Get Out The Vote Rallies Draw Candidates to Community
November 4, 2022
The Gila River Indian Community launched a series of Get Out The Vote rallies ahead of the mid-term elections, urging Community members and Native people everywhere to vote on Nov. 8.
The Community hosted the first Get Out The Vote rally on Wednesday, Oct. 19. U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly joined Governor Stephen Roe Lewis at the Governance Center in Sacaton for the first event. Sen. Kelly has visited the Community on multiple occasions and returned once again to encourage everyone to vote this Nov. as he campaigns for re-election.
“Today is our kick-off for early voting and to Get Out The Vote, because we take voting seriously in our Community,” said Gov. Lewis. “This goes all the way back to Peter Porter and Rudolph Johnson, who fought for our right to vote back in 1928 for the right to vote and now we’re building upon our past leaders that sacrificed for that right.”
Gov. Lewis named Ira H. Hayes and military veterans, including Sen. Kelly, as leaders who continue to fight for our rights to vote as citizens today.
Sen. Kelly has made multiple visits to the Community since taking office and has remained a champion of GRIC and all Arizona tribal communities.
“For the last two-and-a-half years, Sen. Kelly has fought for the federal funding that was instrumental in keeping our Community safe like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” said Gov. Lewis. “And now we have the Inflation Reduction Act, that has provided $4,000,000,000 for drought re-lief in the region.”
“Elections matter and when people vote our democracy is stronger, regardless of who you vote for,” said Sen. Kelly. “So I’m encouraging you to get out and vote…thank you for being here to-day it shows your interested in our democracy, voting and please tell everyone you know to vote, it should not be an option.”
Then on Oct. 26, a second Get Out The Vote rally took place at the Sacaton Fairgrounds and featured guest speakers Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs. U.S Rep. Tom O’Halleran, and U.S. Rep., and Assistant Speaker of the House Katherine Clark. Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis also addressed several hundred attendees, emphasizing how important it is for Arizona candidates to meet directly with Community members.
“When candidates come to our sacred land here, that speaks volumes,” said Gov Lewis. “They’re not just speaking from DC, they’re not just speaking from the state Legislature. It’s important for our youth to see this, to impress upon them the importance of voting and giving back to the Community.”
Gov. Lewis also emphasize the critical nature of the 2022 election, which he warns could impact voters’ rights for generations to come.
“We turned out in the highest levels in 2020 and as Governor, I want to make sure that every Community member has the right to vote,” he explained. “Arizona is the epicenter for potential legislation that’s going to hinder and frustrate voting – especially for our Community members and Native Americans. This truly is a battleground for the right to vote.”
The rally also featured music, food, raffles and Get Out the Vote swag. Jr. Miss Gila River 22-23 Eliana Rhodes was on hand doing a live painting exhibition while the candidates spoke to the crowd.
“This election may be the most important election in our state’s history,” said Hobbs, Arizona’s Secretary of State who is now running against Republican Kari Lake in the governor’s race. “We need to make sure that no one sits on the sidelines because there’s so much at stake.”
Hobbs said her office has been working to ensure that tribal communities have equal access to the ballot.
“This election, I’m running for governor, to be governor of all of Arizona and that means representing our 22 tribal communities across the state,” said Hobbs. “It’s critical that they have a voice in our government.”
O’Halleran, a Democrat seeking to return to Congress, said: “The tribal vote is so important. We want to make sure people show up at the polls and show the strength that has been shown over the last two years.”
Miss Gila River 22-23 Kelsey Martinez shared remarks from the youth perspective. “Our responsibility is to be well-versed on the needs of our tribal communities and to be involved in the future course of our government,” said Martinez. “If we do not vote then the hardships of our youth, elders, and past generations may go unnoticed and will continue to trickle down to future generations.”
Martinez said she’s grateful to be part of a Community that motivates and educates its youth, helping them understand the importance and history of voting.
“Native youth between the ages of 18-24 make up a strong and powerful voting force that is often overlooked,” said Martinez.