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Political Notebook: Tucson leaders appalled at Minneapolis death; GOP video attacks Kelly
Political Notebook

Political Notebook: Tucson leaders appalled at Minneapolis death; GOP video attacks Kelly

Video emerged recently of a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on the neck of an African American man named George Floyd. Floyd, who died after the incident, can be heard in the video gasping for breath and saying, “Please, I can’t breathe.”

Floyd’s death comes on the heels of other recent incidents involving black civilians and white authority figures and has inspired protests across the country.

That includes in Tucson, where Mayor Regina Romero and Tucson Police Department Chief Chris Magnus weighed in on the controversy via Twitter.

On Wednesday, the mayor tweeted:

“My heart is heavy after learning of the atrocious events that led to the killing of #GeorgeFloyd. I’m outraged that another unarmed black human being has lost their life to an incomprehensible & disgusting act of violence. We must demand accountability & justice.”

Magnus also tweeted on the same day:

“Indefensible use of force that good officers everywhere are appalled by. This is contrary to how PROFESSIONAL police officers train & conduct themselves. Conduct like this anywhere makes it more difficult for police everywhere to build community trust.”

In a telephone interview, the mayor expounded on her tweet, and offered praise to Magnus.

“There’s a reason why we hired him,” Romero said, referring to the decision the City Council came to in 2015 to bring Magnus on as police chief. “I saw in him that he is one of the most progressive chiefs of police in the entire country.”

Romero couldn’t say how she would react if a similar instance were to happen in Tucson, but she offered high praise for Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who has called for the prosecution of the officers involved.

“It was very bold of him to do,” she said. “But it was the right thing for him to do, to say, ‘If you and I had done something similar, we would have been arrested on the spot.’”

McSally has different ‘World View’ than Kelly

The National Republican Senatorial Committee wants to let the air out of the Mark Kelly campaign with a new video attacking the Democratic challenger for his ties to a company that operates balloon flights to the stratosphere.

The video, released last week, hits the retired astronaut for his role as co-founder of World View Enterprises, which operates out of a launch facility south of Tucson International Airport. The facility was built for the company through a $15 million infrastructure deal with Pima County.

According to the GOP fundraising group backing incumbent Sen. Martha McSally, World View has failed to deliver the hundreds of jobs it promised, while accepting investments from a Chinese tech giant with ties to that country’s authoritarian government.

As NRSC spokeswoman Joanna Rodriguez put it: “Kelly owes Arizonans an explanation for his profiting off broken promises and reckless national security risks.”

Kelly campaign spokesman Jacob Peters called that a “baseless political attack” against a Navy combat veteran who “has been clear that China is an adversary and threat to American interests.”

In a financial disclosure last year, Kelly stated he worked as a strategic adviser for World View from November 2015 until February 2019, the same month he announced his candidacy.

World View is several years into a 20-year lease with Pima County that is expected to cover the initial public investment in the launch facility, plus several million dollars more.

County spokesman Mark Evans said the company was up to date with its lease payments until April, when World View accepted a six-month deferral the county offered to a number of its lessees impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic downturn.

Deputies’ union endorses Conover

The Pima County Deputy Sheriff’s Association has endorsed Laura Conover for Pima County attorney, the union announced this week.

Conover, a Democrat, is a criminal-defense attorney who worked in superior and federal courts for more than a decade. She is the founder of Conover Law firm and manages 400 federal contract attorneys in the state through a federal judicial appointment.

Eric Cervantez, union president, said Conover “understands the difference between healing first-time drug defendants and prosecuting drug cartels.” He said she has a vision for fighting addiction and crime that is driven by data.

“We know that Ms. Conover will take on those difficult cases and win them for our community not because it will feed her ego or inflate trial numbers, but because she understands how the entire criminal process works and can be improved,” said Cervantez.

The union also believes in her leadership, coming from a law enforcement and military family, and her commitment to public service.

“She is up for the challenge of running an office of attorneys who, for too long, have suffered from the same attrition that has harmed the Sheriff’s Department,” said the union president.

Deputies believe she has the leadership qualities to improve morale, create better working conditions and increase pay for deputy county attorneys.

The union represents 275 commissioned officers.

The two other candidates, also Democrats, are Jonathan Mosher, chief criminal deputy, and Mark Diebolt, a deputy county prosecutor, both in the Pima County Attorney’s Office. Mosher is endorsed by the Tucson Police Officers Association.

District 5 candidate fights disqualification

As the 2020 primary election approaches, candidates running for Pima County Board of Supervisor seats have secured their signatures and their slots on the ballot. However, in one of the county’s most anticipated races, District 5, one Democratic candidate has been taken out of the running after submitting 168 invalid signatures and failing to meet the minimum signature requirement.

The nomination of political newcomer Trista Tramposch Di Genova-Chang for District 5 supervisor was challenged in court by Pima County recorder candidate Benny White last month. Di Genova-Chang filed 289 signatures on April 6, over half of which were contested for legal reasons, including having many signatures from voters who were not registered in District 5.

After reviewing the signatures, the Pima County Recorder’s Office concluded that 168 of the challenged signatures were invalid. Candidates running for supervisor in District 5 were required to have 199 signatures to qualify for the ballot. After the ruling, Di Genova-Chang was left with 121 valid signatures.

Di Genova-Chang filed an appeal May 18, calling White’s challenge against her “a calculated form of intimidation and harassment designed to block (her) ... from gaining ballot access.”

After the death of Supervisor Richard Elías, the District 5 race continues to garner attention. Among the candidates who made the ballot are Democrats Adelita Grijalva and Consuelo Hernandez and Republican Fernando Gonzales.

Edward Celaya

Henry Brean

Carmen Duarte

Jasmine Demers

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