State Sen. Linda Lopez will resign her seat in the Legislature, according to state Rep. Andrea Dalessandro, who said Lopez made the announcement this week at a holiday party.
Lopez, a Tucson Democrat who represents Santa Cruz County as part of Arizona Legislative District 2, did not immediately return a phone call Thursday.
Dalessandro, a Democrat from Sahuarita who also represents LD2, said Lopez is leaving for a job with the Easter Seals Blake Foundation in Tucson. The group serves children and adults with disabilities.
Dalessandro announced on her Facebook page Wednesday that she will be a candidate in 2016 for Lopez’s Senate seat and that she is seeking the appointment to fill the remainder of Lopez’s term. Lopez would have been ineligible to run for Senate in 2016 because of term limits.
“I was recruited a few months ago but I did not want to make it public until Linda Lopez spoke of her pending resignation in public,” Dalessandro wrote Wednesday night. “She did last night at the Arizona Women’s Political Caucus Holiday Party.”
Dalessandro didn’t immediately return calls Thursday for comment.
The Pima County Board of Supervisors will appoint a replacement for Lopez from a list of three Democrats provided by a group of residents from the district. The three nominees must be from Pima County, since Arizona law requires a legislative vacancy to be filled by a qualified elector of the same political party residing in the same county as the person who is vacating the office.
Lopez was House Minority Whip in 2003-04; House Assistant Minority Leader 2005-06 and Senate Minority Whip 2009-10. She was re-elected in 2011 to a newly redrawn, heavily Democratic district that stretches south from Tucson to Nogales.
The Tucson Weekly, a sister paper of the Nogales International, reported that Dalessandro, former state lawmaker Tom Prezelski and historic preservation champion Demion Clinco likely would be in the running for the appointment.