Sen. Linda Lopez has submitted her resignation from the state Senate, effective Jan. 13, the first day of the 2014 legislative session.
Lopez, 65, announced her intention in a resignation letter sent to Senate President Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, on Dec. 31, a copy of which was obtained by the Arizona Capitol Times. The letter was forwarded to the Secretary of State’s office on the same day.
“It has been an exciting and, yes, sometimes frustrating 13 years,” Lopez wrote. “So it is with some sadness that I say farewell to the Senate but I leave with a great sense of excitement and joy as I am doing what is near and dear to me – helping children and families.”
The Tucson Democrat’s intentions to resign have been known for weeks. She announced in December she’d leave the Capitol, more than a month after denying she’d resign her post after accepting a position with the Easter Seals Blake Foundation.
At the time she accepted the new job in October, Lopez insisted she would remain in the Senate, though she resigned from her leadership position as assistant Senate minority leader.
Lopez’s chosen resignation date will leave Senate Democrats down a vote at the outset of the legislative session. Precinct committeemen from Legislative District 2 – who must also live in Pima County, Lopez’s county of residence – will have five days to nominate three candidates to replace the outgoing senator. The Pima County Board of Supervisors will appoint one of the three nominees.
Lopez’s decision to delay her resignation to pad her retirement benefits drew criticism from colleagues. The senator told reporters she was waiting to gain a thirteenth full year of service at the Legislature.
Bad blood remains between Lopez and Senate Democrats who used Lopez’s resignation from her leadership post as an opportunity to oust Sen. Leah Landrum Taylor from the top rank among Senate Democrats.
Lopez took some parting shots at her colleagues in her resignation letter. While praising Biggs for his statesmanship and for his “thoughtful consideration” of Democrats’ ideas, she expressed dismay at her soon-to-be former colleagues and their “diminution of respect for the institution and for other members of the Legislature.”
“I hope that you and others who’ve maintained that important respect and regard for our legislative process and for other members can influence the rest,” she wrote.