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Fri, Feb. 28

Editorial: Ducey is right; state has too many elected officials

Electing a person to office is no guarantee that person is a “qualified expert” to perform the job to which he or she was elected.

Friday, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey in an address to the American Legislative Exchange Council hinted that some, perhaps, many elected jobs in Arizona would be better filled by a bona fide “qualified expert” that was hired vs. elected.

Ducey’s remarks came amidst the scrutiny given to Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen, who now awaits federal charges relating to an illegal adoption operation.

The problem with revamping the system by which county and state officials are elected in Arizona is the matter of a State Constitution. Re-writing any portion of the State Constitution would be an arduous process prompted by a citizen referendum process that ultimately would have to be validated by popular vote.

You can imagine the lobbying effort that would go into defeating such a ballot measure.

But Ducey is right on this one. The reason? The elective structure of government in Arizona basically dates back to territorial governance in Arizona. When Arizona became a part of the United States of America in 1912, it basically just transitioned its territorial government structure into the new county and state system. In other words, county government in Arizona – ditto for state government – is an archaic system that has not been modernized in 107 years.

Most interestingly at the county level is the fact that the first order of business for any new elected officials is to hire a chief deputy. The chief deputy’s job?

To run the office — which, in many cases, the chief deputy is more qualified to do so than the person elected to run the office. In other words, they are there to make their elected boss look good, and they are paid handsomely for it. That same holds true at the state level where the chief of staff is more integral to the daily operation of the various divisions of state government than is the person elected to oversee those offices.

In the case of Maricopa County’s disgraced elected assessor, instead of electing that person, wouldn’t it make more sense for county governments throughout the state to hire professional land appraisers?

Ditto for the elected county treasurer; doesn’t it make more sense for a professional business manager to be hired and fired based on job performance?

You can go down the list of the elected offices we have in county government and question why do we elect so many different people to do jobs that we don’t even understand.

Admit it, do you know what a county recorder is or does? How about your county constable? Do we really need a county school superintendent when each individual school district employs its own superintendent?

Does the judiciary really need an elected clerk of the Superior Court?

The moral of the story is the one thing government does best is create jobs for itself — far too many.

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