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PHOENIX — The countdown has begun for the upcoming election and voters all over the state are casting ballots with their top picks. One of the big races capturing voters attention is the race for Arizona’s secretary of state.
Democrat Adrian Fontes sat down with 12News to talk about why he chose to run and what he’ll bring to the office, if elected.
“I’m an an attorney, a Marine Corps veteran, and I really have a passion for making sure every eligible voter gets a chance to vote,” he said.
Fontes said his passion is guaranteeing Arizona conducts fair elections.
“My opponent feels exactly the opposite,” Fontes said. “He thinks that he and the Legislature should be picking winners and losers when they decide it serves their political means and shutting voters out.”
He said that the biggest difference between him and his opponent, Republican Mark Finchem, is their stance on the 2020 election results.
“You can have differences of opinion on policy, on education policy, how you do things, but you can’t argue against facts,” he said.
Fontes had a front row seat to the chaos and controversy surrounding the 2020 election. He was the Maricopa County Recorder at the time and stands by the outcome.
“The election deniers have created an environment where they want people to doubt each other,” he said. “They want Americans to have lost faith in one another. What I want to do, is say, ‘Hey! Look! All the people that did all this work that your saying was fraud or fake or whatever, they’re all Americans, just like you and me and everybody else. They did their job and every serious examination has illustrated that.’”
Fontes narrowly lost his re-election bid to the county recorder’s office in 2020 to Republican Stephen Richer.
Now, two years later, the experiences gained from 2020, have Fontes looking at something bigger: becoming the next secretary of state.
“We need to have stability in office,” he said.
The position plays a huge roll in securing elections, engaging voters, certifying results, and is first-in-line to succeed the governor if the top executive can’t finish their term in office. The stakes are high and Fontes said he’s ready.
“I feel duty-bound,” he said. “When I served in the Marine Corps, it was something I thought a lot about. And in that service, I realized more and more how many people died for this right to vote.”
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His main objective and biggest challenge, he said, is bringing trust back to voters.
“We really have to just face the facts, tell the truth and the American public will understand,” Fontes said. “This is a big deal. It is the core of the American ethos to have this communal activity that we call elections deciding who our leaders are. Not only are they safe, but they’re secure and accountable and that’s been proven.”
He also vows to work closely with the new governor, even if the beliefs of the person who’s elected don’t quite align with his own.
“I would open an invitation to if it was then Governor (Kari) Lake and say, ‘Lets go on a tour, lets visit some of the county election departments, lets talk to the professionals that actually do the election work, and lets find the facts.’ And if in fact there’s room for improvement lets go ahead and do it.”
Ballots are already coming in for the November election and cases of alleged voter intimidation have been reported in Maricopa County. Fontes, on Monday, made a strong statement condemning this type of behavior, saying:
“To the thugs terrorizing people at drop boxes with masks, with weapons: you’re not Batman. You’re not heroes. You’re anti-American bullies who are breaking the law and intimidating voters based on a lie. Someone is going to get killed. I call on Mark Finchem and others egging on these bad actors to stop. As a former Assistant Attorney General, a former prosecutor for the County Attorney’s office, and a United States Marine, I support the DOJ’s intolerance of voter intimidation and hope to see them bring the hammer down on these shameful agitators who threaten our democratic norms.”
And with the November election near, Fontes looks to the voters, hopeful, they’ll give him the chance to do the job he wants.
RELATED: Maricopa County sheriff increases security at ballot drop-off locations
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Arizonans will go to the polls this November for the midterm elections. Here’s everything you need to know leading up to election night.
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