PHOENIX — A new state senator for northeastern Arizona’s 7th District
might face a residency challenge because he’s lived for years in the Phoenix
area and just changed his voter registration to Apache County.
Democrat Carlyle W. Begay was sworn into office at the Capitol on Tuesday to
replace Sen. Jack Jackson Jr. The Apache County Board of Supervisors appointed
Begay last week.
Rep. Albert Hale was one of three people who applied to a citizens’ commission
for the job. Hale’s lawyer told the Arizona Capitol Times
he might challenge Begay’s residency because Begay must
have lived in Apache County for a year before representing the area in the
Legislature. Begay has lived in Gilbert for several years but changed his voter
registration to Apache County on July 22.
Begay told The Associated Press Tuesday that he’s not concerned about the
“I’ve maintained residency within Apache County,” Begay said after the
swearing-in ceremony. “I’m well aware of legal opinions and legal positions
that were previously released by the attorney general and Maricopa County. I’m
well aware of the law and the statutes within Arizona.”
Hale’s lawyer, Tom Ryan, told the Capitol Times that Begay’s service on
Gilbert’s Industrial Development Authority Board is evidence that Begay’s true
residence is in Maricopa County.
Members of the board “must reside within the Town limits and be qualified
electors,” according to Gilbert’s website.
“His home is in Gilbert, his work is in Phoenix, he’s registered to vote, or
at least was up until July 22, in Maricopa County,” Ryan said.
Begay told the AP he has never attended a meeting of that board, although he’s
a current member. He said he wanted to learn how cities work on infrastructure
so he could use that to help tribal development.
Begay, 32, was born in Tuba City and attended the University of Arizona. He
works as a vice president of business development for Phoenix-based American
Indian Health Management and Policy.
Ryan said he’s sending a “quo warranto” to Apache County Attorney Michael
Whiting and Attorney General Tom Horne demanding that either official take
action to stop the appointment on the grounds that Begay would unlawfully be
holding office as the 7th District’s senator.
Arizona’s constitution said candidates cannot serve in the Legislature unless
they’ve lived in the county they’re going to represent for at least one year
before taking office.
“You only get one residency,” Ryan said. “The fact that he has a summer home
up there or something like that … it still doesn’t wash.”
Ryan and Apache County Attorney Michael Whiting did not immediately return
calls from the AP on Tuesday. The Arizona attorney general’s office could not
immediately say if a challenge has been received.