsonans remain united by our shared desire to promote a safe, just and sustainable city that provides economic opportunity for our families and future generations. This movement is open to everyone — whatever your background, whatever your party, whoever you voted for — let’s work together! We will always be one Tucson — somos uno,” Romero said at her campaign victory rally.

Romero’s victory is significant not only because of her background but because of political impact in the state of Arizona.

Credit: @LatinoVictoryUS / Twitter

The mayoral victory for Romero is a landmark moment for the typically left-leaning city of Tucson. While its population is near 44 percent Latino, the city has never elected a Latino mayor since Arizona became a U.S. state. Only once before 1854 had a Latino ever held the office.

Mayra Macías, the executive director at Latino Victory, a political action group aimed at increasing Latino voting power, said that the victory is a historic moment for all, especially women. 

“Councilwoman Regina Romero shattered one glass ceiling when she became the first Latina elected to the Tucson City Council, and now she’s broken yet another one by becoming Tucson’s first woman and first Latina mayor,” Macías said in a press release. “Her groundbreaking election is a testament of who she is as a leader and all the incredible things she’ll accomplish for the people of Tucson as their new mayor.”

There is a number of key issues that Romero will be taking on as mayor including climate change and immigration. 

One of the first issues that Romero will take on as mayor is focusing on plans that the city can implement to respond to climate change.

If we want to move our economy to a progressive place, if we want to continue investing in our infrastructure, if we want to continue creating high wage, long term jobs we have to tackle climate resiliency in our city,” Romero told Tucson.com. “We are the second city that is heating up the most right after Phoenix and so we’ve got to work immediately on it.”

She will also be taking on a more controversial issue at hand in immigration. Voters in Tucson voted against a proposed sanctuary city initiative that Romero opposed as well. Instead, she plans to work on repeal the controversial state law of SB 1070 that allows police to determine the immigration status of any individual that they stop or arrest. Romero has long advocated for immigrant rights and says that the real issue at hand isn’t the title of sanctuary city but the bill. 

“The root of the problem is SB 1070, and we’ve got to demand in a unified front with a unified voice that Governor [Doug] Ducey and the state Legislature repeal SB 1070,” Romero said.

Democratic presidential candidates chimed in on the victory throughout the day relaying the message of the importance of representation. 

Credit: @JulianCastro / Twitter

Democratic presidential hopefuls Julián Casto, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders took to Twitter to congratulate the historic victory. Romero joins a wave of Latino firsts that have come in the last year when it comes to taking office.

“We need more Latinas to run, and win!” Castro, the lone Latino Democratic candidate, wrote on Twitter.

“Congratulations to @TucsonRomero, the first Latina mayor of Tucson, on her historic win last night—and to @LUCHA_AZ and the other grassroots community activists that fought hard for this progressive victory.” Sanders wrote. 

The mother of two children, who was born in Somerton, Arizona and graduated from the nearby University of Arizona, will now be the only Latina mayor in the country’s 50 most populous cities.

READ: Over 400 Oklahoma Inmates Were Released In Largest Commutation In History And Their Stories Are Powerful

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An Arizona Hiker Fell 70 Feet Into A Canyon And Was Stuck There For 24 Hours— ‘I’m Lucky’

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An Arizona Hiker Fell 70 Feet Into A Canyon And Was Stuck There For 24 Hours— ‘I’m Lucky’

Sean Gallup / Getty

In 2003, the story of Aron Ralston a hiker who became trapped by a boulder in an isolated canyon located in Utah for 127 hours went viral. Well, at least whatever form of viral was popular in the early aughts. Anyway, the story about his experience was ultimately reimagined as a biographical film starring James Franco and directed by Danny Boyle.

Now, a similar story about an Arizona man trapped in a canyon for 24 hours is making the rounds. And we can’t help but wonder if it will also get the Hollywood treatment. Mostly because his story of survival is pretty incredible.

Jacob Velarde was hiking on a solo trail last Tuesday when he fell almost 70 feet into a canyon.

Velarde had been hiking along the Indian Maiden Falls trail when the area he was hiking on fell apart beneath him. The 24-year-old plummeted seven stories below the surface and found himself stranded in the canyon with a broken nose, broken ankle, multiple gashes, as well as severe bruises. He also sustained a skull fracture and orbital fracture.

Velarde laid in the canyon by himself for all of those hours until a family that was also on a hike discovered and rescued him.

Speaking about the incident Velarde told People, “Right now, I just feel blessed. In all honesty, I shouldn’t have been able to survive a fall like that.”

Speaking to NBC affiliate KPNX, Velarde explained that he is an experienced hiker who goes on hikes about once a month. Initially, Velarde had set out to go on a 12-mile overnight trip with his brother but after seeing the rocky and steep terrain of the hike within the first mile of the trail his brother backed out.

Determined to make the hike, Velarde left his brother with the car keys and decided to meet up with him the next day.

The next morning, at around 8 a.m., Velarde said he made a wrong turn in an area of the trail that ultimately caved in when he walked across it.

Warning: graphic photo of meFor those of you that dont know, I had a pretty serious accident on my hike Tuesday, I am…

Posted by Jacob Velarde on Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Speaking with People, Velarde said that didn’t remember much when the fall occurred because “it just happened so fast.”

“Doctors said I’m lucky that I’m not more injured,” Velarde wrote in a post to his Facebook page. Velarde explained that his ability to survive was likely all thanks to his past experiences as a Boy Scout and a set of EMT lessons he took in college.

“It was a bit scary and painful, but it was all about keeping my injuries from getting worse and staying hydrated,” he told People. “With the knowledge, I had from both of those, I knew that I’d be able to take care of myself. I figured that if I was able to survive the fall, I knew I’d survive the rest.”

Velarde underlined that he felt confident that he would be found because his brother was expecting him. “My brother knew where I was and was expecting me the next day by noon,” he said. “He would have called for help to save me.”

Fortunately, Velarde didn’t have to wait for his brother. The family of hikers found him the next morning. “I honestly thought I was imagining them, but I was extremely excited,” Velarde explained. Soon after the family called for help, first responders airlifted Velarde to a nearby hospital.

“I just want to make sure everyone knows the risks and that it’s better just playing it safe on a hike,” Velarde explained of his reason for sharing his story. “I probably won’t be doing any solo hikes soon, but eventually, I will be doing it again. I’ll just be more prepared and safe [next time.]”

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Sheriff Joe Has Lost His Race To Get Back His Old Job But How Was He Able To Run At All?

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Sheriff Joe Has Lost His Race To Get Back His Old Job But How Was He Able To Run At All?

Ross D Franklin / Getty Images

America’s ‘toughest sheriff’ and blatantly racist law enforcement officials has been defeated in race for sheriff. But what’s shocking is just how close the race was for a man who was arrested and convicted of racially profiling Latinos only to then be pardoned by Trump.

And it appeared that Arpaio had zero remorse for his controversial and damaging policies. In the run up to the election, he vowed to continue his controversial policing tactics with policies that included housing county jail inmates in tents and regular immigration sweeps. 

Running to get back his old job, Joe Arpaio has lost his primary bid for Maricopa County Sheriff.

America’s self-confessed “toughest sheriff”, Joe Arpaio, was narrowly defeated in his bid to win back the sheriff’s post in metro Phoenix that he held for 24 years before being voted out in 2016 amid voter frustrations over his taxpayer-funded legal bills, blatant racism, his penchant for self-promotion and a defiant streak that led to his now-pardoned criminal conviction.

In the latest count from Tuesday’s primary, announced on Friday, Arpaio lost the primary to his long time aide, Jerry Sheridan. Mr. Sheridan had secured about 37 percent of the vote in a three-way race, compared to Mr. Arpaio’s 36 percent — a difference of 6,280 votes out of more than 420,000 cast, with only 2,385 ballots remaining to be counted.

For Mr. Arpaio, 88, the loss on Tuesday was his third electoral defeat in four years. After losing his 2016 re-election bid, he suffered a resounding loss in a three-way Republican primary for a U.S. Senate seat in 2018.

Mr. Arpaio said in an interview on Friday that this year’s race was his last run for public office, adding that his age and record as sheriff were working against him.

“They were tired of me and tired of my office,” he said.

So who is the Republican who won the primary?

Voters instead backed Jerry Sheridan, Arpaio’s former chief deputy, who promised to revive many of the sheriff’s racist and anti-immigrant policies but without the showmanship.

Mr. Sheridan was found guilty of civil contempt of court and a judge referred him for criminal contempt charges, though prosecutors later said the statute of limitations prevented them from bringing charges. A related complaint with the state board that certifies police officers languished until Mr. Sheridan’s certification expired this year.

In November’s general election, Sheridan will face current Sheriff Paul Penzone, the Democrat who beat Arpaio four years ago. And most political observers say Penzone is the favorite in the general election.

His campaign put out a statement after Arpaio’s defeat.

“With the primary race for Maricopa County Sheriff officially concluding tonight, Arizona Democrats reaffirm our commitment to protecting the Latino community from the likes of Joe Arpaio’s former number two, Jerry Sheridan, who was found in contempt of court and will double down on Arpaio’s disturbing legacy that embarrassed our state and cost taxpayers millions of dollars,” said Matt Grodsky, spokesman for the Arizona Democratic Party. 

“Arizona’s largest county is better off under the leadership of Sheriff Penzone, a leader with a legacy of accountability, committed to building community trust,” he added. “We know voters will stick with him this November.”

Arpaio had long harassed Latinos and made life a living hell in Arizona for migrant communities.

Credit: Ross D Franklin / Getty Images

Arpaio rose to national prominence thanks to his blatantly racist, anti-immigrant, and illegal policies as ‘America’s toughest sheriff.’ During his tenure, he housed inmates in tents, forced them to wear pink underwear and brought back chain gangs. His department conducted sweeps of undocumented immigrants in Hispanic communities and detained Spanish-speakers under suspicion of being in the country irregularly. 

Then in 2011, Arpaio was convicted of deliberately violating an injunction halting his practice of detaining migrants who are not suspected of having committed a state crime. Only federal officers have jurisdiction over immigration. He faced six months in jail but was benefited by President Donald Trump’s first presidential pardon.

This year’s primary by Arpaio exploited racial tensions and pushed a tough-on-crime message amid a nationwide movement to stop police abuses against people of color. His rebuke from Republican voters could be an ominous sign for the president, who is trailing Biden in the polls in Arizona.

Arpaio is a close ally of Trump’s and was one of his first supporters in 2015, and his fall from grace mirrors the struggle that the president faces among suburban Republican voters in Arizona, a traditionally conservative state that is seen as up for grabs in this year’s presidential election.

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