Joe Arpaio's Nemesis Rebecca Jimenez, Guadalupe's Once and Perhaps Future Mayor
Rebecca Jimenez's campaign video, produced by Dennis Gilman
Sheriff Joe Arpaio may have one foot in the grave (we hope) due to his "broken arm," but one of his enemies from not too long ago is alive and well and running for mayor of the unique little town of Guadalupe.
I'm speaking of Rebecca Jimenez, one of the bravest and best persons I've ever met in Arizona. Jimenez was mayor of Guadalupe during the MCSO's infamous immigration "sweep" of that square-mile burg in 2008.
Arpaio's deputies -- usually no more than two at time -- provide law enforcement services for the town. But in April of that year, Arpaio turned Guadalupe into a mini-police state, having his boys and girls in beige stop cars on the pretext of minor traffic offenses in order to question people about their immigration status.
He did this on false pretext, quickly inflaming Guadalupe's 5,500 residents, who are mostly of Native American and Mexican-American heritage, and whose families have lived in Guadalupe for generations.
As Arpaio played to the media at an ad hoc operations center set up in the middle of town, Jimenez marched up to Arpaio alone, presenting him with a press release calling on him to leave.
The MCSO's jefe, unused to such defiance, turned on Jimenez with a spitting rage, arguing with her about claims made in an MCSO press release, which stated falsely that the town's city council invited the MCSO to do the sweep.
"Forget the press release!" Arpaio fumed at the time, with news cameras catching every second of his hissy fit. "That doesn't matter. Action is what speaks . . . You said you didn't want us back here tomorrow. Is that what you said?"
"Yes," answered Jimenez.
"Well, we will be back here tomorrow," Arpaio insisted. "Full force!"
Indeed, the sweep continued for the next day, with MCSO patrol cars and a helicopter actually menacing a confirmation ceremony for boys and girls in the town, presided over by Bishop Thomas Olmsted.
But Arpaio's ego had taken a bruising, and the command center retreated to a location just outside of town. Arpaio had been kicked to the curb just when he thought he was cock of the walk. By a Latina, no less.
Jimenez quickly became a folk hero, but the petty jealousies of the town's power structure eventually worked against her, scuttling her attempts to score a law enforcement contract with another agency, recalling from office one of her allies on the town council, and eventually voting her out of the mayoral position, which at that time was decided by a majority council vote.
Fast forward a few years. Guadalupe's mayor is now popularly elected, and Jimenez has thrown her hat into the ring, one of four people vying for that office.