By Daniel Stefanski |
The animosity and distrust between the Maricopa Board of Supervisors and the Republican-led Arizona Legislature continues to deepen with a new issue finding a wedge between the two sides.
On Wednesday, Arizona Senator J.D. Mesnard took to the floor of his chamber to address the Maricopa County Supervisors’ ongoing consideration of two legislative vacancies in both the House and the Senate.
One of the vacancies is due to an expulsion of a Republican member of the Arizona House of Representatives. The other for a resignation of a Democrat member of the State Senate.
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is statutorily required by law to select the replacement for the vacancy from a pool of three same-party nominees chosen by their party. Republican precinct committeemen transmitted three names for the open House seat (Liz Harris, Julie Willoughby, and Steve Steele) as did the Democrats for the Senate seat (Representatives Cesar Aguilar and Flavio Bravio in addition to Quant’a Crews).
Mesnard’s frustrations boiled over on the Senate floor as he laid out his charge against the Supervisors’ alleged delay in filling the two vacancies for 19 (Senate) and 20 (House) days. He informed his colleagues “the length of these vacancies is the longest, while we’ve been in session, in a half a century – 56 years!” The East Valley lawmaker also said that 8.76 days is the historical average to fill the vacancy.
What seemed to bring Senator Mesnard to this point were some of the rumors he recounted hearing about for the reasons in the delay to fulfill the vacancies. According to the senator, “one of the rumors is there may be a belief that the county can reject all three of the nominees put forward.” The other rumor “is that (the supervisors) just want to sit on this for a while and hold out for some piece of legislation that they want to see passed” – in other words, “leverage” on the Arizona Legislature.
Senator Mesnard spoke on behalf of the 120 Republican precinct committeemen who rearranged their schedule back in April to nominate the three individuals to fill the open House seat. He bemoaned the fact that such a lengthy delay was not previously an issue, and he hinted that maybe his colleagues should take future action to change the statute to force the county board of supervisors to act with more urgency when filling vacancies during a legislative session. He stated that the “Board of Supervisors should have held a special meeting to hasten what should be an important priority for them.”
The members of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors were definitely paying attention to Senator Mesnard’s words. Supervisor Steve Gallardo quickly responded on Twitter, writing, “Thanks for taking us all the way back to the 70s Senator. We didn’t receive nominees until the 4/18. Some didn’t respond right away to request for background info. Board is performing due diligence. As always, Arizona Senate Republicans are ignoring the facts.”
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.