Count Supervisor District 1 race is on

The list of applicants for a vacancy on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors ballooned at the deadline for applying to 13 – including eight Republicans who lost primary or general elections last fall and a member of the Chandler City Council.

Of the 13 hopefuls to fill the slot that will be vacated by District 1 Supervisor Denny Barney on Friday, Feb. 1, four have never held elective office – Angela Creedon, associate vice president of community relations for Arizona State University who held a similar position for APS prior to joining ASU President Michael Crow’s staff; Gilbert construction office manager Rusdon Ray; Gilbert businessman Jimmy Lindblum. who lost a three-way Republican primary for State House in Legislative District 12; and Frank Schmuck, the Tempe commercial airlines pilot who lost his bid for State Senate in LD 18.

Creedon – the only hopeful who picked up an endorsement, from Mesa Mayor John Giles – is also one of only two women who have applied for the vacancy. The other is Jill Norgaard of Ahwatukee, who lost her bid for a third term in the Legislative District 18 House seat last fall.

 Barney is leaving midway through his second term to fill the CEO post at the East Valley Partnership, a consortium of government, business and education leaders whose board picked him last June as their new leader.

The remaining four board members and the Clerk of the Board by law must choose a Republican from District 1 to fill Barney’s position because he was a Republican. A spokesman said they hoped to start interviewing the applicants within the week and make a selection by mid-February.

District 1 covers Ahwatukee, Scottsdale, Gilbert, Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, Queen Creek and Sun Lakes.

The other candidates who have submitted applications are:

  • Norgaard’s running mate, Tempe lawyer Greg Patterson, who served two terms in the State House in the mid-1990s;
  • Former state Rep. Warde Nichols, owner of an Ahwatukee pool cleaning service;
  • Brandon Schmoll, a former member of the Tempe Union High School governing board who lost his bid for a third term as constable;
  • Chandler Councilman Mark Stewart, who won his first term in 2016;
  • Steven Yarbrough, who retired as State Senate President last year, ending a 16-year career in the State Legislature. 
  • Jack Sellers, a two-term Chandler City council member whom Gov. Doug Ducey reappointed to a  term on the State Transportation Board;
  • David Richins, a former Mesa City Council member and president/CEO of United Food Bank;
  • Mark Forese, who lost a three-way contest for a second term on the state Corporation Commission.

The successful candidate would have to seek election to a full four-year term on the board in 2020.

Each of the five supervisors has a three-member fulltime staff and an annual office budget of about $440,000.

The board as a whole oversees an annual budget that currently totals nearly $2.5 billion.

 That money funds a wide variety of services that include: county road and bridge construction and maintenance, the operation of all other county offices such as those of the sheriff and recorder; flood control and various health and sanitation programs, including restaurant and supermarket inspections; Superior Court and related operations, including the public defender, county attorney and probation; and various education, cultural and recreation programs.

The position of county supervisor pays $76,600 annually – more than salaries earned by any of the former office holders in the previous elected positions.

Many of the candidates touted their background and experience as reasons to be selected.

“One of the pressing issues for our county over the next few years will be the intelligent extension of our Prop 400 transportation funding mechanism to Prop 500,” wrote Sellers, who called attention to his long involvement with both the Transportation Board and building a public infrastructure for the advent of autonomous vehicles.

“I hope you agree that I am the best candidate to ensure that we have a viable plan for our future and can successfully market that plan to the voters,” Sellers also wrote. “I also feel that, based on the distribution of voters in District 1, I am the most electable candidate seeking this position.”

Saying he had the “blessing” of Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke, Stewart wrote:

“Today more than ever, we need elected officials committed to finding modern efficiencies to save money and with that create opportunities to better our communities. Government is, and only should be, a conduit to help protect life, preserve liberty, and support our pursuit of happiness. As Maricopa County Supervisor, I will commit to this primary responsibility.”

Forese told the board, “My experiences as an elected official have taught me many things over the past several years. Being chairman of the Corporation Commission taught me humility. The issues are complex, but by working with the professional staff and my fellow commissioners, I was able to help end the ‘solar war’ that was happening between the state’s largest utility and the solar industry.”

Forese and several other hopefuls also said they had developed extensive ties with government and business leaders throughout District 1.

Others also said they were applying out of a desire to be of service to the public.

“Serving my community and promoting positive change and growth are important to me,” wrote Nichols.

 “I have one of the greatest jobs in the world; yet, my profession is not what fulfills me completely,” Schmuck said in his application. “What really drives me is my passion to serve others. I feel my combined professional experience and decades of service in the community can help propel our community forward by assisting our residents and businesses gain greater opportunities.”

Norgaard touted her engineering, business and legislative background, stating, “I have utilized these skills to implement business practices in government to streamline processes in the state. “

Schmoll said he “would be a great candidate” because of his school board and constable experience, stating “given that a huge portion of the county budget goes to the courts, law enforcement, and jails it makes sense that you should appoint someone with first-hand knowledge in these areas.”

Patterson, an attorney, submitted only a resume that outlined his experience on the state Board of Regents and the county public hospital board.

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