Not even our trusty state Legislature has been spared the effects of the 2021 phenomenon we’ve come to know as “The Great Resignation.” So far, 11 lawmakers have departed—an unusually high level of turnover, with several quitting for a variety of personal reasons or moving from the House to the Senate. Here’s the rundown:
Departures from the Legislature
- Charlene Fernandez (LD 4—D) officially departs on Nov. 15 to begin her new role as U.S. Department of Agriculture's Arizona director for rural development—an appointed position under the Biden administration.
- Frank Pratt (LD 8—R) passed away in September from a long-term condition.
- Dr. Randy Friese (LD 9—D) officially leaves the House on Nov. 15 to "refocus on medical career and service" in light of the pandemic.
- Bret Roberts (LD 11—R) resigned in August because he is relocating to North Carolina.
- Becky Nutt (LD 14—R) resigned Nov. 1 for personal reasons.
- Aaron Lieberman (LD 28—D) resigned in September to run for governor.
- Diego Rodriguez (LD 27—D) has left to pursue his run for State Attorney General.
- Kirsten Engel (LD 10—D) resigned in September to focus on her run for Congress after the current officeholder, Ann Kirkpatrick, announced plans to retire.
- Tony Navarrete (LD 30—D) resigned in August after being indicted on assault charges involving a child.
- Stephanie Stahl Hamilton (LD 10—D) resigned her seat in late October after being appointed to fill Kirsten Engel's Senate seat.
- Raquel Terán (LD 30—D) resigned her post mid-September to fill Tony Navarrete's Senate seat.
Under state law, the corresponding county Board of Supervisors must appoint a representative of the same party to serve as a replacement for the elected official that is exiting. The replacement will fill out the remainder of the vacating member's 24-month term. The new representatives are listed below.
- Brian Fernandez (LD 4—D), a Yuma native and founder of a tech startup company, was appointed by the Yuma County Board of Supervisors last week to replace his mother, Charlene Fernandez.
- Neal Carter (LD 8—R), a lawyer and software instructor, was appointed in late October to replace Frank Pratt.
- Teresa Martinez (LD 11—R), the director of coalitions and Hispanic outreach for U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, was appointed by the Pinal County Board of Supervisors in late October to replace Bret Roberts.
- Lupe Diaz (LD 14—R), a Benson city councilman and the pastor of Grace Chapel Benson, was appointed by the Cochise County Board of Supervisors last week to replace Becky Nutt.
- Sarah Liguori (LD 28—D), a commercial real estate manager at a private firm, was appointed by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to replace Aaron Lieberman.
- Christian Solorio (LD 30—D), an architect, was appointed by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in late October to replace Raquel Terán in the House.
- TBD (Pima County has yet to appoint a replacement for Dr. Randy Friese in LD 9).
- TBD (Pima County has yet to appoint a replacement for Stephanie Stahl Hamilton in LD 10).
- TBD (Maricopa County has yet to appoint a replacement for Diego Rodriguez in LD 27).
- Stephanie Stahl Hamilton (LD 10—D), who served in the House last year, has been appointed to the Senate to fill Kirsten Engel's seat.
- Raquel Terán (LD 30—D), who served in the House last year, has been appointed to the Senate as a replacement for Tony Navarrete.
After more than 20 years in the Senate, top majority staffer Wendy Baldo has retired. She served as Chief of Staff for six Senate presidents and has been a fixture at the Legislature, known as a fair and honest player deeply respected by both sides of the aisle.
Melissa Taylor replaces Baldo as Senate Chief of Staff, bringing with her 13 years of service in the Deputy Chief of Staff role, as well as prior experience as a committee analyst and policy advisor at the Legislature.
Grant Hanna will fill the role of Deputy Chief of Staff, after serving in the Senate for six years in various capacities, including as a research analyst and senior policy advisor for multiple committees.
Over in the House, Tracy Lopes has taken over as Chief of Staff for the Democratic Caucus. She is the first African American woman to serve as House Democratic Chief of Staff and brings a wealth of experience to the role, including working as an administrative law judge, law professor, criminal defense attorney and as an Assistant District Attorney in Massachusetts. Lopes replaces Cynthia Aragon, who was tapped to serve as White House liaison at the Department of Commerce under the Biden administration.
Consistent with this year’s theme of “musical chairs,” a number of senior staffers in the Governor’s Office have also resigned in recent months. Here’s a quick list of resignations and replacements on the Ninth Floor:
- Daniel Scarpinato, former Chief of Staff to the Governor, resigned in August to join a national advertising and political consulting firm.
- Gretchen Conger, former Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor, resigned in August to serve as Senior Advisor to Sarah Huckabee Sanders' campaign.
- Ben Blink, former policy advisor for transportation and technology innovation, resigned in September.
- Lauren Bouton, former Director of Community and Stakeholder Engagement, resigned in October to join a local private consulting firm.
- Grace Appelbe, former policy advisor on housing, resigned earlier this month to join the Arizona Chamber of Commerce.
- Daniel Ruiz, who previously served as Chief Operating Office to the Governor, now serves as Chief of Staff, succeeding Daniel Scarpinato.
- Katie Ratlief, who has been Gov. Ducey's Director of Legislative Affairs since 2016, will now serve as Senior Advisor to the Governor.
- Christina Corieri now serves as Senior Policy Advisor for Healthcare.
- Darbi Gottlieb now serves as Director of Policy.
- Kaitlin Harrier now serves as Senior Policy Advisor for Education.
- Michelle Shipley joins the Ninth Floor as Senior Advisor for Community Engagement and Initiatives.
- Jake Agron joins the Ninth Floor as Deputy General Counsel and policy advisor on elections.
- Art Harding is the new Director of Legislative Affairs.
- Sierra Ciaramella is the new Deputy Communications Director and Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff.