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  • Writer's pictureArizona House Democrats

PRESS RELEASE: New Democratic Leadership


June 21, 2023

PHOENIX, AZ— House Democrats today elected Rep. Lupe Contreras of Avondale to serve as Leader of the 29-member caucus. Contreras had been serving as Assistant Democratic Leader until Leader Andrés Cano stepped down recently in preparation for graduate school. Two first-year Representatives have also been elected to the Leadership team with Oscar De Los Santos of Phoenix as Assistant Leader and Nancy Gutierrez of Tucson as Whip. Representative Melody Hernandez of Tempe remains as Whip.

Leader Lupe Contreras served first in the House in 2013, and then served as a Senator from 2015 until his election again to the House in 2022 to serve District 22. 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 years at the Legislature, Contreras has consistently been a Caucus leader, serving as the Assistant Democratic Leader in both the Senate and the House.

Assistant Leader Oscar De Los Santos was elected in 2022 to represent the people of District 11 in the Arizona House of Representatives. A Rhodes Scholar and former public-school teacher in South Phoenix, he was born to working-class immigrant parents. Before working on public policy in Arizona, he served in the Obama White House. De Los Santos holds a master's degree in Christian Ethics from Union Theological Seminary and a Master of Public Policy from the University of Oxford. A tireless protector of Arizona’s constitution and democracy, he serves on the Municipal Oversight & Elections Committee, as well as Natural Resources, Energy & Water.

Whip Nancy Gutierrez was elected in 2022 to serve District 18 in Tucson. She is a lifelong teacher who started her career in Phoenix in 1994 and moved to Tucson in 2007 where she and her husband are raising two girls. Gutierrez has since taught preschool, elementary, high school, community college mathematics, and is currently a yoga teacher at Tucson High School. As part of the Democratic Teacher Caucus, Gutierrez is a determined public school advocate and serves as Ranking Member of Regulatory Affairs and on the Education Committee.

Whip Melody Hernandez was elected in 2020 to serve District 8 in 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 volunteered in a reproductive healthcare clinic. 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.


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