I am a father, husband, community organizer, small business advocate, professional social worker and counselor. I am married to Maricela Robles whom I met in 1994 at a Cesar Chavez mural dedication on the southside of Tucson. She was mentoring a youth group while I was performing with a Chicano street theater troupe. Together, we led a successful movement to implement the Mexican American Studies program at TUSD. We married in 2001 and will be celebrating our 22nd year anniversary this September. We have two amazing boys, a 13 year old and a 7 year old, who are both enrolled in public schools and are thriving.
I have deep roots in the Sonoran Desert. My father was a vaquero from el Rio Sonora. He came to the U.S. as a bracero to work the fields of Arizona and California. I grew up spending my summers working in the fields with my mother, making extra money to help pay for my school clothes. My first job out of high school was on a ranch with my father in Rio Rico, Arizona. After that, I put myself through college working in warehouses, cafes, and restaurants.
I went on to earn a BFA degree from the University of Arizona and later completed several graduate courses at the University in the areas of History and Political Science. For a time, I worked as a substitute teacher in schools throughout Tucson’s south and west sides, I was an administrator for our local community media center, and, for five years, I was the Chief of Staff for Council member, Karin Uhlich. While working with the Ward 3 Office, I oversaw efforts to support local businesses. My work led to the first Mayor and Council proclamation of a Buy Local Day in the nation.
I have worked professionally for the past 30 years as a social worker and counselor in the areas of addiction, gang prevention, and teenage pregnancy prevention. I have also worked with prisoners recovering from addiction within the Pima County Jail, in South Tucson with prevention agencies, and at Access Tucson with youth advocating for media literacy and tobacco prevention.
I am currently the Vice-President of the Ironwood Ridge Neighborhood Association.