Republican Nora Ellen, a Chandler City Councilwoman and the mom of Arizona House Speaker J.D. Mesnard, is running for her son’s seat.
Mesnard will reach term limits next year in the House and is running for the Arizona Senate, leaving an open House seat in the East Valley’s Legislative District 17. Senate President Steve Yarbrough is termed out next year and he has no plans to run for another office.
Ellen is serving her second term on the council after she was first elected in 2012. The Chandler City Council limits office-holders to two terms.
She’s also a real estate broker at Revelation Real Estate and has worked in various aspects of real estate and investment for a long time, Ellen said.
She said she has been encouraged to run for the legislature by many people, and the timing is now right, with Mesnard seeking the Senate seat.
“Neither one of us planned ages ago that we would be in politics,” she said, though she added that service to the community is a core family value.
She thinks Mesnard has done “really well” leading the House, noting his inclusion of rank-and-file lawmakers in the budget process and decision-making instead of “coming in as a dictator.”
On her website, Ellen includes Mesnard as an endorsement. She also says the three lawmakers currently serving LD17 (Mesnard, Yarbrough and Rep. Jeff Weninger) are “honorary co-chairs” of her campaign.
But what if the powerful lawmaker who happens to be her son hadn’t endorsed her?
“I would run anyway. We’d probably have a good laugh about it,” she said.
Mesnard said his mom taught him the important of service, and she has her own political following.
“I’m glad she’s not running against me. She’d probably beat me,” Mesnard joked.
If Ellen is elected, it would likely be the first time a mother and son served at the same time. Democratic Minority Leader Rebecca Rios once served at the same time as her father, Pete Rios.