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Arizona Corporation Commission elects new department chair

Lea Marquez Peterson at the inauguration of Gov. Doug Ducey on Jan. 7, 2019.

Lea Marquez Peterson at the inauguration of Gov. Doug Ducey on Jan. 7, 2019.

The Arizona Corporation Commission has voted to elect Republican Lea Márquez Peterson to serve as chair of the state body that sets rates and policies for utilities.

Márquez Peterson bested Republican Justin Olson for the top position during a ceremony to swear in newly elected members of the five-person commission, The Arizona Republic reported Monday. She will replace former Republican Chairman Robert Burns, who completed his term and attended his final meeting.

Márquez Peterson took her oath on Monday after winning one of the three seats on the November ballot to serve a full four-year term. Democrat Anna Tovar and Republican Jim O’Connor were also sworn in.

Márquez Peterson can now influence the tone and direction of the regulatory body by running meetings and setting agendas as chairperson. The commission regulates electric, gas and water utilities in the state and oversees pipeline safety, railroad crossings and securities issues.

The commissioners elect their chairperson, which is often given to the longest-serving member of the majority party. Republican Gov. Doug Ducey appointed Olson in 2017 and Márquez Peterson in 2019.

O’Connor had argued Olson would be a more appropriate chairperson because he had served longer and made his own motion to give the seat Olson. Márquez Peterson voted with Tovar and Sandra Kennedy to seat herself as chair.

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