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Opinion: Phoenicians should expect nothing less than fireworks from Carlos García, at least until he finds out that governing isn't the same as protesting.

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Phoenix City Hall hasn’t had anyone quite like Carlos García, not at least anyone in recent history who’s uncompromisingly revolutionary and unwavering in his defense of undocumented immigrants.

The Mexican native, who has made a name for himself protesting the anti-immigrant policies of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio and President Donald Trump, pulled out a razor-thin victory in the May 21 runoff against former Phoenix councilman Mike Johnson.

“We got it! Thank you all!

And just like that – with that simple message posted on Facebook – the ultimate City Hall outsider joins the nine-member council with huge expectations from immigrants and the city’s most progressive residents.

How will he handle African Americans, police?

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Phoenix City Council District 8 candidates Mike Johnson and Carlos Garcia answered three questions in the azcentral newsroom. William Flannigan, azcentral

It’ll be fascinating to watch García navigate Phoenix city government, which oversees the police department that his organization Puente Arizona and others are suing for clearing out an anti-Trump protest last year.

It’ll be fascinating to watch what kind of councilman García will turn out to be. Will he remain the same firebrand who led protesters to chain themselves to the doors of the state’s Capitol, or will he become pragmatic in a divided City Council?

García doesn’t have much time to think about the kind of councilman he’ll be and will have to mold his new political persona on the go. He’ll represent the city’s south side armed with less than 400 votes ahead of Johnson, whose victory would have meant recapturing the district that had long been held by African Americans.

It’s now up to García to reassure African-Americans that he’ll represent their interests as fiercely as he’s expected to defend Latinos who make up the majority of District 8.

Their first test will come soon enough

García will be sworn in along Betty Guardado, the union activist who handily ousted councilwoman Vania Guevara in Tuesday’s runoff in the city’s west side District 5.

Like García and recently elected Mayor Kate Gallego, Guardado is a progressive. She’s the director of organizing and vice president of Unite Here Local 11 and Unite Here International, labor unions representing hospitality workers.

But it isn’t entirely clear either whether Guardado will stick with the progressives on the council or align herself with the three Republicans, Sal DiCiccio, Jim Waring and Thelda Williams.

They’ll face a test soon enough. What’s certain is that García and Guardado bring a different voice to the council – one that truly represents the poorest and most marginalized residents.

Make no mistake. Phoenicians should expect fireworks from Carlos García, who made no qualms about why he sought the council seat in the first place: to give a voice to the most marginalized.

Phoenicians should expect nothing than less than an authentic and powerful community organizer – at least until he finds out that governing isn't quite the same as protesting.

Elvia Díaz is an editorial columnist for The Republic and azcentral. Reach her at 602-444-8606 or elvia.diaz@arizonarepublic.com. Follow her on Twitter, @elviadiaz1.

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