Raquel Terán, House member and chair of Arizona Democratic Party, to replace Tony Navarrete in Senate

Ray Stern
Arizona Republic
Rep. Raquel Terán, the current chair of the state's Democratic Party, will move to the Senate to fill the seat of former state Sen. Tony Navarrete.

Corrections & Clarifications: An earlier version of this article misstated the type of meeting the supervisors held to choose a new state senator.

Arizona state Rep. Raquel Terán, the current chair of the state's Democratic Party, will move to the Senate to fill the seat of former state Sen. Tony Navarrete, who resigned last month amid criminal charges for child sexual abuse.

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors chose Terán from among three finalists Wednesday, following a weeks-long vetting process by a citizens panel.

The switch leaves a new vacancy in the House of Representatives that the supervisors must now fill. By law, a state legislator's replacement must come from the same political party.

Terán, D-Phoenix, won reelection in November to a second term as state representative; she'll now serve the rest of Navarrete's two-year term as a senator as he also won reelection last November. Both posts are in District 30, which covers the majority Hispanic neighborhoods on Phoenix's west side.

In a prepared statement, Senate Democratic Leader Rebecca Rios said the Democratic caucus is "thrilled" to have Terán join the Senate.

“I know she will bring the same energy, drive and vision to our caucus and we’re excited to work alongside her in the upcoming legislative session," Rios said.

Terán, 43, did not immediately return messages from The Arizona Republic. She said on social media that she was "honored" to take the seat.

"I take this responsibility of elected and appointed duty to heart, not only by showing up every day to the legislative session, but by also raising my voice for the needs of my constituents," she wrote.

She has served as the Democratic Party's state chair since its annual state meeting in January, working to solicit contributions and help other Democrats get elected.

Born in Douglas, Terán has worked as a community and political organizer, helping to recall former state GOP lawmaker Russell Pearce and defeat former Sheriff Joe Arpaio. After first being elected in 2018, she was hit with a racist political attack when a right-wing activist filed a lawsuit challenging her citizenship. A judge swiftly threw the case out.

Terán worked with the Biden-Harris campaign's Arizona Latino Leadership Council to bring out new voters and was endorsed for her own 2020 run by U.S. Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly.

Multiple resignations at Legislature

Navarrete is out of jail on bond following his arrest on Aug. 5. He was indicted on multiple felony charges including sexual conduct with a minor, attempted child molestation and child molestation, all related to alleged incidents in 2017 and 2018. Navarrete's trial is scheduled to start Jan. 13 and he's vowed to "pursue all avenues in an effort to prove my innocence."

His resignation was recently followed by two other resignations in the House: Last week, Rep. Bret Roberts, R-Maricopa, announced he was stepping down, saying it was best for his family, but giving no other reason. And state Sen. Kirsten Engel, D-Tucson, quit to run for Congress in Arizona's 2nd District, where U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick is not seeking reelection.

Resignations:Arizona House, Senate resignations could signal start of exodus from Legislature

The boards of supervisors in Pinal and Pima counties will handle those replacements.

Fields Moseley, spokesperson for Maricopa County, said that once Terán resigns from the House officially, the county will start the process for filling her vacancy.

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