Former Arizona Sen. Steve Pierce chosen to replace David Stringer

Apr 3, 2019, 7:29 AM | Updated: 12:29 pm
(Flickr Photo/Gage Skidmore)
(Flickr Photo/Gage Skidmore)

PHOENIX – The board of supervisors in a northern Arizona county chose former state Sen. Steve Pierce on Wednesday to replace Republican lawmaker David Stringer, who resigned from the House last week during an ethics investigation.

The Yavapai County Board of Supervisors picked Pierce in a 4-1 vote, over former Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who has run for governor twice, and GOP organizer Steven Sensmeier, in a special meeting. He was sworn in the same afternoon.

“I appreciate this very, very much,” Pierce said after the vote in Prescott.

He represented the district from 2009 to 2017 and served as president of the Senate after Russell Pearce was recalled in November 2011.

Only Chairman Randy Garrison voted for Bennett, who opposed Gov. Doug Ducey in the GOP primary both times he ran.

A Republican precinct county committee picked the District 1 nominees over the weekend.

Stringer, of Prescott, stepped down March 27, weeks after a Baltimore police report surfaced detailing 1983 accusations that he paid teenage boys for sex acts.

Supervisor Craig Brown said the scandal “has had a negative effect. We want confidence in Yavapai County to be renewed, refreshed.”

Stringer has denied the charges and explained why he accepted a plea deal to the charges in a post on Facebook that was later deleted.

The State Bar of Arizona earlier this month ended an investigation into whether Stringer disclosed the expunged conviction when he applied for an Arizona law license in 2004, as required.

A bar investigator said the application materials no longer existed, and that the District of Columbia did not discipline Stringer after the Baltimore charges.

Other controversies have followed Stringer, who had been a state representative since 2017.

He was being investigated for remarks he made to a crowd that “there aren’t enough white kids to go around” in schools and at another public event said African-American students didn’t “blend in.”

Stringer also said Somali immigrants didn’t look like “every other kid” who had immigrated to the country from Europe generations ago.

Replacing Stringer will put the House back to business as usual.

Nothing has gotten done because Republicans have lacked the votes to pass legislation without support from Democrats.

Rowel Simmons, Thomas Thurman and Jack Smith also voted for Pierce.

There were concerns how Bennett’s relationship with Ducey would affect governing.

“I don’t see the governor vetoing a bill because Ken Bennett is one .. of the votes,” Bennett told the panel during the candidate interview portion of the meeting.

Bennett also said he had no plans to run for governor again.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Former Arizona Sen. Steve Pierce chosen to replace David Stringer