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Arizona activists push for Sen. Allen to be removed as education chair

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PHOENIX — Arizona activists and political leaders are pushing for the removal of a state senator as the chair of the Education Committee after she made controversial comments earlier this month.

State Sen. Sylvia Allen said in a July 15 speech at an Arizona Republican Party event that the U.S. would soon look like “South American countries” due to declining white birth rates.

She also said she was concerned that immigrants aren’t being taught about the “greatness of America and our founding documents.”

“What kind of form of government are we going to live under in 10 years? … What’s going to happen to my liberties if you don’t understand what it is?”

The Arizona Education Association, ProgressNow Arizona and Democratic state Sen. Martin Quezada said Wednesday they will deliver more than 1,000 petitions to Senate President Karen Fann, calling on her to condemn Allen and strip her title.

Allen mentioned Quezada in her speech, saying he is opposed to assimilation.

“Allen’s extreme and hateful views make her incapable of serving Arizona’s diverse student population,” organizers said in a press release.

Allen responded to the Phoenix New Times article that included audio of her speech Friday, saying her statements were misinterpreted.

“My reference to South America was the concern that some of these countries are socialist and that we must preserve our Constitutional Republic form of government and that we have not taught the next generation the difference,” she said in a statement.

She apologized to “anyone who has been hurt by my words.”

Gov. Ducey told reporters Tuesday that Allen is not the same as former state Rep. David Stringer, who resigned after he made controversial comments about immigration, among other scandals.

“What I heard Sylvia Allen say the following day was that she had love in her heart for all people, and that she rejected the characterization of those comments, and I’ll take her at her word,” Ducey said.

House Democratic Leader Charlene Fernandez on Monday criticized the state’s Republicans for not speaking out against the comments.

Wendy Rogers, a Republican running for the state Senate seat now held by Allen, issued a statement Saturday denouncing Allen’s comments as “very racist” and said Allen should retire from the Legislature.

The Associated Press and KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino contributed to this report. 

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