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  • Richard Elías, 1958-2020; Board Chairman passes away at 61

    Mar 28, 2020 | Read More News
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    Statement from the Pima County District Five Supervisors office about the passing of Board of Supervisors Chairman Richard Elías this morning: 

    Richard EliasWe announce the passing a friend, husband, and father, Richard Elías, who was chairman of the Pima County Board of Supervisors. He died early today at his midtown home.

    Richard was a lifelong Democrat, a social-justice advocate, and a noted music aficionado who was loved by many of all walks of life. His friends ranged from homeless people and toiling workers to the wealthy and powerful.

    Richard represented Pima County District Five since his appointment to the seat in 2002. He won elections in 2002, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016. Richard had filed for his candidacy for another four-year term last week. He was a fifth generation Tucsonan and a seventh-generation southern Arizonan. He is survived by his wife, Emily, and his daughter, Luz. The family asks for privacy during this time of grief. Services will be announced at a later date.

    Statement from Pima County District 3 Supervisor Sharon Bronson on the passing

    Board Chairman Richard Elías:

    Richard was a friend and colleague who I could always count on. I've known Richard since long before he joined the Board and he was always willing to fight for what he believed in.

    He spent his career working for public housing and it was his passion on the Board. He strongly believed that adequate housing is a human right and that belief informed everything he did as a Supervisor for District 5. Richard and I often agreed, but when we disagreed, he was always respectful, honest and open to compromise. For that and for his friendship I will never forget him. This is a sad day for everyone in Pima County. I will miss him.

    Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry has released the following statement about the passing Board Chairman Richard Elías:

    I was terribly saddened and shocked to learn this afternoon that Pima County Board of Supervisors Chairman Richard Elías passed away at his home today. He was 61.

    Chairman Elías has served on the Pima County Board of Supervisors since 2002. He has been Board Chairman since 2017, his second stint in the Chairman’s seat in his 18 years on the Board.

    Richard was the people’s champion on the Board, and the champion of the rank and file County employees. He always thought of others first, especially the less fortunate, and he worked tirelessly to improve the incomes and living conditions of all Pima County residents, but especially the poor.

    A fifth-generation Tucsonan and the son of a printer and small business owner, Richard seemed to know or have met everyone in this biggest of small towns. He loved Tucson, its people, its climate, its culture and its history.

    And Richard loved Pima County and being able to serve the people of District 5 and of this county on the Board of Supervisors.

    I spoke with Richard nearly every day for nearly 20 years. You get to know someone pretty well when you work with them that closely. We had our agreements and our disagreements, but he was always fair to me and I don’t think a County Administrator could ever ask for more than that from a Supervisor.

    I have been very proud of him over the past several months during the pandemic health crisis. He has kept a level head and has let the science set the policy even though the pressure of the politics of the situation was enormous. That took courage and I will always respect him for that.

    He was a friend, a colleague, a compatriot, an occasional adversary, and a superb supervisor who served his constituents and this county faithfully, earnestly, honestly and always with an ethos familiar to physicians – do no harm.

    I will miss him but by my grief, and I hope the grief of all the members of his family and his friends, will be lessened somewhat in the knowledge that Richard Elías was a good man who lived a good life.