Vernon Parker for Governor, and a Political Shakeup?

This last week another name appeared on the gubernatorial radar screen – the Mayor of Paradise Valley, Vernon Parker.

Over the last few years, I’d heard some “interesting” but yet very positive things about Vernon Parker. He  is currently serving as the Mayor of Paradise Valley after being elected by a record breaking number of votes in a community that is predominantly white. His Councilmen peers apparently realized his ability to make things happen and appointed him as Mayor of what is probably the highest income per capita community in the State of Arizona.

But prior to his election to Town Council, not many people know that Vernon has a compelling life story. Parker was raised in a gang and drug-infested neighborhood in Long Beach California where many of his peers never made it out of high school or ended up dead or in a lifestyle of trouble. Young Vernon Parker was able to avoid that typical path but it wasn’t without a lot of sacrifice and determination. After graduating from the same high school portrayed in the movie Freedom Writers, Parker went on to college at California State Long Beach and ultimately, to law school at Georgetown University. That’s where he also met his wife, Lisa.

Although Parker has been around the political arena for some time, you wouldn’t know it. He doesn’t match the typical politician whose ego usually overshadows his actions. He’s more interested in getting things done than trying to be somebody bigger than himself. He’s worked in the shadows of conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (prior to his nomination) and he was appointed and unanimously confirmed by the US Senate to the position of Assistant Secretary to the US Department of Agriculture’s Civil Rights Division under President George W. Bush.

In term of his community involvement, Parker has demonstrated that he practices what he preaches. He has served on the boards of several faith-based, service-oriented non-profit organizations including the Salvation Army National Advisory Board, the Greater Phoenix Salvation Army Advisory Board and the Christian Family Care Agency (adoption services). But one thing that most people don’t know about Vernon Parker is that he was a pastor. A few years ago, he was approached by the congregation of Calvary Church of the Valley (Paradise Valley) and asked to serve as interim pastor while the church conducted a search for their permanent pastor. Little did he know that he would end up serving there for over two years. It would become one of the most humbling life experiences he’s had.

Now he’s seriously considering answering a higher secular calling and it’s not because he’s fixated on political power. Vernon Parker strongly believes its time to rebuild the Republican party and return to the principles that attracted so many people like himself. Over the last several months, he’s watched the intra-party budget battle take place as those involved simultaneously position themselves to electorally challenge each other down the road. He believes that the GOP’s budget battle should never have gone this far and that the current Governor is almost entirely to blame. Parker wants to shift the focus back to bringing the party together and unifying behind the principles that made it great in the first place. That means fiscal and cultural responsibility.

On the issues, Parker is both a cultural and fiscal conservative. He opposes raising taxes, supports a balanced budget and believes government should be more efficient with tax dollars. He is pro-life, supports traditional marriage, securing the border and school choice. He proved his conservative credentials on the gubernatorial campaigns of Matt Salmon and Len Munsil.

If Vernon Parker enters the race for Governor, it will likely rock the political establishment. He won’t follow the normal stepping-stone approach to higher office that typifies a Terry Goddard or Dean Martin. Rather, he will follow a similar path that led him out of the childhood ghetto. Already, support for a Parker candidacy is growing and it’s mostly driven by supporters who know Vernon Parker, know his leadership style, know what he’s accomplished. But even more guttural, believe that the traditional politics need to change. They believe Vernon Parker is the one man to do it.

Yes, a Vernon Parker candidacy would shake up the political establishment in Arizona. His entry into the gubernatorial political process would be a fresher and dare I say, unifying approach to prior political campaigns. Can he beat Terry Goddard in a General Election? You bet! Democrats won’t quite know how to handle someone whose life experiences don’t follow the typical political prescription for someone of color or whose family’s legacy entitles them to walk into higher office.  

Republicans may also see his candidacy as a success story in the making and an opportunity to dispel any racial myths or stereotypes oftentimes propogated by liberals. And Vernon Parker may very well be the conservative Republican version of Barack Obama on an ideological scale.

Ultimately, his success story may very well be Arizona’s success story.

Parker is likely to announce his intentions in the weeks ahead but in the meantime, he’s continuing his commitment to the people who elected him in Paradise Valley. Perhaps his faithfulness in little things may ultimately lead to bigger? We may find out very soon.


Additional Information:


  1. It should be added that he’s a McCain man.

  2. Fiscal Conservative says

    Gee, I sure hope he doesn’t run on Clean Elections. That’s what Terry Goddard plans to do and we as Republicans need to stand for something more even with our own party!

  3. I wouldn’t say Vernon is a “McCain man.” He gets along with McCain, as most Republican politicians in Arizona try to do or at least stay out of his way. Vernon Parker is the type of guy who gets along with EVERYONE if you know him, rather than engaging in petty attacks like so many do in the comments on this blog. He may not agree with McCain on everything, being more conservative than McCain, but he’s tried hard to forge decent relationships with everyone so when he does run for a higher office like governor, people like McCain don’t throw their influence into the race helping him lose.

    As for Clean Elections, well, as long as it exists, and it probably will exist for another year unfortunately, it is very difficult to run against an incumbent who is using it. It is sort of like writing off tax credits on your income taxes – you may not agree with the income tax, but as long as you are getting screwed without participating in it, you may as well use it to your advantage. It is VERY difficult to raise enough money for a statewide race, which is why Clean Elections was implemented in the first place.

    Dean Martin is in a bad position now, being part of the lawsuit against Clean Elections, he would really look like a hypocrite if he ran using Clean Elections. So he’s going to have a very difficult uphill battle for governor trying to raise enough money. It’s unfortunate but true, he’s boxed himself in unrealistically. It’s good to have principles like that, but it will probably prevent him from winning.

  4. GOP:

    False. Parker is a McCain man. I’m glad to hear he gets along with everybody, but full disclosure and honesty is important. He is a McCain man and some of the people pushing him are hired McCain hacks.

    Let’s just be honest and go from there.

  5. It’s weird for someone on the other political side to see that in Arizona being “a McCain man” sounds like an insult to some Republicans.

    The only thing I know about this man is what you’ve written here. He sounds like he would be an interesting candidate that would make it harder for Democrats to run their usual kind of campaign.

  6. Observer,

    As a point of clarification, what is your definition of a “McCain man?”

    I was a “McCain man” after he won the Republican nomination last election but as you probably remember, I was also one of his biggest critics before he won that nomination.

    How is being a “McCain man” relevant to Vernon Parker? Based on his involvement with Len Munsil, Matt Salmon and even George W. Bush, that also makes him a “Munsil-Salmon-Bush man” too!

    But I think I’d best describe him as “his own man.”

  7. Bingo Henry says

    Parker may be known in Phoenix metro, but could he really win the rest of the state? And what IDEAS does he really have? Really. Has anyone heard his vision for the future? He’s a great guy, but we need leadership. There’s a big difference.

  8. Parker Fan says

    Republican primary voters should ask themselves two question.

    1) Who can beat Terry Goddard in a general?
    2) Does this person share my conservative values?

    The answer to question 1 is clearly Vernon Parker. No one else in the field so far can do that. Brewer has zero chance to improve her standing with voters.

    The answer to question 2 is yes. Vernon Parker is conservative on fiscal and social issues.

    He may not be a perfect candidate, but those don’t exist. However, he is a very good potential candidate.

  9. Fiscal Conservative says

    I agree with Bingo. Yes Parker is a great man and gets along with everyone but does that equal leadership or just a popular networker? Just because he is friendly does that mean he should be the executive of the state? No. I am a good networker and have lots of friends on both sides, so does that mean I should run?

    We need real ideas, a good overall vision and obtainable solutions. We also need someone willing to do the work and not just seek out the Governor’s position to prep them for their next political office.

    As for GOP’s comment (#3) – I don’t understand how or why you would compare Clean Elections to writing off tax credits on your income tax. Clean Elections is basically public welfare for politicians and when I mean public it is coming straight from the public’s money. We are forced to support candidates that we wouldn’t even vote for.

    As for it being difficult to raise money as a candidate, maybe they should take a hard look in the mirror and realize if they can’t get the backing and financial support they really have no business running for office. Donors will come to the plate for a real leader but they are not going to throw money at just any elected official who feels entitled to a higher position.

  10. I think the GOP should have a closed pre-primary to choose two out of our field. Then we would not be subject to people throwing their vote away on fringe candidates, and would force the GOP to make a clear, practical choice.

  11. A “McCain man” for example had elected officials from outside of Arizona doing autodialers on his behalf into his precinct to support him as precinct committeeman using John McCains phone list.

    A McCain man, for example, has Travis Junion and Sheree Verdone helping them out.

    These are the sure signs of a McCain man.
    He has both of these sure signs.

  12. Oberserve, I dislike McCain, but just because Vernon chooses to get along with him rather than sit around attacking people who get along with him like you do, doesn’t make him a bad candidate or someone who is going to follow McCain on the issues he leans liberal on, like illegal immigration. Vernon’s position is tough on illegal immigration and referring to him as a McCain man isn’t going to change that. We know where he stands on the issues and has the best chance of winniing.

  13. Getting along with him, Jerry, is far different than McCains phone list being used by out of state elected politicians calling into your precinct to help you get elected as PC.

    Someone owes someone something.

    Furthermore, having the liks of Verdone and Junion on your side speaks volumes regarding your character and it aint good.

  14. Antifederalist says

    Forget a pre-primary, Arizona should move to a caucus system like Virginia has. Party members should nominate our parties’ leaders at a convention. This would place the financial burden of primary elections on the parties and not the taxpayers. It would also prevent the dabbling in party nominations we see today with open primaries.

  15. Observe:

    Verdone is clearly a Munger person, and would oppose Parker’s election. Anybody who is remotely involved in politics in AZ knows that.

    On a different front I am glad to see somebody looking at this race who’s name is NOT Jan “Tax Hike” Brewer. We need the big dogs in the party to tell her not to run and let somebody with fresh ideas like Parker have a shot.

    I can tell all of you one thing with certainty, if Brewer is our nominee than Goddard will be our governor.

  16. Do it Vernon!

  17. Ober/Unter/Alter/whatever Serve,

    Better a McCain man than a Dem lackey and troll.

  18. Wow, while I should learn to not be surprised by the visciousness of this website when it comes to attacking fellow Republicans, I am absolutely amazed that Dean Martin is already being thrown under the bus. Notwithstanding his recent personal tragedy, what exactly has Dean done to warrant comparison to Terry Goddard? Beat an incumbent State Senator and get elected to office in his 20’s? Win a Statewide Election? Support the social concerns of groups like Center for Arizona Policy? Yeah, I guess that’s not good enough for the GOP jury on this site.

  19. Ryan Williams says

    Thank you DSW for your question. There were more than 59 million other “McCain men” and “McCain women” who turned up to vote last fall. Let’s build up our GOP, not tear eachother down.

  20. Parker Fan says

    I don’t think most people who read this blog think poorly of Martin. In fact, there is a lot to like.

    But, can he beat Terry Goddard? I am pretty sure he can’t. That is the fundamental consideration for primary voters. Dean is likeable and fairly smart, but he needs a lot more seasoning before stepping onto the big stage.

  21. Parker Fan brings up a good point. The specific race is not the issue, it is the process of sifting to come out with the most qualified candidate. So often the focus is on the negatives and not the positives. There must be a consideration of whose has the greater strengths not who is the least weak.

    That consideration need not include demeaning or casting ill-will toward anyone.

  22. Republican SOS says
  23. I actually did write a positive piece on Dean Martin and why he would be a formidible candidate. I would like to see all our Republican candidates premiered here on Sonoran Alliance in a postive light. Then we can all decide who has the longer list of positives to support.

  24. Excellent, I can’t wait to see SA do positive pieces on Governor Jan Brewer and John Munger.

  25. Horst Kraus says

    It is not Ober/Unter/Alter it more like

    “Oh what a wicked web she weaves when first she practices to deceive.”

    borrowed from Walter Scott

  26. kralmajales says

    Ive never heard of Vernon Parker. There will be time to get to know him. What I can’t wait to see is just how viscious the GOP primary is going to be. If Thomas gets in the race, I am betting the blood will spill in the streets.

  27. Veritas Vincit says

    2 fiscal conservative: “… if they can’t get the backing and financial support they really have no business running for office.”

    So you support special interests buying politicians?

    Clean Elections may not be perfect, but it does allow good people to truly consider running for office.

    fiscal conservative: “…Donors will come to the plate for a real leader”

    No, this thinking only maintains the good-ole boy back room party politics and discourages new voices from entering the arena of public ideas.

    Karama, how good to see you again… Goddard is a hack like the finest. Call the AG’s Consumer 800# and listen to his shameless use of his office for political gain. Its disgusting. He hasn’t tackled any of Arizona’s major issues as AG. Rather he “cleared” any cases that came his way with Janet. Folks close to the 9th Floor during her tenure know this.

    As for this guy for governor? no chance.

    I met Richard Graham recently. All of you should spend some time with him. Very real candidate for the office.

    Short of that? Veritas supports Dean.

  28. Fiscal Conservative says

    Veritas Vincit:
    You contradict yourself. How are career politicians not part of the “good-ole-boy back room”???

    Funny how you say we need new voices, yet your token choice is Dean Martin who will have the same repetiive rethoric as all the other career politicans. Good choice for a “new voice” – NOT.

  29. Horst, your underpants are showing. You claim I “deceive”, yet you defend this guy and his deceptions?

    That’s pretty dishonest!

  30. Bingo Henry says

    Clean Elections is just professional politicians building themselves an empire so they don’t have to fundraise, i.e. actually have to sell their ideas to a lot of people. Election laws are so strict now that big donors can’t donate big, so you have to get a lot of support from a lot of people in order to raise enough money to be competitive. That, my friends, means a competitive race and politicians who actually have to work for it. Sounds like capitalism and free speech at its best. Let the man with the best ideas – not tax dollars — win.

  31. Brad Stevens says

    Vernon Parker is not a real conservative, he’s a political opportunist.

    The fact that he used his race to get a preferential million-dollar government grant “set aside” for his business is disgusting, and not the mark of someone who believes in conservative values.

    When are Republicans going to stop thinking that by nominating black candidates the Left is going to stop calling us racists, or that blacks are going to automatically start voting Republican?

    Conservatives need to promote quality candidates and start ignoring skin color.

  32. Part of the Jason Rose camp…ick


  1. […] But prior to his election to Town Council, not many people know that Vernon has a compelling life story. Parker was raised in a gang and drug-infested neighborhood in Long Beach California where many of his peers never made it out of high school or ended up dead or in a lifestyle of trouble. Young Vernon Parker was able to avoid that typical path but it wasn’t without a lot of sacrifice and determination. After graduating from the same high school portrayed in the movie Freedom Writers, Parker went on to college at California State Long Beach and ultimately, to law school at Georgetown University. That’s where he also met his wife, Lisa. – Sonoran Alliance (8/26/2009). […]

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