Teller leaves Legislature to join Biden administration

Teller leaves Legislature to join Biden administration

Arlando Teller
Arlando Teller

Rep. Arlando Teller, D-Chinle, has left the Legislature to take a job with the Biden administration.

Teller’s resignation took effect Sunday, according to a letter he sent to Speaker Rusty Bowers, R-Mesa.

“I am honored and humbled to have been selected by President Biden to work for his administration,” Teller wrote. “I look forward to continuing my public service in this new role and am grateful for your sincere support and guidance during my time at the House.”

Teller said he has been named Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tribal Affairs for the U.S. Department of Transportation. He briefly spoke on the House floor Monday to say goodbye to his former colleagues, talking about his own and his mother’s close relationships with some of them. 

“It has been nothing but a pleasure, a sincere pleasure working with all of you,” he said. “Despite our disagreements, despite our party affiliations, at the end of the day we have worked for our communities we represent.” 

Teller worked in management for the Navajo Nation Division of Transportation before he first ran for the House in 2018, rising to the rank of deputy division director. He said he will be working remotely out of Arizona for the time being, either out of his home in Chinle or in Phoenix, but expects to move to Washington D.C. in April or May. He said his job will be to voice tribal transportation needs at the U.S. Department of Transportation, giving as an example the many tribal school bus routes that operate on dirt roads and affect children’s education.

“This administration has elevated tribal concerns in an unprecedented time, so I am going to be serving a wonderful administration with a fantastic Department of Transportation secretary, Mr. Pete Buttigieg,” Teller said.

Teller represented Legislative District 7, a sprawling rural district that takes in much of the state’s northern and eastern borders and includes all or part of the Hopi, Hualapai, Fort Apache and San Carlos reservations, as well as the Arizona portion of the Navajo Nation, of which Teller is a member.

The Apache County Board of Supervisors has seven business days from the vacancy to name a citizens’ committee to recommend three people to replace Teller. The committee has five business days to make its recommendations, after which supervisors will pick one of the three, who has to be a Democrat like Teller. House Minority Leader Reginald Bolding, D-Laveen, said he hopes a replacement is named by the end of next week.

“Mr. Teller has done a great job of representing the constituents of Legislative District 7 and really making sure the tribal voice is heard,” Bolding said.

Rep. Charlene Fernandez, D-Tucson, will replace him on the Transportation Committee, Rep. Domingo DeGrazia, D-Tucson, on the Land, Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.