Monday, November 26, 2012

Maricopa County Board of Supervisors disenfranchising part of their own county

When Ben Arredondo (D-LD17) resigned from the Arizona House of Representatives, it created a vacancy in the legislature, leaving a district, part of Maricopa County, under-represented.

There is a specific series of steps to be followed to fill that vacancy.

Basically, once notified of the vacancy, the elected precinct committeemen of the same party and district as the person who vacated the legislative office meet, and nominate three persons to fill the seat.  The names are then forwarded to the board of supervisors of the applicable county (in the case of Arredondo's Tempe/South Scottsdale district, Maricopa County), and the supes appoint one of the three to fill the seat.

In the case of the vacancy in LD17, everyone has done their part...except for the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, who are now refusing to make any appointment at all.  There was a rumor that there was going to be an appointment on the agenda of Monday's meeting of the MCBOS, but that didn't happen, nor is such an item on the agenda for the Wednesday meeting.

Now, state law seems to be pretty clear, once the other steps have been followed, the supes *must* appoint someone to fill the seat.  From ARS 41 - 1202 (linked above to "steps") (emphasis mine)-

4. The state party chairman of the appropriate political party shall forward the names of the three persons named pursuant to paragraph 2 of this subsection to the board of supervisors of the county of residence of the person elected or appointed to the office immediately before the vacancy occurred. The board of supervisors shall appoint a person from the three nominees submitted.

I've heard a few different speculations about the motivation behind the supes' refusal to follow the law here -

- It's a Democratic-controlled seat, and the Republicans on the board are simply playing partisan games.

- Two of the Republicans on the MCBOS are lame ducks, so they know if the Board's failure to do its duty comes back to bite them in the ass, it won't impact them - they're gone anyway.

- A few people have pointed out that the appointment of Juan Mendez, who recently won election to the AZ House from the new LD26, would highlight the fact that for the purpose of term limits, even a partial term counts as a full term.  Something that the Rs may not want highlighted as long an Jan Brewer is trying to argue that she can run for another term as governor, even though the law says that she cannot because of the partial term she held after Janet Napolitano left AZ behind for D.C.

Whether the motivation is one of the above reasons, or is another entirely (though I admit, I'm leaning toward partisan gamesmanship, but I'm a cynic), I have to ask -

What's the hang-up?  This isn't theoretical physics.  It's not difficult.  Get it done.

The people of LD17 want a representative.  The people of LD17 need a representative.  And state law requires that the MCBOS appoint a representative from the list of nominees given to them.

Imagine the uproar if a Democratic-controlled board of supes, say in Pima County, refused to fill a lege seat held by a Republican.  There would outraged calls to mobilize the Arizona National Guard governor's personal vigilante force to invade the offending county and force them to appoint a Republican.

People beyond the list of nominees are watching this all play out (or not) and are voicing their opinions of what is going on, and the most charitable description that I've heard is "frustrating" because not only are the supes not doing their job, they've been sending mixed signals, saying (through surrogates like staffers) that an appointment will be made, and then it won't be, and then it will be, and then it won't be, and so on.

Contact the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and urge them to do their job and appoint someone to represent part of their county at the state legislature.

Steve at The Arizona Eagletarian has more coverage of this here.

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