For Eric Robbins, PCDP Chair for the next two years, teaching is a family tradition. He left the business world for a middle-school classroom, following his parents’ career paths.
“Mom was the first Reading Specialist in Somersworth, N.H., in the early 1970s,’’ says Eric, 57. “I used to tutor kids in her Reading Lab. Dad was a teacher and principal.’’
Somersworth is a short walk over a bridge from Eric’s rural Maine childhood home. It’s also an early primary state that presidential hopefuls swarm every four years, offering young Eric a real-time tutorial in retail politics.
“I saw national politics localized: ‘There’s Teddy Kennedy walking down the street.’ I believed that politics was accessible.’’
The Robbins family moved to Tucson when Eric’s dad “got sick of putting wood in that wood stove.’’ Eric graduated from Amphitheater High School. He earned a B.S. in Information Technology from the University of Phoenix and an MBA from the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management. That program took him to China and Hong Kong, fueling his love of travel.
He spent 30 years in sales, business development and consulting, and owned two small businesses before “pivoting to my family vocation and becoming a teacher, completing some cosmic cycle.’’
“I’ve been in school most of my life,’ he says. “My hobbies are studying new subjects and futures trading, which is a thrilling exercise in managing both math and emotion.’’
Eric may be the first PCDP Chair from South Tucson, where he lives with “a wonderful life partner who enhances my knowledge of women’s issues,’’ eight cats and a rabbit. He’s dad to a high school student, whose future motivates his activism.
“The best world I can leave her is her truest inheritance,” he says.
Eric canvassed and registered voters before the 2016 presidential election but was “so dismayed/traumatized/horrified by what happened that I got much more involved at the LD level…I believe it is an obligation of every citizen to be involved in the body politic to represent their own interests. The degree to which I can help that happen is under threat.’’
Appointed LD21’s 2nd Vice Chair last year, he is “thrilled to be trusted to join the leadership of the Pima County Democratic Party as Chair by a huge turnout of PCs from throughout Pima County.’’ Outgoing Chair Bonnie Heidler “provided amazing leadership and led PCDP through a very challenging time with the pandemic. She did so with grace and professionalism. I am mindful of that legacy.’’
Among his priorities is building and restoring connections throughout Southern Arizona. “A party earns a place in a community by modeling values that are important to that community. It is inverted to think that a community should ‘join’ a party. A party must be willing to join with the community. That means service, commitment, candor, and engagement.”
He and PCDP’s new leadership team will also take a close look at PCDP’s fundraising structure during their first 90 days.
“We will build on the momentum from the recent victories in the mid-term cycle,’’ he says. “Those volunteers at the campaign level have key skills and talents, and we can work on increasing PC training, resources and support to help capture Democratic majorities at the local, state, and national level. Supporting candidates for Tucson city elections will be at the top of our priority list in 2023.
“Politics is a team sport, and I am lucky to have people who have roots in local LDs and a history of accomplishment at both levels of the organization on our team, ‘’ Eric says. “The next two years will be critical.’’
Another agenda item: PCDP’s headquarters at 4639 E. First Street.
“It’s on the market, and although status of sale remains unresolved, selling is still the plan. But in the meantime, I intend to revitalize HQ and make it more welcoming to all Democrats.”
While celebrating the party’s statewide gains in November, Democrats’ most unexpected loss – Superintendent of Public Instruction – stunned him. Voters narrowly replaced a respected Democratic educator with a Republican anti-diversity crusader/politician who never taught.
“Given how close the recent elections were and seeing the superintendent race go to someone so much less qualified than the Kathy Hoffman is massively frustrating as an educator, and I hope to keep it in the forefront of the public mind,’’ Eric says. “Treatment of teachers is foundational to problems in Arizona.”
As for Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s switch from Democrat to Independent, Eric feels the great Maya Angelou got it right. “ ‘When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.’ This was not a surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention.”
During the PCDP chair campaign, Eric held a series of meet-and-greet Zoom Open Forums. Acknowledging Arizona’s battleground-state status, he titled the last one, “Is Pima County going to be the Center of The Political Universe in 2024?’’
“Maybe not,’’ he says, “but you’ll be able to see it from there. Pima Dems will be ready.’’
Cesar a dedicated husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, of Tucson, Arizona passed away on December 2, 2022, at the age of 79, at home surrounded by his family as the rosary was being prayed.
Cesar was born in Ciudad Jimenez, Chihuahua, Mx on April 1, 1943. Cesar moved to the United States August 1970 and became a U.S. Citizen.
Cesar worked as an electrician at San Manuel Mine for 25 years and after retiring from the mine he was a bail bonds agent for 25 years. Cesar was involved in civil right marches, supported political office candidates and was a Democratic Precinct Committee man.
We extend our sympathies, and thank you for his work, to his family. Cesar is survived by his wife, Lupita Flores Shestko-Montiel; his daughters, Lucy Sifuentes and Sonia Ramirez from El Paso, Texas; his stepchildren, Debbie A. Shestko Rios, Diana M. Shestko Lopez, James Michael Shestko and Anna May Shestko Valdillez; 38 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren.
Please join his family for the following services: The Rosary and the Viewing will be on Sunday, December, 18, 2022 from 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. at FUNERARIA DEL ANGEL SOUTH LAWN. The requiem Mass will be held on Monday, December 19, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. at St. Augustine Cathedral, 192 S. Stone Ave., Tucson, Az 85701. Cesar will be laid to rest, following the Mass, at South Lawn Memorial Cemetery, 5401 S. Park Ave., Tucson, AZ, 85706.
Hello Pima Dems! I am so excited and grateful to take on the role of Executive Director for the Pima County Democratic Party. I am proud of the work we have all done to elect Democrats up and down the ballot in Pima County during this last Midterm Election cycle. We had some big wins!
I remain committed and humbled to support PCDP. My current priorities:
Making sure our Headquarters building is secure and welcoming.
Coordinating our fantastic corps of dedicated and knowledgeable volunteers – they teach me something new every day.
Implementing a formal training program for new volunteers.
Bringing on several wonderful Interns from the University of Arizona Political Science Department.
Ensuring our digital files stay updated and secure.
Working to help the new Chair and leadership realize their vision for PCDP.
Collaborate with our fundraising teams to develop a bold and creative path forward.
As we pause during the winter holiday; I am reflective of the tremendous effort – this midterm took – by all of our volunteers and activists. We truly cannot do things alone; and we all have value; no matter how we contribute to the cause.
What is going on at HQ?
We had a wonderful Volunteer Appreciation Brunch at the Blue Willow for all of our dedicated HQ volunteers. They do so much more than just answer the phone!
Volunteer Projects: Our Lead Volunteers are immensely talented, networked in our community, and knowledgeable. They have taken on projects such as: Training, Intern Coordinator, Building Coordinator, Events, and Rural Outreach. We have many ideas in the hopper for future events and training that will take place at HQ in the New Year. Stay tuned!
We are also working hard to train all newer volunteers on petitions, Request To Speak (RTS,) Canvassing, etc., we are undergoing a “Train the Trainer” program as we speak!
Lots of updating of our files to reflect our new PCDP leadership team.
General reset of the building post election; taking signs to Councilperson Kozachik’s recycling program, organizing and auditing supplies, some yard work too!
I wish everyone a peaceful and restful holiday season; We will be closed from Dec 19th – January 3rd. Please stop by HQ anytime after that – our door is always open! Happy New Year!
Eric Robbins is the Pima County Democratic Party’s new chair. Elected at PCDP’s Dec. 10, 2022, biannual reorganization, Robbins, 57, will serve a two year term. He will succeed Bonnie Heidler, who did not seek a second term.
A New England native, Robbins holds a B.S. in Information Technology from the University of Phoenix and an MBA from the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management. He graduated from Tucson’s Amphitheater High School. Robbins spent 30 years in sales and business development and co-owned two small businesses before “pivoting back to my family vocation’’ by following his parents into teaching. He teaches middle-school science and math.
“I am thrilled to be trusted to join the leadership of the Pima County Democratic Party as Chair,’’ Robbins said. “We need to build connections around the values that unite us as Democrats.”
Serving with Robbins are First Vice Chair Carol Schloff, Second Vice Chair Maggie Winchell, Treasurer Brian Bickel, Recording Secretary Kitty Kennedy and Corresponding Secretary Beth Mitchneck.
“Supporting candidates for city elections will be at the top of our priority list in 2023,’’ Robbins said. Looking ahead to the 2024 election cycle, in which Arizona will play a crucial role, Robbins said that while Pima County might not become “the Center of The Political Universe, you’ll be able to see it from here, and Pima Dems will be ready.’’
PCDP is happy to announce the election of a new Executive Committee. Congratulations to our new officers! We look forward to hitting the ground running to implement the new ideas brewing for invigorating Democratic voters. There were qualified candidates in all races – thank you to all who ran. Let’s work together to make the party stronger than ever.
Your New Team-
Chair Eric Robbins
1st Vice Chair Carol Schloff
2nd Vice Chair Maggie Winchell
Treasurer Brian Bickel
Recording Secretary Kitty Kennedy
Corresponding Secretary Beth Mitchneck
Executive Committee Representatives April Ignacio Marcelino Flores Maria Parsons
We are now in the home stretch—the 2022 General Election is just a week away. All the LDs are busy contacting voters to get out and vote. Voter turnout in this midterm election is essential for Democrats to win up and down the ballot.
But the Republicans don’t want you to vote. Voter intimidation is up.
All the County Democratic Chairs received a threatening letter from a group called “Ben Sent U.S.” saying “We will be watching” along with calling us traitors and you know what they do with traitors.
Mark Finchem, who wants to have control over the election process, as Secretary of State, posted on Facebook on October 14 “My message for Pima County @justfollowthelaw. We will be watching.”Notice the exact wording from the threatening letter was repeated.
In Mesa, masked men dressed in tactical gear, carrying guns were patrolling near a drop box.
Several lawsuits were filed against the organizations that are doing this voter intimidation. Predictably, a federal judge appointed by Trump ruled that the actions did not reach the level of voter intimidation…they were just “exercising their First Amendment rights.” By law, voter intimidation is whatever a voter says it is. If you feel threatened by gun wielding men near a drop box, that is the VERY definition of voter intimidation. The ruling is being appealed.
We must keep focused on the mission to elect Democrats up and down the ballot. We must continue to point out what President Biden has done in almost two years, against great odds and without Republicans who refuse to support any of President Biden’s agenda. The Republicans have been VERY clear as to what they plan to do if they are in charge again.
They promise to remove what they consider “entitlements” and stop the Debt Ceiling from passing in order to do it. Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid are NOT entitlements. Anyone who is employed and having taxes taken out of their paycheck pays contributions into these funds. We earned that money.
They plan to remove most recently enacted acts like the Inflation Reduction Act which lowers prescription drug costs for seniors, if Republicans take the House and/or Senate.
And, instead of governing, they want to vindictively impeach President Biden and start investigations that will cost taxpayers a lot of money for NO GOOD REASON.
If they get into power, democracy is gone. We CANNOT let that happen. We need to have faith that voters won’t elect these extremists.
November will be reorganization month for all the Legislative Districts, when new party leaders are elected at the LD level. On Saturday, December 10, PCDP will also be electing a new Executive Committee. Only elected PCs are allowed to vote in reorganization meetings.
As we enter into the Holiday season, I’m thankful for all of the work you all are doing to educate your friends, fund campaigns and get out the vote!
TUCSON – PCDP CHAIR, BONNIE HEIDLER released the following statement on a Pima County superior court judge’s reinstatement of a pre-statehood (Territorial) abortion ban.
A Pima County judge ruled on Friday afternoon to lift a 1973 court injunction against a territorial era Arizona abortion ban. This ruling reinstates the pre-statehood law banning abortion in all cases (even rape and incest), with only one exception – the life of the mother.
This law, passed in an era when women wore corsets and were not allowed to vote, would mandate two to five years in prison for abortion providers. Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson said in her ruling that since “the legal basis,” which was Roe v. Wade, for the injunction has been overruled, “it must vacate the judgment in its entirety.”
The Pima County Democratic Party is outraged by today’s decision by the Pima County Superior Court to allow this territorial ban on abortion to take effect. As we have already seen across the nation, this draconian step backwards will result in the death of Arizona citizens. Our loved ones will die, and our families will be traumatized forever.
Abortion is healthcare. One in four women, and their doctors will choose abortion – for a million possible reasons. Not ONE of these reasons is the business of the government. This ruling is a giant and terrifying new reality for all Arizonans. When a person’s autonomy over their body is taken from them, they are not free. We are not free.
Though we know the Republicans intend to pursue a national ban on all abortion, currently the abortion issue is now up to the states to decide. We must take swift action and unite to protect our rights. It is up to us in Pima County to protect our neighbors, friends and families. Vote only for candidates who will defend our right to make decisions about our own bodies. Ballots will be mailed on October 12th, 2022 – and early voting will begin. Vote your whole ballot, from bottom to top, from back to front.
Thanks to everyone who participated, this was a wonderful event!
Arizona is a battleground state for the 2022 midterms, as well as ground zero for conspiracy theories and false claims of election fraud. Many of the key players involved in the January 6th Insurrection live in our own backyard.
Now more than ever, we must fight for the truth in order to preserve democracy.
Support the Pima County Democratic Party by joining us on September 17th at the Desert Diamond Casino for our 2022 Udall Dinner, as we rally our energy and fill the coffers to fight for our Democracy!
Adrian Fontes, our nominee for Secretary of State, is our keynote speaker.