Pearce to be challenged by charter school executive

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MESA, Ariz. - A charter school executive from Mesa says he will challenge State Senate President Russell Pearce in a Nov. 8 recall election.

"I believe it's time to restore a style of leadership to Mesa that its residents can be proud of," Jerry Lewis said during his campaign announcement Wednesday morning.

Lewis, a Republican charter school executive says the residents of legislative District 18 want a fresh start that he can offer. He also vowed to keep his campaign positive.

"I will not make any personal attacks against my opponent. He is a member of my community and a friend," said Lewis. "Our shared faith teaches us to treat others with respect and kindness."

Both Pearce and Lewis are members of the LDS Church in Mesa.

Lewis says that if elected his top priorities would be education and the state's economy.

At an event to promote funding for border security last week Pearce said he had no problem with Lewis running against him.

"I know Jerry Lewis, we have a lot of mutual friends," said Pearce, "His biggest issue is [SB]1070 he supports legal and illegal immigrants while I support immigration but not those who break our laws."

But Lewis' campaign chairman Dea Montague says Lewis supports the enforcement of immigration laws and was in favor of SB-1070.

Pearce has vowed to run a clean campaign. "I'm not here to attack Jerry," he said, "Because good folks can disagree, any married guy knows that."

Lewis is the third candidate to join the race against Pearce. Last week Tommy Cattey, an independent and Mesa audiologist filed papers to run. Cattey says he opposes Pearce's stance on illegal immigration.

Olivia Cortes, a Republican retiree, also filed to run in the election. She says she entered the race to give Hispanic voters and option.

Recall organizers have been critical of Pearce's immigration stances and say he has failed to focus on important issues such as protecting public education and ensuring access to healthcare.

Pearce says he strives to promote schools, economic growth, job creation, balanced budgets, strong law enforcement and secure borders.