LEGISLATURE

3 new members picked for Arizona Legislature after death, resignations created vacancies

The Arizona Legislature
Tara Kavaler Ray Stern
Arizona Republic

Corrections & Clarifications: A previous version of this article misidentified Teresa Martinez.

The Arizona Legislature gained three new members Wednesday thanks to selections made by the Pinal and Maricopa county boards of supervisors.

Two Republicans, Neal Carter and Teresa Martinez, and one Democrat, Christian Solorio, are filling seats left vacant in the House of Representatives due to death, resignation and a House-to-Senate transfer to replace a senator who resigned after he was arrested on allegations of child sexual abuse.

The Pinal County Board of Supervisors chose Carter and Martinez, who will replace Frank Pratt in Legislative District 8 and Bret Roberts in Legislative District 11, respectively.

Pratt, 79, a swimming pool company owner who was a fixture in the Legislature since 2009, died in September after a long illness. Roberts, who was in his second term, announced his resignation in September, saying it was best for his family but giving no details about his reason for leaving.

In Maricopa County, Solorio replaces Raquel Terán in the House. Terán, a Phoenix Democrat, was selected in September to fill former Sen. Tony Navarrete's seat in the Senate.

Stephen Miller, the chair of the Pinal County Board of Supervisors, said he thought all of the interviews "went quite well" and that experience wasn't necessarily the primary criteria for the appointments.

Carter is a lawyer and software trainer who volunteers for several organizations. He is strongly opposed to mask mandates and recently drove 1,500 miles to Illinois rather than wear a mask on an airplane.

Martinez is the director of coalitions and Hispanic outreach for U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., and is the former political director of the Arizona Republican Party. She was a voting rights ambassador for former Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan, and a congressional liaison for former U.S. Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz.

Solorio, who works as an architect, is on the governing board of the Alhambra Elementary School District and previously served on the Alhambra Village Planning Committee. 

"As a professional architect, I’ve witnessed the disparity in design and disinvestment in communities throughout Arizona. It shaped my career, and it motivated me to participate in my local planning committee and serve as a local school board member," Solorio said in a prepared statement. "Today, I have received the great responsibility to take it a step further."

Even with the appointments, the Arizona Legislature is not completely full. Pima County has yet to assign a replacement for former Rep. Stephanie Stahl Hamilton in the House.

Stahl Hamilton, D-Tucson, was picked to fill a vacancy in the Senate created by former Sen. Kirsten Engel, D-Tucson, who left her post to focus on her campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives.

More resignations and appointments are likely as members of the Legislature seek other offices in the 2022 election.