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Pima supervisors to pick replacement for Engel in Arizona Legislature

State senator stepping down to run full-time for Arizona's CD2 congressional seat

The Pima County Board of Supervisors will consider three candidates to replace outgoing state Sen. Kirsten Engel during a meeting Tuesday.

Engel announced in early September that she was stepping down from her legislative seat to run full-time in the Democratic primary for Congressional District 2—a seat currently occupied by U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, who will retire next year.

Under state law, Engel — a Democrat who was elected to serve Legislative District 10, which covers much of Midtown and the East Side — must be replaced by a member of the same political party to serve out the remainder of her term.

Last week, the Arizona Democratic Party submitted three names to the country board for consideration to fill the vacancy.

Among the candidates are Tom Chabin, state Rep. Stephanie Stahl Hamilton, and Larry Waggoner.

Chabin began public service in 1988, when he served on the school board in Tuba City. Chabin then spent eight years as a Coconino County supervisor in Flagstaff. In 2007, he was appointed to the Arizona state House where he served for five years.

In 2016, he ran unsuccessfully for Arizona Corporation Commission.

Hamilton was elected as an LD10 state representative during the 2020 election. Hamilton, a Presbyterian minister, has a master's degree in divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary.

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If the supervisors pick Hamilton, it would create another legislative vacancy as she would move from the state House to the state Senate.

Larry Waggoner is the current second vice-chair for Democrats in LD10. Waggoner served for in the Marine Corps for 30 years before retired, and then worked for NATO in Naples, Italy for another 17 years. Waggoner retired to Tucson in 2011, and has volunteered with the Tucson Samaritans.

The board's decision comes just after state Rep. Randy Friese announced that he was ending his campaign for CD2 in early September., citing the surge of the Delta variant of COVID-19. "As the Delta variant surges across our region, it has become an increasing challenge to fulfill my obligations to the hospital, my patients, and the campaign amidst a run for Congress," Friese said.

Friese, also a Democrat, more recently said he is planning to resign from his seat in the state House in November.

With Friese leaving, Matt Kopec has indicated he's interested in serving in Friese's place in District 9 — which covers north Tucson, as well as Casas Adobes and the Catalina Foothills.

Kopec is currently a member of the school board at Amphitheater Public Schools, and previously served as the representative from 2016 to 2017 after being appointed to fill a vacancy.

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

Pima County Chair Sharon Bronson during a Board of Supervisors meeting in Feb. 2020.