TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Richard Elias, a longtime elected leader and public servant, died Saturday, March 28 in Pima County. He was 61.
Elias, who represented District 5 on the Pima County Board of Supervisors for nearly 20 years, passed away at his home, according to Supervisor Ally Miller and a close friend.
The county issued a statement on Elias’s death:
We announce the passing a friend, husband, and father, Richard Elias, 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.
Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier released a statement about Elias and the professional relationship they shared:
I am shocked and profoundly saddened to learn this morning of the passing of Board of Supervisors Chairman Richard Elias. I knew Richard long before I became Sheriff. We shared a commitment for the south side of our community. We had at times spirited political disagreements, but they were very respectful and we always maintained friendly relations. Chairman Elias was a loyal and dedicated public servant who cared deeply for the community that he served for many years with such great passion. I will miss him.
His biography on the Pima County website shows how distinguished the Democrat was. It reads, in part:
Among numerous honors Richard has earned in recent years are: Public Service Award of the University of Arizona Alumni Association; Arizona Minority Bar Association Community Service Award; Job Path’s Jim Haag Award for Vision, Initiative and Perseverance; Sky Island Alliance Public Service Award; National Latino AIDS Awareness Day Special Recognition Award; Salpointe Catholic High School Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame Award.
Condolences are being shared across social media Saturday. Return to this story for updates.