One of the chief criticisms of Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas before he first won office in 2004 was his inexperience. Yet the Board of Supervisors is considering replacing Thomas with someone who has never prosecuted a single felon: Chandler Mayor Boyd Dunn. Thomas, who has formed an exploratory committee for state Attorney General, must resign from his current post by late May if he chooses to run. Naturally, he doesn't think his enemies should appoint his successor.
But that's just what might happen. Obviously, the Supervisors would prefer someone with less zeal for targeting them with lawsuits and criminal indictments.
What else can explain the fact that a divorce lawyer who's mayor of a mid-sized Valley city recently had private meetings about the potential job opening with each of the five supervisors?
Dunn's reputation as an attorney is solid, and he's put 32 years on the job. He's a personable, four-term mayor
But as county attorney, he'd be the manager of about 40,000 prosecutions a year -- and he'd have to navigate the Dante's inferno that county politics have become.
He stands out as the least-experienced potential candidate named by Don Stapley, chairman of the Board of Supervisors.
The other four named candidates are:
*Former County Attorney Rick Romley,
*Two local lawyers -- Andrew Pacheco and Jay Beckstead,
*And Bill Montgomery, who currently works as a deputy county attorney.
The latter four have extensive, direct experience putting criminals behind bars.
Still, Dunn managed to climb onto the short list and has been very well received. Even Mary Rose Wilcox, the board's only Democrat, sat down with the Republican Dunn at her restaurant, El Portal, to chat about the gig.
Dunn tells us no deals were made.
We asked Dunn how he came to apply for this job, since he reportedly told the Arizona Guardian recently that the supervisors reached out to him.
"They asked me if I'd be interested, and I said if this happens, then get back to me," Guardian reporter Dennis Welch quoted Dunn as saying.
Dunn tells New Times, though, that none of the County Supervisors, or anyone directly connected to the Board, asked to him to inquire about the post.
He says he'd been thinking about his next political moves and had been asking people he knew if they had suggestions. Someone told him to give the supervisors a call about Thomas' position, Dunn says.
He declines to reveal who asked him to call. But he maintains that he essentially cold-called the supervisors, with no knowledge that they might want him to replace Thomas, he says. He doesn't remember which Supervisor's office he called first, but he thinks it might have been Fulton Brock's. Brock represents the county district that covers Chandler.
All of the supervisors know him fairly well, Dunn says, because of his various dealings with them on governmental issues.
Clearly, the supes believe Dunn has the right worldview:
Dunn endorsed Arpaio's opponent, W. Steven Martin, in the 2004 election, and says he knows former Superior Court Presiding Judge Colin Campbell "very well."
"I don't blame [Campbell] for proceeding the way he did," Dunn remarks. "He had a very strong witness [in Sheila Polk]."
No argument from us there.
Dunn also told the East Valley Tribune recently that:
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If he's appointed as Thomas' replacement, he would reexamine the motivation and intent of some actions undertaken by the County Attorney's Office, "whether they have become political or whether evidence exists."
"I certainly would look at each of those lawsuits and examine them as to their purpose and reason," he said.
It sounds like Dunn wiould work much better with the board on the conflicts of the past few years that have plagued the county.
We just wonder if the board members are looking for a new county attorney -- or their new BFF.