Elda Luna-Nájera will fill Leezah Sun’s vacant seat in Arizona House of Representatives

Feb 26, 2024, 5:00 PM

Dr. Elda Luna-Nájera to replace Leezah Sun's legislative seat...

Elda Luna-Nájera will represent Legislative District 22 in the Arizona House of Representatives, officials said Feb. 26, 2024. (Arizona House Democrats photo)

(Arizona House Democrats photo)

PHOENIX – A citizen’s panel appointed Elda Luna-Nájera to replace the Arizona House seat vacated by Leezah Sun late last month, officials announced on Monday.

Luna-Nájera is the current president of the Tolleson Union High School District Governing Board. She is passionate about public education and working with nonprofits and public education, according to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

“I am honored and humbled by this opportunity,” Luna-Nájera said in a statement. “Serving as the LD22 House Representative is a responsibility I don’t take lightly.”

Sun, her predecessor, resigned on Jan. 31 after the Arizona House Ethics Committee released findings that accused her of engaging “in a pattern of inappropriate behavior.”

Luna-Nájera, a Democrat, will serve out the remainder of the Sun’s term.

Gallardo, the only Democrat on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, said Luna-Nájera is the perfect person for this role.

“I could not think of a more qualified person to fill this vacancy in LD-22,” Gallardo said. “Dr. Luna-Nájera is a respected community leader in the West Valley and her experience in the education system will make her a tremendous asset to the Arizona State Legislature. I am excited to see the great things she will do with this opportunity.”

What was her predecessor, Leezah Sun, accused of?

The Arizona House Ethics Committee analyzed Sun’s behavior after her former seatmate, House Minority leader Lupe Contreras, filed a formal ethics complaint against her on Nov. 2.

Sun was accused of being “abusive” and “threatening” towards Tolleson city officials. A judge ordered her to stay away from them after Tolleson City Manager Reyes Medrano filed an injunction against workplace harassment on Oct. 18. Sun allegedly called him various swear words during one incident.

Another time, Sun said she wanted to kill Chief Government Affairs Officer Pilar Sinawi, the injunction said.

Several other accusations against Sun made light, such as an incident where she allegedly threatened to retaliate against a school superintendent. The report also said Sun interfered in a child custody arrangement by manipulating children into not complying with a court-ordered transfer to their father.

Contreras expressed excitement over Luna-Nájera taking over Sun’s role.

“With Dr. Luna-Nájera, our caucus returns to full strength, but more importantly we gain another powerful voice for public education,” Contreras said. “She also has tremendous experience working with families who are struggling, who are experiencing homelessness. Those issues are front and center right now and her expertise will benefit our caucus, her constituents and our entire state.”

Elda Luna-Nájera the latest to fill an empty House seat

Democrats have had to fill four seats this legislative session.

Rep. Athena Salman stepped down in December to work for a nonprofit organization that promotes reproductive rights. Jevin Hodge, who narrowly lost to Schweikert in 2022, filled her position.

Rep. Jennifer Longdon resigned from her District 5 seat in January to pursue a new career opportunity. Sarah Ligouri was appointed to the seat earlier this month.

Rep. Amish Shah also resigned from District 5 in January to focus on running for Republican U.S. Rep. David Schweikert’s 1st Congressional District seat. Charles Lucking was appointed to the role earlier this month.

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Elda Luna-Nájera will fill Leezah Sun’s vacant seat in Arizona House of Representatives