Hispanic Chamber Of Commerce Looking Forward To Economic Benefits Of New Sheriff
This week’s election brought an end to Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s 24 years in office here in Maricopa County, which has been celebrated by many Hispanic advocacy organizations that campaigned against him.
One of those groups is the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. They endorsed Democratic candidate, and now sheriff-elect, Paul Penzone, during the election, and they were one of many groups that, in 2010, filed a lawsuit over Senate Bill 1070, the law that included the controversial "Show me your papers" provision that Arpaio was in favor of.
According to James Garcia, director of communications with the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the group is involved in all of this because Arpaio’s policies may have been about immigration, but they had a huge effect on the economy, as well.
“We are absolutely convinced that the kind of image and reputation that Sheriff Arpaio contributed to, putting the state in a very bad light in the same way that SB 1070 did, that kind of negative image, that kind of negative reputation is harmful to the economy,” Garcia said.
One way he said Arpaio and his policies affected the economy was by hurting tourism. “People who think you live in an intolerant state may not want to come visit,” he said.
It also makes it harder for the state to attract Hispanic workers, according to Garcia, whether that’s people who were thinking about coming to take a job here with Intel or Apple, or those in working-class jobs.
The construction industry saw workers fleeing the state after SB 1070. “That has a direct impact on the economy,” he said. “Right now, if you talk to construction companies, they are very concerned that even as the economy recovers, that they do not have enough workers.”
As far as the new sheriff-elect goes, Garcia said that he has an enormous task ahead of him. Penzone needs to rebuild trust with the Hispanic community in the county, he said, and build relationships with Hispanic leaders.
“But it’s going to take time,” he said, “He has to dismantle a reputation that has been built up for 20 plus years.”
After his election on Nov. 8, Penzone said that he is ready to bring the community together after so many years of division.
“The community will be in partnership,” he said. “Law enforcement is an extension of the community, so we need to wrap our arms around that and our heads around it and say, ‘We’re in this together.’”