The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors has decided not to appoint a temporary replacement for former Rep. Ben Arredondo, who resigned on Oct. 9 after pleading guilty to federal criminal charges.
The board, which comprises four Republicans and a Democrat, was prepared to select Rep.-elect Juan Mendez to finish the last few weeks of Arredondo’s term in Legislative District 17. But the item was pulled from the board’s Nov. 26 scheduled meeting after Mendez, a Tempe Democrat, had second thoughts, realizing the short-term appointment would be considered a full term under Arizona’s term-limit laws.
Board spokesman Richard de Uriarte said although there were two other nominees for the appointment, the board’s consensus was to pick Mendez, since he won election Nov. 6 to the House in the new Legislative District 26, which includes large parts of LD17.
De Uriarte said the Legislature will save money without the short-term appointee and there is no urgency to choose Arredondo’s replacement since there is no special session.
“You have to wonder what’s the point,” de Uriarte said.
Arizona statutes say the Board of Supervisors “shall” pick a replacement from three nominees, but de Uriarte said there is no time limit.
Rep. Ed Ableser, a Tempe Democrat who has the other LD 17 House seat, said the board is playing partisan politics and refusing to help out a Democratic district.
Ableser said he doesn’t believe the board is trying to save the Legislature money, since it would only be $500 or $600 in salary, and he thinks the board has no idea what a lawmaker does because the job entails much more than voting in session.
He said being a lawmaker is a full-time job and he has had extra work responding to constituents since Arredondo left office.
“It would be great to have a partner in this,” Ableser said.
LD 17 precinct committeemen had chosen the three nominees, which included Kristin Gwinn and Randy Keating, on Oct. 18, but the board waited more than a month to set a meeting to make an appointment because it didn’t want to sway the election.