A year long job interview for Tempe City Council

Aliyah Chavez

Tempe voters will vote on candidate Doreen Garlid for the city council #NativeVote20

Doreen Garlid remembers knocking on the door of a man named Stan. With a big smile, he immediately recognized her.

“I know who you are. I voted for you. You’re Native,” Garlid remembers Stan saying. “‘Because of you I’ve got somebody that I can be proud of and cheer on.’”

This is how Garlid campaigns for a spot on the Tempe city council. 

This campaign has been a year long job interview for the Navajo Nation citizen as she runs for an open seat on the council. And if she wins, she will be the first Native person to serve on the city council in Tempe’s 150 year history

Garlid's campaign signs can be found around Tempe, Arizona. The city is home to approximately 190,000 people. (Photo by Aliyah Chavez)

Her path to this campaign was spurred by years of volunteer experience in the Tempe community. She was previously a coordinator for international medical mission trips, a Girl Scout Leader, a member of the Kiwanis Club and Human Rights Campaign Arizona.

She is also a graduate of Tempe Leadership, a program designed to develop, educate and empower individuals to make an impact in their community.

“I realized that with all the volunteer and leadership experience that I've had over the last 30 years, I could take all of that with me and help to make Tempe even better than it is,” Garlid said.

So she decided to throw her name in the race.

There are five candidates running for three open seats. 

(Related: The math. 15 percent. And why tonight's election is a bid deal for delegate allocation)

Nancy Puffer is the manager of Garlid's campaign. The duo sits at a table discussing routes to canvass at. (Photo by Aliyah Chavez)

Garlid says one the best parts of her campaign has been sharing the experience with others. Her campaign team is made up of 12 people, mostly women. Together, they organize volunteers to knock on doors, call homes and hand out flyers.

“We usually get our most volunteers on the days we make fry bread tacos,” Garlid says laughing. “My extended family members come to help cook and we just laugh, eat and then go out and canvass for three to four hours.”

Campaigning, she says, reminds her a lot of how she was raised.

“Native people are so strong with supporting one another through family and extended family,” Garlid said. “My campaign team is the same way. We love each other and we care about each other so it is carrying on those same teachings."

Garlid’s campaign team has knocked on more than 13,000 doors in Tempe. In the first reporting period of her campaign, she was the top fundraiser of all of the candidates. Her team raised more than $26,000.

Garlid holds a campaign flyer her team printed. "Authentic leadership with a heart for service," the flyer reads. (Photo by Aliyah Chavez)

This year, Garlid was the recipient of the City of Tempe’s 2020 MLK diversity award community talks that she regularly hosts.

For the last 45 years, Garlid has organized and given free community presentations called, “My Mother’s Navajo Stories.” They include a slideshow presentation where she shares her family’s story to highlight often ignored histories of the Navajo people. Garlid says these presentations help her audience find “a new appreciation for the Indigenous people of Arizona.”

“I wish my parents were still alive to see this, to see how far we have come and how many people we've touched,” Garlid said. “They would just be bursting with pride.”

An issue particularly important to Garlid is combatting homelessness in Tempe. She says she recently partook in a county lead initiative to visit with homeless people and learn more about their situations.

Garlid says in four hours of this work, she counted 32 people who were homeless. Only one of them wanted to be on the street, she said.

If elected, Garlid says she will work to expand a pre-existing program in Tempe that houses the homeless and then gives them a job working with the city.

“All of this has been an incredible experience,” Garlid said. “Both with the people that I've met and the relationships that I've built. Win, lose or draw, I am thankful.”

Like meeting Stan. Not long after their conversation, Stan took a yard sign, and planted it in his front yard.

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Aliyah Chavez, Kewa Pueblo, is a reporter-producer at Indian Country Today's Phoenix Bureau. Follow her on Twitter: @aliyahjchavez or email her at achavez@indiancountrytoday.com

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Comments (1)
No. 1-1

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