the race came from outside his district, unlike Lewis, according to the Secretary of State’s office. He also got support from figures like former Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, both known for their hard-line approach to illegal immigration.
Lewis, 54, has lived in Mesa for almost 30 years. He is a certified public accountant, a school superintendent and a former bishop of the Mormon Church, who has the support of a strong grassroots base of longtime Mesa residents from District 18.
“What I realized is that many, many people in Mesa want a change as do I. We want to be portrayed in a proper light; we want to focus on issues that are important to us,” said Lewis in an interview with New America Media months before the election. “We want a fresh voice for Mesa.”
During a candidates' debate, Lewis and Pearce clashed mostly on the issue of immigration.
“I believe that we need to have reform to our immigration policy that protects families, that keeps families intact, that recognizes that we are a civil society and recognizes that all people are created equal,” he said. “We can’t take such a piecemeal approach to resolving issues like this. It requires everybody coming to the table.”
Pearce has promoted a strategy of “attrition by enforcement” – one that would make life in Arizona unbearable for undocumented immigrants. Early this year, Pearce was behind an effort to pass legislation aimed at changing the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which bestows citizenship on anyone born on American soil.
The bill, unsuccessful partly due to Republican opposition, was an attempt to give the state discretion to deny citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants.
The recall brought together a diverse group of people spearheaded by CBA.
“You have different organizations that have collaborated as a team. This is different because we are stronger,” said Petra Falcón, executive director of the group Promise Arizona in Action. The organization had more than 300 volunteers canvassing neighborhoods in Mesa trying to mobilize the vote of some 5,000 Latinos and get some of them to vote early.
Falcón said this is a growing movement of “families that don’t want to be separated and are getting tired of the hate.” PAZ in Action was born out of an earlier group that began encouraging voter registration soon
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