AZ SOS cancels last minute, but show goes on for Peoria Chamber luncheon

Mayor Cathy Carlat (left) speaks about the Peoria Sunset Lions Club, which received $2,000 raised through ticket sales for the mayor’s State of the City address, March 28. The nonprofit was presented a check at the May Peoria Chamber of Commerce luncheon. Pictured: Ms. Carlat, Peoria Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Guy Erickson, Lions President Rachelle Barrett and Treasurer Carol Siepel. [Independent Newsmedia/Philip Haldiman]
By Philip Haldiman, Independent Newsmedia

When the Arizona Secretary of State cancels last minute, the show must go on — especially if the event takes place in a theater.

Michele Reagan was scheduled to speak at the monthly Peoria Chamber of Commerce luncheon, 11:30 a.m. May 10.

Dozens of dignitaries, chamber members and city workers filled the lobby of Arizona Broadway Theatre that day, not for a musical but to hear Ms. Reagan speak.

Attendees networked and wait staff served lunch for the event. An hour later, as diners finished their meals, Chamber President/CEO Guy Erickson came to the mic and  announced that Ms. Reagan would not speak due to a last minute meeting at the governor’s office.

“I apologize. One would have thought Peoria had more clout than the governor,” Mr. Erickson joked. “But Michele Reagan said she will make it up to us. And we are going to hold her to it. It never hurts to have the secretary of state owe you one.”

Secretary of State spokesman Matt Roberts said Ms. Reagan was pulled into a unplanned meeting by the governor’s staff. The visit will be rescheduled, he said.

“The legislative session is winding down and we sadly got wrapped into the process,” Mr. Roberts stated in an email.

But the show went on and the Peoria Sunset Lions Club was honored with a donation raised from ticket sales of Mayor Cathy Carlat’s State of the City address. The nonprofit was presented with a $2,000 check for their work in Peoria and the surrounding area.

“We are very happy the mayor chose the Lions as her nonprofit for the State of the City. And we’re happy that the Chamber gives back as well,” said Rachelle Barrett, president of the Peoria Sunset Lions Club.

Lions Clubs International has a long history of advocacy for people with disabilities. The group became an advocate for those with vision and hearing impairment after Helen Keller became involved with the international organization nearly 100 years ago. In 1925, she attended the Lions Club International Convention and challenged the Lions to become “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.”

“Helen Keller wanted a public entity in the private sector to take on those with low or no vision,” Ms. Barrett said. “Prior  to that, they were more generally civic minded.”

Now there are 1.4 million members in 210 countries and geographic areas around the globe, according to their website.

The Peoria Sunset Lions have been serving Peoria since 1982.

Ms. Barrett said that in the last school year, the group raised enough money to provide 11,000 eyeglasses to students in need at 13 schools in the Peoria, Deer Valley and Dysart unified school districts.

For the group’s next big project, members will partner with the city of Peoria for its annual Christmas for the Troops holiday donation drive by placing collection boxes at locations around the city, in November and October.


Peoria Sunset Lions Club
To learn more about the Peoria Sunset Lions Club, newcomers are welcome to attend their meetings, which are held twice a month.
What: Peoria Sunset Lions Club
When: Second and fourth Wednesdays of the month.
Where: Brothers Restaurant 8466 West Peoria Ave.
More info: Visit their website,, or their Facebook page,


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