Governor Katie Hobbs has forwarded and political pal Anna Tovar’s name as Director of Educator despite her current $79,500-a-year position as a utility regulator on the Arizona Corporation Commission. In a move deemed “unusual but not illegal,” Senate President Warren Petersen acknowledged that he would not refer Tovar’s appointment to the newly created Committee on Director Nominations led by Sen. Jake Hoffman. Petersen cited fundamental differences with the other Hobbs appointments, namely that the Department of Education role is not considered a top state agency. Accordingly, she will be referred to the “relevant committee” for oversight instead.
Republicans created Hoffman’s committee in response to Hobbs’ end-run around the state’s Senate approval process for agency heads, creating special “executive deputy directors.” This move allowed Hobbs to select temporary one-year appointments without Senate oversight, which Hoffman describes as “illegal.” In Tovar’s case, the Senate Education Committee, led by Sen. Ken Bennett, is responsible for reviewing her fitness for the position. Bennett is particularly suited to handle the oversight, having served for seven years on the Board of Education, with two as its President.
Bennett signaled that he would not object to Tovar’s dual role, citing several others currently sitting on the eleven-member board who hold other full-time positions, including the President of a state university, the owner and administrator of a charter school, a classroom teacher, and a county school superintendent. He also acknowledged that during his tenure on the Education Board, he had concurrently served as the full-time CEO of Bennett Oil. State statutes do not preclude such dual service.
Tovar, a Democrat, touts an abundance of qualifying experience, having taught for five years in the Tolleson Elementary School District, serving in the state House and Senate, including as Senate minority leader, and previously serving on the Tolleson city council before being elected mayor. Tovar is set to fill one of the four “public” member seats, replacing Gov. Ducey-appointee Christine Burton, who left the board this past January.
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