With election down road, Maricopa County officials ponder Adel’s interim replacement

Mar 22, 2022, 2:16 PM | Updated: 3:02 pm

PHOENIX – With a special election for Maricopa County attorney set for later in the year, the Board of Supervisors can now start thinking about who will serve as metro Phoenix’s top prosecutor until voters pick Allister Adel’s replacement.

Board Chairman Bill Gates told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Tuesday that the interim director won’t necessarily have to be somebody with prior experience in the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, although “that would definitely be a plus.”

“There may be folks that have strong administrative backgrounds, being someone who can inspire others from other roles that they may have had in the community,” he said.

“But definitely someone who’s well known in the legal community, someone who really understands Maricopa County and the tough job that our prosecutors have every day trying to keep our streets safe.”

Former County Attorney told Rick Romley told KTAR News’ Gaydos and Chad on Monday that he’d consider keeping the seat warm if offered.

“I gave my life to it, I believe in that office,” he said. “I’d help out everybody because it’s just too important of an office.”

There isn’t a timeline in place yet for picking an interim, who must be a Republican like Adel, but Gates said he doesn’t expect the process to drag on.

“We want to have our appointment there running the office as soon as we can,” he said.

For the time being, Gates said Chief Deputy Ken Vick will oversee operations after Adel’s resignation goes into effect Friday at 5 p.m. Vick helped run the office when Adel was hospitalized with a brain injury after a fall in November 2020.

The special election to determine who will serve the final two years of Adel’s term will be held along with the state’s midterm elections, with the primary on Aug. 2 and the general on Nov. 8.

Gates said setting the election was the board’s top priority after accepting Adel’s resignation on Monday because of state-mandated timelines.

“That needed to happen immediately,” he said. “And the reason that it needed to happen immediately is because for those people who are running, they need to collect all of their signatures, thousands of signatures to get on the ballot, by April 4.”

Two candidates quickly filed their statements of interest for the office on Monday: Anni Foster, a Republican who is Gov. Doug Ducey’s general counsel, and Julie Gunnigle, the Democratic nominee in 2020 who lost to Adel by under 2 percentage points.

Three more candidates filed statements of interest by Tuesday afternoon, according to the county recorder: Republicans Gina Godbehere and James Austin Woods and Libertarian Michael Kielsky.

The number of valid signatures needed to get on the ballot is 4,528 for a Republican, 4,289 for a Democrat and 2,319 for a Libertarian, according to the county recorder.

Gunnigle appeared to be well on her way to getting the required number Tuesday afternoon, when she said on Twitter she already had more than 3,500 signatures via the state’s e-qual online system.

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With election down road, Maricopa County officials ponder Adel’s interim replacement