Bret Roberts state representative
Pinal County Supervisors will select the replacement for Rep. Bret Roberts in District 11 of the Arizona Legislature next Wednesday. Roberts resigned Sept. 9 to relocate his family to South Carolina. [Victor Moreno photo]

Republican precinct committeemen who live in LD11, and Pinal County will meet Oct. 17th at Robson Ranch in Eloy to choose a replacement for state Rep. Bret Roberts (LD-11).

Roberts, a Maricopa resident who was in the middle of his second term, resigned his position Sept. 9, effective Sept. 30.

According to Pinal County Republican Committee Chair Nancy Hawkins, four candidates have expressed a desire to be appointed to Roberts’ post – Kirk Fiehler, Teresa Martinez, Gilbert Mendez and Maricopa resident Steve Smith, a former state senator.

Hawkins said other candidates could still come forward but for now, those four are the only ones to express interest. She said she wants a candidate with “true Republican values” to fill the seat.

“I’m looking for someone who is going to be conservative and stick to the principles and stay with the Republican caucus,” Hawkins said. “I want someone who is not going to be breaking ranks and killing bills the Republicans are trying put forward. I believe most precinct committeepeople are looking for a good, strong conservative candidate that adheres to the Republican platform.”

Asked if choosing a candidate who can win re-election in next November’s mid-term election was a factor, Hawkins said too many forces are in play to have that influence the committee’s decision.

“It’s a redistricting year and we have no idea who is going to be in whose district until about December,” she said. “So, you just don’t know who’s going to be in which district. The last time we went through this, we had a lot of good candidates, but they all ended up in the same district.”

Legislative vacancies are filled by appointment of the county board of supervisors in the county in which the vacated seat lies. Since LD-11 lies in both Pinal and Pima counties, the Pinal County supervisors select the replacement because there are more voters in the district from Pinal than Pima.

Precinct committee members from the same political party will provide supervisors with up to three candidates from which to appoint Roberts’ successor, who will serve through January 2023, when the permanent successor elected in November 2022 takes office.

Roberts serves on the House Criminal Justice Reform, Education, Government & Elections, Military Affairs & Public Safety committees. Earlier this summer, Roberts secured a $35 million appropriation to begin work on a State Route 347 overpass at Riggs Road.

In announcing his resignation, Roberts said his family would be moving out of state. He has lived in Maricopa since 2009.

In a March interview, he said he enjoyed the role of working in the Legislature to find solutions but acknowledged how polarized politics had become in recent years. He said at the time he hadn’t yet made a decision whether to seek a third term.

The same nomination and selection process will take place to choose a successor for longtime state Rep. Frank Pratt, who died this month after a long illness.

Pratt, 79, a Casa Grande resident who graduated from Maricopa High School, represented Legislative District 8, which covers most of Pinal County and part of Gila County.

The 2022 Arizona Legislature convenes January 10.