The public will finally get its first look at Olivia Cortes on Oct. 6 after the recall election candidate accepted the Mesa Chamber of Commerce's invitation to participate in a public forum.
Cortes, a Republican, had not responded to several inquiries from the chamber and missed the initial deadline to participate, but she informed the group on Wednesday that she would like to take part.
Since taking out the paperwork in July to run as a candidate in the recall election against State Senate President Russell Pearce, Cortes has not made herself available to the media or the public. She has ignored all interview requests and attempts from citizens to speak with her.
Cortes has been accused of being a "sham" candidate aiming to siphon votes away from another Pearce opponent - Republican Jerry Lewis - after it was discovered that several of the people who circulated signature petitions on her behalf were Pearce supporters and even members of Pearce's extended family.
Pearce himself has denied any involvement in Cortes' campaign.
The forum will begin at 5 p.m. Oct. 6 in the Jack E. Shell Auditorium of the East Valley Institute of Technology, 1601 W. Main St. Tickets, which are free, will be required for admission to the forum. Approximately 500 tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis with preference given to Legislative District 18 voters. Ticket requests can be made via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (480) 969-1307, Ext. 16.
EastValleyTribune.com will feature an interactive, live blog of the event.
Pearce is facing a recall organized by voters who say he no longer represents their interests. Pearce has become known nationally for his tough stance on illegal immigration and as the sponsor of SB 1070. He introduced several more immigration bills during the last legislative session that were turned down by the Republican-controlled Legislature, in part due to fears among Arizona businesses that they would further hurt the economy.