Adrian Fontes, the Democratic Candidate for Arizona Secretary of State, addressed a cheering crowd of 150 people at a rally organized by LD18 Democrats on October 1, 2022, in Tucson.
Fontes held up the cover of Time magazine for October 10-17, 2022, which featured him and other courageous Secretary of State candidates who are inside the fight to save American Elections from extreme, dangerous Republicans.
Following are highlights of his inspiring remarks.
“There are forces out there who want to upset elections. They want to pull that golden thread right out and decide for themselves who your leaders are. That’s authoritarianism. They want to decide for themselves who wins elections. They want to decide for themselves and not include you. And that neo-fascism that has arisen in the United States of America needs to be rendered asunder, and we are the ones who are going to make sure that all of that goes through.”
Fontes said ten words should guide Democrats:
“If it is to be, it is up to me.”
“But this isn’t that kind of a question. This is something far more sinister. This is the disintegration of civil society itself. The disbelief that they would inject into each of us against the other. Think about what election fraud, voter fraud, “stop the steal” really means. Think about who that attack is against.
“When people like Mark Finchem say there was fraud, they’re not blaming me. They’re blaming you. They’re blaming your neighbors. They’re blaming their own fellow Americans. They’re dividing us one against the other with zero evidence whatsoever, and they’re doing it for the benefit of one person.
“And that’s not American. That’s right. That’s not just un-American. It’s anti-American. When your fellow Americans asked them which individuals they saw, which piece of evidence they know of, which reality they have experienced themselves. That puts them in the position to be able to call that sort of a foul. It doesn’t exist. It is a fantasy. It is falseness
Adrian Fontes meets with Pima County Young Democrats
“What we have now is an entire people worshiping at the foot of the golden calf of a lie. And the rest of us have to come down from the mountain with the truth, and we have to crush that golden calf.
“We have to restore faith that Americans have in Americans that we have in one another because that lady that I talked to should not be missing the chance to speak with her Republican friend. She should be scheduling that next coffee or that next glass of wine with her Republican friend because we are.
Susan Bickel, Chair of the LD18 Democrats.
“Now as your Secretary of State, there are several things that I’d like to do first and foremost. I’d like to make sure that every single one of our 15 counties has a Secretary of State who knows what questions to ask when going all the way around the state to see what resources are necessary to improve, not just our tabulation systems and the IT security on the inside, but how we can best communicate with the voters in their counties to make sure that every eligible voter has the information that they need to get out there and exercise that fundamental right.
We need experience in office
“We need a secretary of State who has actually been a County Recorder, which is the registrar of voters. Why? Because the voter registration system statewide is held at the Secretary’s office. We’ve never had a county recorder as Secretary of State. Wow. Yeah. Everybody out there has also never had a Marine Corps veteran as Secretary of State.
150 Democrats from all across Pima County cheered on Adrian Fontes.
“We’ve also never had a Secretary of State who starts on day one as a certified election administrator. My certification comes from Auburn University and the election center in Katy, Texas. I went through that because I wanted to be a good election administrator and as a professional then I could speak with some authority and at least know which questions to ask, to say nothing of one of the most challenging jobs that I’ve ever held in my entire life.
“This is incredibly serious business, but we have to proceed with love. We have to proceed with humor. We have to proceed with grace, and we have to recognize the human dignity that each of us carries inside of us because we’re all made of. Stuff. And at the end of the day, I miss my Republican friends too, and sometimes facetiously, but also with a bit of sincerity.
Adrian Fontes (second from left) with his daughters and LD17 Senate candidate Mike Nichols
“I call my Republican friends because if I call them enemies, then I’m no better than they are. If I call them enemies, I’m no better than they are. And if I don’t address my opponent the way I did in that debate, saying “Sir” and “Mr.,” then I’m no better than he is. I’m no better than their name-calling is.
Our democracy was intended to be run by people with honor and people with integrity, and what we find is that there are people who dishonor their offices or dishonor the offices they want to be in or who lack the sufficient integrity to be able to run these offices as intended as we expect, and fulfillment of the oath of that office.
In mid-November of 2020, when it became statistically impossible for me to win reelection in Maricopa County and it was the narrowest of margin, my ego must tell you. What did I do? I didn’t complain. I didn’t complain out loud. I called my Republican opponent, Steven Richard. I congratulated him on his victory, and I invited him down to have a tour of his new office because that’s the way American Power is transferred peacefully and with respect and with dignity.
Ten little words
And as I live that example, so I pledge to you, I will live the example of the kind of Secretary of State that Arizona deserves. Our motto is God gives, but what we do with those gifts, Is up to us. There are ten little two-letter words that reflect that idea that I heard from a World War II veteran once, not my grandfather, although that would make for a better story,
And these ten little two-letter words were exemplified by the good people who’ve been knocking on doors, who’ve been organizing these events, who’ve been running for office like so many of our candidates out here, these ten little two-letter words are the words that each and every single one of us must say to ourselves, and we must repeat this mantra if we are going to make it happen.
The ten little two-letter words should drive us. Just like the spirit that you feel right now motivates you, this will put it into action. Those ten little two-letter words are simple: If it is to be, it is up to me. If it is to be, it is up to me.
Say it to yourself right now. Say it with me. If it is to be, it is up to me. Remember, every single one of us has power. Every single one of us has capacity. Every single one of us has the spirit of American democracy in us, or we would not be here. Grasp that. Utilize that. Make it happen. Make it happen, not just for you, not just for me, but for our future.
Take some of those yard signs, put them up in your yards. There are tons of them. Do the texting, do the postcards, do the phone calls, do the door knocking. Talk to the neighbors in the grocery store. Remember, if it is to be, it is up to me. My name is Adrian Fontes, and if it was up to me and with your help, I will be your next secretary.
Larry Bodine is the President of Democrats of Greater Tucson, and a PC in Legislative District 18.
A journalist and attorney, Larry Bodine attends live political events and reports on them for the Blog for Arizona, which features politics from a liberal viewpoint. See http://blogforarizona.net/
He has been an elected Democratic precinct committeeman in Illinois and Arizona, starting with the 2006 Tammy Duckworth campaign (she is now a US Senator). As an elected Democratic precinct committeeman in LD9 in Tucson, he works to get Democrats elected. Since 2017 he has taught “Getting Active in Local Politics” at OLLI-UA (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
His 45-year career includes reporting for the New York Daily News, which was the largest-circulation US newspaper at the time. He has won 7 awards for investigative journalism.