Maricopa County Board Of Supervisors Picks Nardozzi To Fill LD8 Senate Seat

Maricopa County Board Of Supervisors Picks Nardozzi To Fill LD8 Senate Seat

By Daniel Stefanski |

The Arizona House of Representatives has a new member.

On Wednesday, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors selected Deborah Nardozzi for the vacancy in the State House for Legislative District 8. Nardozzi was the second appointment in the district this year from the Board after two resignations.

“Arizona law requires us to appoint a person from the same political party as the person who previously vacated the office. We did so today,” said Vice Chairman Thomas Galvin. “I wish Deborah Nardozzi well in her endeavor to represent Legislative District 8 at the State Capitol.”

In a statement following her appointment from the Board, Nardozzi said, “It is an honor to be chosen as the next Representative for Arizona Legislative District 8, and I am committed to serving our community with integrity and an unwavering dedication to advocating for the needs of our constituents.”

Previously, Nardozzi served as the Democrats’ Chair for Legislative District 24, and she has been a small business owner for 15 years.

State Representative Lupe Contreras, the House Democratic Leader, added, “Deborah Nardozzi has been committed to the success of other Democratic candidates and issues for several years, in addition to her impressive small business career. Now we are thrilled to have her deep well of experience as part of our team for the remainder of the year, and for a very important part of our session. Our caucus is 29 strong as we head into budget negotiations that will impact the lives of everyone in our state.”

Representative Nardozzi was sworn into the Arizona House of Representatives on Thursday.

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

Maricopa County In Search Of New Sheriff Following Penzone Resignation

Maricopa County In Search Of New Sheriff Following Penzone Resignation

By Corinne Murdock |

Maricopa County is in search of a new sheriff after Sheriff Paul Penzone officially resigned this week. 

Penzone’s resignation comes just months before the election of a successor. Chief Deputy Sheriff Russ Skinner will serve as interim sheriff until the county board of supervisors can appoint a replacement, who will be a Democrat. In a press release, Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Sellers thanked Penzone for his tenure.

“I would like to thank Sheriff Penzone for going above and beyond to keep Maricopa County residents safe,” said Sellers. “In particular, I appreciate his collaboration on security matters related to elections.”

The sheriff isn’t headed for retirement. Blue Cross Blue Shield has hired Penzone to oversee the insurer giant’s charity initiatives and community programs, which will include allocating funds to seed programs. 

Penzone first took on the role of county sheriff in 2016, when he ousted longtime Sheriff Joe Arpaio — now Fountain Hills mayoral candidate — with the help of millions from progressive dark money financier George Soros. Penzone’s race was the largest cash flow in a local race put out by Soros that year. 

That well-financed race was Penzone’s second attempt to unseat Arpaio after an initial, unsuccessful bid in 2012. 

Penzone announced his intent to resign last October. 

On his last day, Friday, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) posted a video featuring Penzone reciting former President Theodore Roosevelt’s monologue, “The Man in the Arena,” reflecting on his time as sheriff. Penzone didn’t attribute the monologue to Roosevelt.

“It is the men and women of MCSO who are in the arena,” said Penzone. “I hope that you express gratitude for them whenever you cross their paths, because their sacrifice and their work often goes unappreciated but it is the difference between living in a safe community or living in a space of fear.”

Penzone’s legacy included the establishment of identity-based community advisory boards, a K9 drug detection unit for jails, a motorcycle traffic enforcement fleet, deputy service aides for lower priority calls (like thefts, burglaries, and crashes), a tactical fugitive apprehension unit, two mental health services for MCSO staff, and the shutting down of Arpaio’s controversial Tent City jail program. 

In place of that last program, Penzone established a substance abuse counseling program. 

Maricopa County will accept applications for the sheriff’s position until January 19 at 5 pm.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Maricopa County Admits To Voter Disenfranchisement

Maricopa County Admits To Voter Disenfranchisement

By Jeff Caldwell |

Have you ever shown up to vote and were told at the voting location that your voting information does not match the information on your driver’s license? If this has happened to you, have you wondered if your vote was counted?

We finally know why this happens! And there’s someone fighting for you!

EZAZ.org put out a Call to Action for its Grassroots to speak at the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Meeting on September 27. One of the talking points included that voters are unknowingly being re-registered as a different political party or even in a different county than the county they live in. One of the commenters utilized this talking point.

Maricopa County’s legal team followed up by stating that during the MVD and Service Arizona process, when someone re-registers their vehicle in another county, sometimes the opt-out box is mischecked and changes voter registration without the voter knowing. Maricopa County Elections Director, Scott Jarrett, agreed.

Yes, this is the same elections department run by Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer. Both offices stated that the MVD and Service Arizona process is allowed under state statute. They are saying their hands are tied, and they can’t do anything about it.

This means that a voter could get mismatched information or be registered under the wrong party affiliation for something like re-registering a vehicle, registering a new vehicle, or getting a new license… And the voter wouldn’t even know until it’s too late!

So, then what would happen? If someone shows up to vote and their voting registration information is different from the information on their driver’s license, the voting location provides what is called a provisional ballot.

The Arizona Secretary of State’s Office says, “Provisional ballots are a fail-safe measure designed to ensure that all eligible voters have their ballots counted.” The county is supposed to go back and determine if voters who cast provisional ballots were legal and then count the ballots of those who are legal. But if provisional ballots are such a fail-safe measure, then consider this.

There are currently over 9,000 provisional ballots not counted in the Arizona Attorney General race. Abe Hamadeh is still fighting in the courts because his team has discovered many of these voters tend to vote in every election and some were mysteriously re-registered in another county. There are only 280 votes separating Mayes from Hamadeh.

Abe’s team has been trying for months to get access to the envelopes of provisional ballots to verify information of those who did cast a vote in such a way, but the counties have not allowed this to happen. This is ridiculous!

It’s time for the MVD and Service Arizona to change its misguided process. And it’s time for the courts to force the counties to allow Abe’s team to inspect the provisional ballot envelopes. After all, real election integrity ensures that every legal vote is counted.

Jeff Caldwell currently helps with operations at EZAZ.org. He is also a Precinct Captain, State Committeeman, and Precinct Committeeman in Legislative District 2. Jeff is a huge baseball fan who enjoys camping and exploring new, tasty restaurants! You can follow him on X here.

Community Speaks Out Against ‘Deep State’ Agenda At Maricopa Supervisors Meeting

Community Speaks Out Against ‘Deep State’ Agenda At Maricopa Supervisors Meeting

By Corinne Murdock |

Community activists attended the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting on Wednesday in droves to oppose a “deep state”-filled agenda.

The activists voiced their opposition in public comment against agenda items with alleged “deep state” ties: the newest Planning and Zoning Commission appointee, expanded Travel Reduction Program Services, the new precinct committeemen appointment policy, the Carefree emergency operations policy, additional funding for Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer’s office, Scottsdale’s ownership of housing as an investment opportunity and the purchase of more houses, Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) Superintendent Scott Menzel becoming the SUSD representative, continuation of a homeless treatment COVID-19 policy, and CDC funding for overdoses. 

The BOS approved all of the opposed items. The audience was generally rowdy throughout consideration of the contested agenda items, especially concerning the proposed precinct committeemen policy. 

Much of the coordinated opposition effort was arranged by EZAZ, a project to boost citizen engagement in local government by the nonprofit Strong Communities Action. The project was created by former Phoenix Republican mayoral candidate Merissa Hamilton and two of her campaign workers, Lisa Blankenship and Carisa Feierabend.

EZAZ issued a lengthy explainer of their opposition to Wednesday’s agenda items.

The item that received the most vocal opposition concerned changes to the BOS oversight of precinct committeemen. The BOS directed Maricopa County Elections to establish formal processes for precinct committeemen vacancies and appointments. Legislative district leaders argued during public comment that the vacancy and appointment processes ought to be left up to the parties.

Hamilton said that the policy should’ve been developed through a stakeholder meeting with the political parties, not internally by the board’s staff. She claimed that the BOS has taken an interest in greater oversight of a process that parties have opposed bureaucratic “meddling” in, but that it has no problem “rubber stamping” other policies where the community has asked for more scrutiny. 

“The parties should have given you what the processes should be, not the other way around,” said Hamilton. “It’s concerning that you’ve taken this approach because as I have audited your official ballot precinct reports, they have not been completed, so I would prefer that you would spend the time in this department working on getting those forms completed so that we can have our proper chain of custody rather than trying to change or influence a process that really you don’t have business participating in except to be a rubber stamp.”

BOS Chairman Clint Hickman countered that the intent of the policy wasn’t to create a “logjam” ahead of the 2024 election cycle. Hickman encouraged the activists to petition their legislators for changes to the law, which grants the BOS ministerial oversight of precinct committeemen appointments. 

“This, again, could’ve been something that the BOS could do ministerially, because we just want to make sure that the names that come to this board to be appointed go through a procedure that matches up to both state law and your individual clubs’ bylaws,” said Hickman. “We’re not doing anything counter to bylaws or statute.” 

Opponents of the policy also took issue with Maricopa County Elections neglecting to publicize the new form. The BOS repeatedly assured the public that the proposed policy was designed to create more transparency.

BOS Vice Chairman Jack Sellers said that they had received complaints that precinct committeemen vacancies weren’t properly created, hence the need for this policy update. 

Concerning the newest Planning and Zoning Commission appointee, Lily Landholt, EZAZ expressed disapproval over her being a lawyer with a multinational law firm supportive of progressive transportation sustainability efforts, Squire Patton Boggs.

Supervisor Bill Gates, who moved for approval of Landholt’s appointment, said that the county should be thanking Landholt for serving on the commission. He also stated that Landholt wasn’t behind her firm’s policy stances, and that she was just one lawyer in a giant firm. Gates also said that Landholt’s role would be advisory only in policymaking, and assured the public that the BOS would have the final say. 

“The fact that a lawyer in this firm — literally, one of the finest firms in the world — would want to serve on our PNZ, we should be thanking her, and that’s what I am doing,” said Gates. 

The Travel Reduction Program agenda item reflected a $346,000 agreement between the Regional Public Transportation Authority and Maricopa County through the Air Quality Department to implement an employer urban travel reduction. EZAZ urged the county to use its lobbyist to get rid of the state law making the Travel Reduction Program possible; they also called for the abolition of the Maricopa Association of Governments.

EZAZ took issue with the proposed emergency operations plan for the town of Carefree because it wasn’t publicized. One public commenter cited the bureaucratic hurdles that delayed emergency response to the recent Maui wildfire. 

Similarly, the activists took issue with the approval of $1.37 million to the recorder’s office without offering specifics as to what the funding would cover. 

The activists also opposed the city of Scottsdale’s continued practice of owning and purchasing housing for rehabilitation and rentals. They claimed that government ownership of housing was a strain on the state’s housing supply, as well as a big risk for the city due to home prices and contract rates mirroring the 1970 and 2008 housing crises. 

Also concerning housing support services, the public requested that the BOS ensure that the proposed intergovernmental agreement with the Arizona Department of Economic Security wouldn’t allow for the housing of illegal aliens or Title 42 recipients. 

EZAZ opposed the appointment of SUSD Superintendent Menzel as a district representative for the Maricopa County Head Start Program meal service delivery program, citing his past remarks promoting equity and disparaging the white race. 

The activists further opposed the operation of temporary emergency shelter services to mitigate COVID-19 exposure among the homeless, noting that both domestic and foreign government agencies have declared the pandemic to be over. 

Also related to public health, the activists opposed the acceptance of $2.9 million in CDC grant funds for drug overdoses because of the requirement that the county abide by “health equity” practices, meaning disparate treatment based on “social determinants of health” and “health disparities” such as race, gender, sexuality, gender identity, and sexually transmitted diseases.

Watch the full meeting here:

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Ugenti-Rita Announces Run For Maricopa County Board Of Supervisors

Ugenti-Rita Announces Run For Maricopa County Board Of Supervisors

By Daniel Stefanski |

A former Arizona legislator is running for office again – albeit for a different position than she previously held.

Former State Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita announced her candidacy for the office of Maricopa County Supervisor for District 2, which is currently occupied by Supervisor Thomas Galvin. Galvin was appointed by the Board of Supervisors when the former officeholder, Steve Chucri, resigned his seat in 2021.

After his appointment, Galvin won his first election in 2022.

Ugenti-Rita came out swinging against her opponent, asserting that District 2 voters “have been deeply disappointed by (Galvin’s) actions while in office. She listed “defending botched elections, fiscal mismanagement (including support for the Prop 400 transportation tax increase) or abdicating his responsibility to the residents in Rio Verde Foothills when they desperately needed a solution for their water problem,” as grievances against Galvin’s short tenure in office.

The former legislator also slammed the Board as a whole, which will likely be a common refrain of her campaign. She wrote, “For too long, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors has lacked transparency, flown under the radar without accountability and been beholden to entrenched bureaucrats and special interests. It is time to call them what they really are, RINOs, and expose the county cartel that has been facilitating and perpetuating a liberal woke agenda.”

In her lengthy statement, Ugenti-Rita also proved that she would be all too willing to pit her conservative credentials against her perception of Galvin’s, adding, “District 2 is a Republican district and the voters want and deserve a Supervisor who reflects those conservative principles. They are tired of being sold out time and time again when politicians like Galvin who claim to be conservative in order to win their vote, then turn around and support bloated budgets, tax increases and woke gender politics that only succeed in growing government. This stands in stark contrast to my unmatched 12 year record of successfully delivering conservative results to the voters.”

Ugenti-Rita shared that she had garnered the “continued support and endorsement of Congressman David Schweikert” for her race. She included a quote from the U.S. Representative, which read, “Michelle has a stellar and proven record of principled, conservative leadership. I’m confident that she will make an excellent county supervisor. I’m proud to give her my full endorsement and I encourage my fellow Republicans to join me in voting for her in next year’s Republican primary.”

Schweikert wasn’t the only endorsement listed by Ugenti-Rita, who added Arizona State Senators John Kavanagh, Wendy Rogers, and Representatives Joseph Chaplik and Barbara Parker to her roster of early supporters.

The new candidate’s revelation wasn’t viewed favorably with some around Maricopa County. Michael Noble, an Arizona pollster, weighed in on the race, saying, “If you’ve ever met Supervisor Thomas Galvin or seen him perform his job of representing his district, you will find all of the stuff below by Ugenti is complete BS.”

On his campaign website, Galvin lists public safety, inflation, water, elections, economic development, transportation and infrastructure, and Highway US-60 as his priorities. He stated that his “beautiful wife and I are raising a young son who we want to grow up in a successful, prosperous, and safe Maricopa County.”

Galvin’s heart appears to come through strongest when talking about his passion for law and order and augmenting public safety in the county. He wrote, “Arizonans desire freedom, creating good jobs, and a strong economy. I share those values. We must maintain law-and-order in Maricopa County. That is why I am proud that the County has provided additional resources to the Sheriff’s office and the County Attorney’s office so that they have the tools and resources they need to fight crime. Illegal drugs are a scourge in our community. Maricopa County has the highest drug overdose death rate in Arizona. We need to reverse that. We need to stem the rising tide of violent crime.”

The incumbent Supervisor added, “I denounce and reject calls to Defund the Police. That is why I am proud of a budget that enhances law enforcement. And I’m proud to be endorsed by Police.”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.