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remembering Teofilo ‘Tio’ Tachias, Coconino County’s first Latino Supervisor

A memorial service was held Friday morning at the Catholic Diocese of San Francisco de Assis to honor the life and work of Teofilo “Tio” Takias, who died in July.

Mr. Takias served on the Coconino County Board of Supervisors from 1965 to 1989. He was the first Latino to win a major local election.

When Takias joined the board, there were only three districts. We are five today. The district he represented covered part of former county superintendent Liz Archuleta’s district, which would later become part of the Second District.

Archuleta was the first Latino woman elected to the board of supervisors, following Takias in the 1990s.

“The lobby area of ​​the county board of overseers meeting room is adorned with photographs of all the board members at the time the county became a county. See Tio Takias in many of these photographs. It’s really fun,” Archuleta said. “He served on the Supervisory Board for over 20 years. I have served on the Supervisory Board for over 20 years. It’s really great to see.”

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She described him as an important pioneer. It’s a phrase that other county leaders also use to describe this man many people call “Tio.”

“As the first Latino elected in Coconino County, Tio has been a real inspiration to us as we serve the public to better connect our communities and local governments,” said Vice Chair. Jeronimo Vazquez, current District 2 supervisor, said.

County manager Steve Peru first met Tatias when he was fresh out of college in the 1970s. At the time, Peru was working in what would become the Department of Health and Welfare.

He said both Takias’ position and leadership style made an important and profound impression on him at a young age.

“I think many of us look to leaders for these types of people who have built a tradition of public service. Certainly Tio, I consider him my mentor. He’s someone many of us look at and say, “What’s that?”, regardless of our age group. [success] feel like? What path do I want to follow in relation to the path I have already taken and the legacy that has already been created? said Peru. “Based on the path these people took many years ago, we now have the status and the opportunity.”

With five generations of her family living in Flagstaff, Archuleta first encountered Takias through community and family ties.

“People knew it was Tio Takias when I said ‘Tio.’ He was a public figure, a community celebrity, a community leader. People knew that if you went to him with an idea, he would make things happen,” she said.

She said Takias was always approachable and always showed a sense of responsibility to the community in which she was born.

“Some might be in awe of that level of achievement and that level of leadership in the community. [of him]. At the same time, he was also a member of the community. He was very approachable and deeply involved in various initiatives within the community. I feel like the Latino community really resonated with them,” said Archuleta, whose prolific nickname “Tio” (meaning uncle in Spanish) also makes him seem more relatable. added that it helped

Peru said Mr Takias had a soft demeanor and a calm presence, a trait that served him as an active listener and as a conduit between government conspiracies and the concerns of local residents.

“At the time, one of the things he was very involved with was voting rights and making sure everyone had access to that privilege,” Peru said.

In 2016, Takias was honored by the Arizona State Legislature, acknowledging his achievements in building relationships in Congressional records. It was partly written as follows:[Mr. Tachias] Having developed personal and political relationships with Arizona Governors Castro, Babbitt, Mofford, and Napolitano, he is widely regarded as the person of choice in identifying, registering, and voting for new Navajo voters. His work contributed to countless victories and helped thousands of new voters exercise their right to vote…”

Peru said it was a priority for Tathias to encourage rural people to exercise their right to vote.

“I have very vivid memories of high school. We would come and campaign there, and we would be campaigning near the polling stations,” Archuleta recalled. “I remember he asked me and my sister if he could go help me. Of course, I had to get up at three or four in the morning. We drove to the area, and we campaigned until 7:00 p.m., when the polls closed, and drove back all the way back to prepare for the announcement and celebrate the results. It was a great opportunity to learn.”

She said one of Takias’ strengths is her strategic grassroots organizing, which she said will inspire many future politicians.

“Tio and his good friend and advocate Tony Gabaldon were instrumental in establishing the Democratic Party in Coconino County. I believed in that,” said Patrice Horstmann, Supervisory Board Chairman and District 1 Superintendent. Others can also join our community.

Takias was known for his efforts to inspire and pave the way for young people to climb the ladder of success.

“Tio definitely understood her role and felt a responsibility to foster leadership for others,” Archuleta said.

Peru recalls himself as a “newcomer” to the county, an impression he got from conversations he overheard among leaders like Takias.

“They are important people and I am in awe of the fact that I just graduated from college in this department. I was very impressed when I heard you talk about something,” Peru said.

By observing Takias’ activities, he said, he has learned to consider those most in need of county services and work to ensure that their needs are met.

“My memory of Tio is when members of the board of directors came to the department. My director at the time was Joe Montoya. We were talking about what we could do, especially in less privileged areas and areas far from the county,” Peru said. “Their conversations were always centered around that. It was really important to me.”

As an employee, Peru said he always felt heard from Mr. Takias. That his concerns were heard, and that not only his concerns but those of all who live in this vast and diverse county were heard.

“We should all have the opportunity to feel that we belong where we belong. That was the hallmark of Tio’s work. Is there a

In addition to his work on the Board of Directors, Takias was also a member of the Arizona Board of Trustees.

“As a Latino, I think about the important perspectives that he brings from the multicultural and Latinx communities as a member of the communities in Flagstaff and northern Arizona. It brought perspectives that were representative of the demographics and had the history he experienced in Flagstaff and northern Arizona, all of which were very valuable and important perspectives,” Archuleta said.

Takias was a founding member of the Council for the Coordination of Mexican-American Affairs.

“They were focused on getting people together to celebrate the fact that we have the opportunity to help others here. One was funding and supporting scholarships, some of the work they did,” Peru said. “They were creating opportunities for them to follow their chosen paths without facing the hardships others might otherwise have had to face.”

In 2018, Takias received the Cesar Chavez Diversity Award for “outstanding leadership and diversity in the community.” He will also serve on the National Board of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and the Governor’s Advisory Board on Economic Planning and Development.

“His presence and achievements are certainly historic and I think it will be felt for many years to come,” Archuleta said.

Sierra Ferguson can be reached at

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