Monday, January 23, 2012

East Valley Tribune Covers Campaign of Green Party Presidential Candidate Richard Grayson in Arizona Primary

The East Valley Tribune (Mesa, AZ) has covered the campaign of Green Party presidential candidate Richard Grayson in Arizona's February 28 Green Party presidential preference primary:

Three East Valley residents on presidential preference ballot

Posted: Sunday, January 22, 2012 12:41 pm | Updated: 9:18 am, Mon Jan 23, 2012.

By Garin Groff, Tribune

If Arizona voters aren't convinced Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich or other nationally-known figures are presidential material, there's no shortage of Arizona-grown candidates to consider.

Nearly two dozen obscure candidates will appear on Arizona's Feb. 28 presidential preference ballot, including three East Valley residents.

About half the lesser-known candidates are from out of state, with the rest from across Arizona.

One thing all candidates have in common: They got on the ballot with ease.

All they had to do was fill out a two-page form with the Arizona Secretary of State, swear they met Constitutional requirements for the office and have the paperwork notarized. There was no fee to get on the ballot.

The 23 Republican candidates include Cesar Cisneros of Mesa and Wayne Arnett of Tempe, who join national figures Romney, Gingrich, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum. Richard Grayson of Apache Junction is one of six Green Party candidates on Arizona's ballot.

Cisneros spoke earnestly about his bid for commander-in-chief. The trucking company owner and big rig driver said he's talked to thousands of people in numerous states since he began campaigning in 2010.

Cisneros, 62, is a Mormon with a wife and seven adult children who has never run for office. He is disappointed none of the other candidates have called for religion to play a greater role in public life.

"In order for us to prosper as a nation and to really be protected, we need the teachings of almighty God," Cisneros said.

Many of his views are standard for a Republican. He's for a strong national defense, low taxes and the Keystone gas pipeline. However, he wants to grant citizenship to illegal immigrants without felony records. After that, he'd seal the border.

Cisneros has never spoken to a big crowd and has only been able to get to other states because of his trucking job, he said. He's raised a few thousand dollars.

Americans of ordinary means are perhaps more qualified for the White House than wealthy candidates, he said.

"If they have these millions and billions of dollars, believe me, they're out of touch with the American people," he said. "How can they be in touch?"

He isn't included in the CNN Republican debate at the Mesa Arts Center on Feb. 22, but asked that voters call CNN to urge his inclusion. Cisneros said his desire to run comes from the heart but he acknowledges his odds of winning are slim.

"My slogan is: Miracles happen," he said.

Arnett didn't return a phone call left at his Chandler law firm.

Grayson did speak, though he said that "any publicity will probably just lose me votes."

The 60-year-old writer figures this is his fourth time on a ballot in Florida and Arizona since 1982. He first ran for a town council seat in a small Florida community.

"The people were starting to outnumber the horses, and I was mad about that," Grayson said. "My proposal was to give horses the right to vote, and I got 25 percent of the vote."

He ran for the 6th Congressional District in 2010, which is represented by Republican Jeff Flake. The Green Party sued to kick him off the ballot, but he prevailed. Just before election day, Grayson blogged that he didn't care if voters chose him. He added that most voters in the district "are ignorant morons."

Grayson said he doesn't tell people he's running, doesn't campaign and doesn't care if he gets any votes. He figures he'll get a handful of votes.

"Green Party primaries are pretty rare and Arizona, to its credit, has the easiest ballot requirements for presidential primaries," Grayson said. "For someone like me, it was irresistible. I mean, how can you just let it go by?"

Given the potential voice a presidential candidate could use, does Grayson at least have a message?

"No," he said. "I think more people should run. Or maybe Arizona should change its law or change its requirements so you have to be an actual, serious candidate."

Contact writer: (480) 898-6548 or

Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday Afternoon in Downtown Mesa: Mesa Martin Luther King Jr. Day Festival at the Mesa Arts Center

We were in downtown Mesa at the Mesa Arts Center on this cloudy, cool afternoon for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Festival,

a community celebration featuring music, dance, food, retail and organization booths, a youth area for kids and information on job opportunities, health, and outreach programs.

We had a terrific time watching the entertainment, checking out the various booths, and talking to people.

We're old enough to remember the heyday of the civil rights movement. In our teenage years Martin Luther King Jr. was important to us,

so we're grateful we got to spend this Martin Luther King Jr. with everyone in downtown Mesa.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Saturday Afternoon in Downtown Chandler: Chandler Multicultural Festival at the Chandler Public Library Courtyard

On this beautiful 70-degree afternoon on the Saturday of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, we were in downtown Chandler for the city's 17th annual Multicultural Festival,

part of the Celebration of Unity, to highlight the cultural diversity of the community through music, dance, art, storytelling and more.

We saw great performances by the Chandler Centennial Choir (top, on the Celebration Stage) and the magnetic Ken Koshio and his taiko drummers on the Unity Stage,

where we also got a chance to enjoy the music of Orquesta Kaliente.

A 2012 Arizona Centennial Designated Event, the festival ran today from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the public library courtyard

and featured, in addition to the work performing and visual artists, great food from different cultures, information on sponsors and organizations that promote cultural diversity, along with arts and crafts that represent various cultures.

As it moves into its second century next month, the state of Arizona is more diverse than ever, but the political culture is taking time to catch up with the demographic changes.

These pics were taking at the booth of the Center for Cultural Interchange, which organizes high school exchange, short-term group homestay, intern and trainee, work and travel in the U.S. and study, teaching, work, volunteer, and language programs in over 30 countries around the world.

In addition to the Chandler Centennial Choir (below), other groups that performed on the Celebration Stage included Ballet Folklorico Quetzalli,

the North Indian/Afghan Trio, Cool Hands and Dulcimer Times.

The TelaraƱa Weavers and Spinners were quite amazing to watch. Here's an account of their day from Jenn at Wind Rose Fiber Studio.

We've been signed up for the emails from PFLAG Phoenix -- originally Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, now updated for more inclusiveness but hard for us oldtimers to remember -- ever since we moved to Arizona the first time in 2000. They are a truly wonderful organization made up of the finest people around.

The LD21 Republicans were just one of the groups represented at the festival. People could also register at another booth from the Maricopa County Recorders office. Did we mention there is a Green Party presidential primary on February 28?

Molly's Tamales seemed to have the biggest lines of all the food stands when we passed by the first time.

There were also people waiting on line for gelato

and frybread, which make a great fusion mashup eating combo.

At the Unity Stage a big crowd, in seats and on the grass, was the audience for an 11 a.m. naturalization ceremony, when about 150 new U.S. citizens were sworn in, and great musical performances. Unfortunately, we weren't able to stay to see the traditional Polynesian and Scottish dances of Tia's Royal Islanders and the Maschino Highland Dancers, but we hope we can catch them another time.

The festival had, as part of the Arizona centennial, these posters with interesting information about the state's counties. During the Iowa caucuses we heard a lot about candidates going to all of that state's 99 counties? How come Arizona, with almost twice as many people, gets by with only 15 counties? (Hint: they're a lot bigger.)

There were also posters about Chandler history for its centennial, like this one about N.J. Harris, one of the city's first African-American residents and business owners.

There were a lot of families at the festival, as well as people of all ages as well as all backgrounds.

We grew up in Brooklyn so we've seen bocce ball played all our lives, but we guess this demonstration enlightened the clueless and those people not lucky enough to have lived in Italian neighborhoods.

At the information pavilion by the gazebo, there were prize-winning artworks by kids, like this one, "Panda Family," by a talented third grader, Grace Cao.

And this mural was painted for Dia de los Muertos at Dr. A.J. Park last November by artists like 3-year-old Alvaro Quintana.

Representatives from the Muslim community, the Asian community and others had tables with information and some goodies. Here is the current Miss Indian Arizona, Jaymee Li Moore, from the Colorado River Indian Tribes in Parker, who's a student at Northern Arizona University.

There was a lot to eat, read, watch and listen to at the Chandler Multicultural Festival

and we're very grateful to everyone who put this event together on the weekend of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.