Outtake from our Hot Topics interview with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Russell Pearce-recall-architect Randy Parraz.
Randy Parraz, Citizens for a Better Arizona
What was the initial reaction when you announced that Citizens for a Better Arizona were pursuing a recall against Russell Pearce?
“For the most part, people said this was not possible, that we were going to embolden him when we lost, that recalls are not successful in Arizona. They thought it was a knee-jerk reaction, and I was trying to explain that this was a very well though-out strategy. Very few people had the imagination or the openness to even embrace it.”
When you were talking to people in the community and volunteers for the recall effort, what were some of the issues people said were most important to them?
“For the most part, a lot of the issues were education. A lot of folks were retired educators, they’d worked in Mesa for many years, and they were just tired of the lack of appreciation for public education, and Russell Pearce’s intent to undermine public education.”
How much interest do you think there will be in possibly trying to recall Governor Jan Brewer?
“If she continues to be extreme, and she doesn’t hear the voice of the voters, then she’s a help. Because the candidate or office holder, they’re the ones that actually fuel the recall. You can’t recall someone who most of the people are happy or content with. That’s one thing we can’t control. They set the tone. And Russell Pearce set a very extreme tone, which made our recall possible.”
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio
What’s your opinion of Russell Pearce?
“Russell, when you get to know him, he’s got a heart. He’s a family man. He’s got a lot of personal things he’s doing for his family. I won’t get into Russell’s personal stuff, but if you knew, you would realize the heart he has. And so I think he comes across sometimes like I do – very brazen and I could go on and on – but he does have a heart. He works hard for the people, regardless of if you agree with his policies or not.”
How do you feel about Russell Pearce losing his Senate seat to Jerry Lewis in the recall election?
“I’m not going to get into the political procedures called recall. It’s done, it’s over with, so we just have to set that aside. Whether I’m happy with it or not, that’s not the issue right now. You did mention Jerry Lewis. He’s just one vote. He doesn’t concern me. Or Russell Pearce. He can’t pass these bills all by himself. It has to be done by his colleagues, and the governor has to veto or approve it. It’s not a one-man show when you talk about Russell Pearce leaving. So I’m not too concerned, although Pearce was tough on immigration and did a great job. That matters too.”
The night of the recall, Pearce said something about how if being recalled was the price he paid for standing up for what he believed in and keeping his word, so be it. Would you consider Pearce a political martyr?
“The only way I can answer that – and I don’t want to get personal with myself, but you can see the correlation – is I stand up for what I believe in, and they want to target me. So we both seem to be standing up for what we believe in...and they seem to be targeting those people that are aggressive and stand up for what they believe in to enforce laws. So I would have to commend the senator for standing up for what he believes in.”