The appointment of former Pinal County Supervisor Bryan Martyn as the new State Parks director has come under scrutiny after records show he was one of the least qualified candidates for the job.
Martyn beat out 201 other applicants even though he had neither experience in state parks management nor the preferred college degree for the $129,500-a-year position, according to The Arizona Republic.
A state Department of Administration official screening the applicants questioned whether Martyn met three other major requirements. Records indicate he definitively met only two of the seven qualifications for parks director.
Martyn acknowledged he didn’t meet all the qualifications but said he convinced the seven-member Arizona State Parks board that his political connections could help the financially struggling agency.
“I knew the funding issues that were going on with the parks, and I knew they needed somebody who knew the Legislature, who knew the governor and who knew county supervisors,” Martyn told the Republic. “I got all that. I’m qualified for that. That is the position I took, the tack I took going into this.”
Martyn didn’t immediately return calls Thursday from The Associated Press.
The Republic said records it obtained show Martyn didn’t have at least two of the seven required qualifications: 10 years of experience running a parks system and a bachelor’s degree in park management or a related field.
The board unanimously voted to hire him April 18. Martyn started his new job May 1, managing 216 employees, a $19.5 million budget and 27 state parks.
Martyn’s hiring, which was approved by Gov. Jan Brewer, has raised eyebrows among those closely following a more than two-year battle over a proposed underground copper mine in Pinal County.
Brewer and Martyn both are Republicans and both are strong supporters of the planned mine, saying it will bring high-paying jobs to a depressed community.
Critics of the Florence Copper Project claim it will pollute the town’s underground water supply and discourage future residential development because of its proximity to planned housing projects.
Florence Vice Mayor Tom Smith, who supported Martyn’s 2008 election as a county supervisor, is among the mine’s critics. “I would like to think they picked him for the job because they picked the best man,” Smith said about Martyn becoming state parks director.
But Martyn’s appointment has bewildered Arizona Democratic Party officials, who call him “under-qualified.” It also bothers former Tennessee Parks Director Michael Carlton, the other applicant to make it to a final interview.
The Republic said Carlton met all seven of the job’s qualifications. He also had 30 years of parks-management experience and his state had been recognized in 2007 for having the top parks system in the country.
“I looked at the minimum qualifications for the job. Would he (Martyn) jump out?” said Carlton, adding that he paid his own way to Phoenix for the interview. “If you were looking for a person who was connected politically, then you should have said that, because that appears what the case was.”
Martyn said he learned of the job opening in January while looking at a hiring website. He said he applied because he wanted to increase his pay to support his family and was willing to give up the remainder of his supervisor’s term to earn more money. Pinal County supervisors are paid $63,800 annually.