When lawmakers return to the Arizona Legislature on June 12, Maricopa County officials hope they will do so with a full House and Senate – which the Legislature hasn’t seen since mid-April.
Vacancies in the House and Senate have caused both Republican and Democratic caucuses to not be at full strength this session. House Republicans were unable to pass many bills on party lines due to the expulsion of former Rep. Liz Harris and Senate Democrats lost their former Minority Leader Raquel Terán when she stepped down from her seat to focus on a Congressional campaign.
Sen. Flavio Bravo, D-Phoenix, was appointed from his House seat to replace Terán on May 8. His former seat has been vacant ever since then, but Maricopa County spokesman Fields Mosely said the Board of Supervisors are planning to appoint Bravo’s replacement before the Legislature convenes on June 12.
County Supervisor Steve Gallardo has interviews with the three candidates nominated by LD26 Democratic precinct committeemen next week, Mosely said. He will consider LD26 Democrats’ Quant’a Crews, as well as Christian Solorio and Veronica Monge.
Crews was nominated for Teran’s seat earlier in the session but was not appointed by the Board of Supervisors. She’s a mother of three and said housing is one of the main issues she plans to tackle as a legislator.
“It has been disastrous watching my neighbors live out of their cars and having neighbors stay with me so their kids can stay in the same school,” Crews said during the LD26 Democrats meeting where nominees were chosen on May 12.
By trade, Crews works as a real estate appraiser and is an associate minister at the Tanner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church. She’s lived in Legislative District 26 for the last six years, is an elected PC and serves as the second vice chair of the precinct.
While she said she’s not a politician, she did run for Phoenix Elementary School District Governing Board in 2020 but wasn’t elected. Education is another priority for Crews as she said she hopes to increase resources and funding for public schools as a legislator.
Solorio is aiming for a second term as a state representative after being appointed to the House in 2021. He lost the Democratic primary for an LD26 House seat in 2022 by more than 300 votes. Solorio brings experience to the table, having served in the Legislature before and living in LD26 for over 25 years.
Like Crews, housing and education are among Solorio’s biggest priorities. Solorio is an Alhambra Elementary School District Governing Board member and was elected to the board in 2019. He also works as an architect and said to LD26 PCs that he pursued that career because he wanted to help vulnerable community members obtain affordable housing.
“Everyone – no matter what your background is – deserves a place to live,” Solorio said. “Housing is a fundamental human right.”
One of the housing bills Solorio sponsored as a legislator was to allow cities to impose rental price caps. He also sponsored legislation that would automatically register people to vote when applying for a driver’s license or renewing one.
Monge is the LD26 Democrats’ treasurer and also an elected precinct committeeman since 2016. Since then, she’s spent her time volunteering with community organizations and serves as a co-chairman of the Arizona Poor People’s Campaign and the president of the Civil Rights Center.
She shared a story with LD26 Democrats the night she was nominated that her husband died in a work accident. When she lost a wrongful death lawsuit against the company he was working for, she lost faith in the U.S. court system and got inspired to help other community members.
Monge said she was mentored by former Phoenix Mayor and Attorney General Terry Goddard. After her husband died, she worked in Goddard’s law office as a secretary for five years and learned about political activism under him. She also founded a campaign group at Arizona State University for Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vermont, in 2015 when he was running for the Democratic presidential nomination.
“I’ve been fighting corruption more than anything else (since working with Goddard),” Monge said on May 12. “Whenever someone is in need here in our community, I stand up for them,” she added.
With the previous two legislative appointments this year, the county supervisor representing the legislative district a vacancy is in has recommended which candidate should get the appointment to the Board of Supervisors, effectively making this decision up to Gallardo.
Gallardo is the only Democrat on the board and said when Rep. Julie Willoughby, R-Chandler, was appointed to replace expelled Rep. Liz Harris that he wouldn’t vote to appoint any of the three candidates LD13 PCs chose for that appointment because none of them expressed confidence that Arizona’s elections are “safe and secure.”
He will likely not have that same problem with the three Democrat nominees sent to him by LD26. When he and the other supervisors appointed Bravo to the Senate, he said he hoped Crews was a candidate for Bravo’s House seat.
Gallardo is also having each candidate answer a questionnaire asking them about their views on the legitimacy of county elections, Fields confirmed. Gallardo sent the same questionnaire to Senate candidates.
Other issues important to Gallardo that he discussed with the Senate candidates included the Prop 400 transportation tax extension and Rio Verde Foothills water situation.