Cano to Lead House Democratic Caucus, Contreras Asst. Leader, M. Hernandez and Quiñonez Whips
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 10, 2022
PHOENIX, AZ— House Democrats today elected Rep. Andrés Cano of Legislative District 20 in Tucson to lead the Democratic Caucus in the 56th Legislature. The Caucus also elected Representative-elect. and current Senator Lupe Contreras of LD 22 as Assistant Leader and returning Representatives Melody Hernandez of LD 8 and Marcelino Quiñonez of LD 11 as Co-Whips.
"Today we elected quality leaders and look forward to having a dynamic, diverse and unified caucus to defend our public schools, secure our long-term water needs and fight for reproductive and civil rights in the session ahead," Cano said. “We were inspired by our ability to pass a historic bi-partisan budget earlier this year because that's what Arizonans expect—to work together. With so many outstanding new members, we are looking to get past the gridlock and commit to delivering solutions for our constituents."
"We’re going to hit the ground running," Contreras said. "This group has a lot of experience, I have experience from serving in leadership in the Senate for eight years, and we are going to be ready. We are willing to work and talk with everyone, if they are willing to work together, we are willing to work together."
"Our diversity is our strength, and I think our team really represents the people who are both returning and coming in for the first time," Hernandez said. "Everyone on this team is dedicated to making our members feel supported and making sure they have everything they need to be as successful as possible, not just for their district but for all of Arizona."
“This is a cohesive unit that is ready to lead and take the voices of all of our members and lead on behalf of all Arizonans,” Quiñonez said.
Cano was elected to the Arizona House of Representatives in 2019. He was raised by a single mom in in public housing, is a first-generation college graduate, and entered public service as an aide to the late Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias. In 2020, he was named the first director of the LGBTQ+ Alliance Fund at the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona. As one of the youngest members ever when first elected, he continues to pave the way for more young people and millennials to participate and impact public policy.
Contreras served first in the House in 2013 from Avondale, and then served as a Senator from 2015 on. He grew up in Cashion, Arizona. He and his wife have proudly called the West Valley home, along with their six children. Since entering public service, he has become an active member of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO.) In his last year in the Senate, Contreras served as the Assistant Minority Leader.
Melody Hernandez was elected in 2020 serving Tempe. She quickly rose in leadership within her first term becoming the Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee. Hernandez is passionate about criminal justice reform and works full-time as a paramedic. She has taken care of countless gun violence injuries and deaths, and most recently, helped with some of the last abortions before the draconian pre-statehood abortion paused available care. She grew up in the southeast valley to a first-generation Mexican American family and served as the first Latina Democratic Chair for the previous Legislative District 26.
Quiñonez joined the Caucus last session serving south Phoenix and Laveen. He is a first-generation college graduate who continues to provide opportunities to his community through education. An accomplished playwright and actor, Quiñonez also sat on the board of the Roosevelt School District, served as a nonprofit leader at St. Vincent De Paul and most recently the Director of Educational Outreach and Partnerships at ASU.