Adrian Fontes, Democratic Secretary of State candidate and former Maricopa County Recorder, expressed his dedication to advocacy for young voters, serving underrepresented communities and "protecting this democracy" Friday at an ASU Young Democrats general meeting.
Fontes — an ASU alum who graduated in 1998 with a communication degree — was unseated from his position as Maricopa County Recorder in the 2020 election. According to Ballotpedia, Fontes, as County Recorder, was responsible for "handling marriage licenses and deeds, collecting campaign finance information from local candidates, and administering elections."
Jose Munguia, vice president of ASU Young Democrats and a senior studying economics, said it was important to hear from candidates running for office "in spaces that mainly concern us as a student body."
Fontes asked the crowd to consider his tenure as Maricopa County Recorder as making him a credible candidate for Secretary of State. He will run against Reginald Bolding in the Democratic primary in August 2022.
Similar to County Recorders, those who are elected Secretary of State oversee election policy, however, their range of power reaches a statewide level. In addition, the Secretary of State has the ability to serve as acting governor.
Fontes listed several accomplishments he achieved as county recorder, including the establishment of vote centers, the ability for one to track their ballot and the addition of roundtables for those with disabilities and communities of color.
"I have receipts. I did the job. Now I want to do it statewide," Fontes said.
Several students who attended, including junior applied mathematics student, Jorja Overbey, felt confident Fontes' experience as county recorder would make him "uniquely qualified" for the role of Secretary of State.
Fontes leaned on his origins from Nogales – an Arizona town on the border of Mexico – and family history to show how his "deep sense of connection to the community" and understanding of the need to assist underrepresented communities.
"My family has been serving this community, either military service or civic service or some other way," Fontes said.
Clare Welch, a junior studying international trade who's heard Fontes speak on several occasions said "every time Adrian Fontes comes in I know it's going to be a good speech because he's just like one of the more genuine people in Arizona politics. I find it very refreshing as opposed to kind of the wishy-washy answers that you get sometimes."
Fontes also answered questions from the crowd concerning the election audit, the filibuster and getting in good graces with Gov. Doug Ducey's and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema's voters.
Before asking students to sign petitions and visit his website, he concluded his visit by empowering students to take up the mantle in encouraging the protection of democracy.
"You're out there knocking on doors, you're out there, your friends, your family, to help protect this democracy," Fontes said. "Give them hope, help them believe again, that's up to you."
Throughout his time in the lecture hall, Fontes painted the future he envisions with hope, despite currently high political divisiveness.
"There's still plenty of good ol' fashioned humanity in the world, you have to believe that," Fontes said. "The reason we have elections is because we disagree, that's how civil societies make the determination, not from the point of a gun but from the point of a pen."
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Alexis Waiss is an assignment editor and senior reporter, covering breaking news and writing long-form stories. Alexis worked on SP's politics desk for a year, where she reported on the Legislature, higher education policy, student government, the city of Tempe and stories highlighting social justice. She previously worked as a fellow for the Asian American Journalist Association's VOICES program.