Daria Ovide moved to Arizona from the East Coast with a single mission: take down Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The long-time Phoenix sheriff has been heavily criticized for his harsh policies toward illegal immigrants, treatment of inmates, and his investigation of President Obama's birth certificate.
Earlier this year, the organizing group PAZ en Accion and the hospitality workers' union, Unite Here, collaborated to launch the Campaign for Arizona's Future, an effort to unseat Arpaio. Daria and like-minded organizers have dedicated themselves to the Campaign for Arizona's Future and have vowed to defeat Arpaio and his anti-immigrant policies.
Despite winning reelection in November, Arpaio's controversial policies and firebrand style have helped give birth to one of the largest progressive grassroots networks in the nation. Daria, who manages communications for the Campaign for Arizona's Future, started the Adios Arpaio nation to coordinate the campaign's online communication efforts.
Taking on an official with a reputation like Arpaio's is no easy task. "The twin facts of a twenty-year sheriff with basically unlimited power and a very frightened community are a real challenge," said Daria. "You have to convince people that action can create change." And through the power of community organizing, Daria and her allies have done just that.
Like most first-time nation builders, Daria was impressed by the platform's user-friendliness. Unlike other organizing software that took her years to master, Daria was able to use NationBuilder for collaborative work right away. "NationBuilder was much easier for people to use. We were able to have multiple administrators and have people from around the country jump in and spot-check."
As a movement fueled by the work of teenagers, NationBuilder's text messaging was essential to the success of the Campaign for Arizona's Future. "One feature that we absolutely loved was the text-in feature," said Daria. "It was really the easiest way for people to get involved and stay in the loop. At this point we have more text opt-ins than email opt-ins." Beyond opt-ins, NationBuilder's text messaging features include the ability to conduct A/B testing and send links to YouTube videos.
Even though Joe Arpaio managed to cling to his post, the Campaign for Arizona's Future has had a major impact on the future of the state's politics. “This was never envisioned as a political campaign only, but rather as part of a broader movement, and these young people really get that and are the base for that broader movement," Daria says.
The Campaign for Arizona's Future has plans to leverage the grassroots infrastructure it has built to influence other local and state campaigns in the coming years as well as to lobby Arizona legislators to respect the rights of workers and other underrepresented groups. Daria believes that combined with the state's changing demographics, this grassroots network will eventually turn conservative Arizona purple, and eventually, blue.
"The goal is to build power for working people in Arizona. Our politics don’t match our demographics in any way, shape or form, to the detriment of us all. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It’s about building power with people, having hundreds and hundreds of people who are ready to take on the next fight and who understand the choices involved in leading a movement.”