Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Filling the vacant LD15 state senate seat

Early this evening, a citizen panel selected by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors took a series of votes to compile a list of three names from which one will be appointed to fill the state senate seat vacated last week by Kyrsten Sinema.

Maricopa County Elections Director Karen Osborne facilitated the meeting and oversaw the votes.

Pursuant to Arizona Revised Statutes §41-1202, (and because LD15 Democrats did not have enough elected precinct committeemen as of last August), the Board of Supervisors appointed a 23-member panel to screen candidates and select the three names for official consideration. Osborne said that one of the 23 had moved out of state and was no longer qualified to participate. Another one did not show up for the meeting. That left 21 people eligible to vote. A simple majority therefore was 11 votes.

Six people were nominated. Those making the nominations spoke for up to one minute on the person they proposed adding to the list. Each of the candidates then had five minutes to sell him or herself to the members of the citizen panel.

In order nominated, they were David Lujan, Ken Clark, Bob Rosenberg, Raquel Terán, Sharon Thomas and Luisa Valdez. All six individuals are bright, capable people.

None of the candidates received 11 votes on the first vote (each panelist only voted for one candidate). Beginning with the second vote, the person with the fewest votes was eliminated. Valdez, Rosenberg and Terán were eliminated, in that order, leaving Lujan, Clark and Thomas.

Lujan and Clark have both served in the Arizona House of Representatives. Lujan was the only one of the six who specified in his five minute sales pitch that he would NOT run for re-election in the fall if selected. Clark told me he had the same intention but forgot to mention it. Not that it matters at that stage. It's the Board of Supervisors who would care about that. History suggests that the Republican dominated Maricopa County Board is likely to select a person who would not benefit from incumbency by running in the next election.

Because Republicans in the Arizona Senate already hold a supermajority (21-9, the seat Bundgaard vacated last week must be filled by another Republican), that may or may not be a consideration for selection this time.

What is clear is that all three people up for consideration are well qualified to serve in the senate. Two of the three would have little to no learning curve because of their experience. Sharon Thomas would likely learn pretty fast also. All three are eager to advocate for education. Clark and Thomas have track records of advocating for clean, renewable energy.

In an apparent (oblique) reference to having missed the SB1070 vote, Lujan implored the panelists to consider the entirety of his record, not simply one day.

I'm probably partial to Clark Kent, er, Ken Clark (on Friday's Journalists' Roundtable on Horizon, Luigi Del Puerto, who covers the Arizona Senate for the Capitol Times referred to Mr. Clark as "Clark Kent" in an innocent stumble over his words) because of his work on the Arizona Competitive Districts Coalition. But I think any of the three -- Clark, Lujan or Thomas would do an excellent job representing the voters of LD15.

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