Arizona Governor Jane Hull yesterday announced a slate of four possible appointees including recently fired Commissioner/Judge Pro Tempore David Colby and County Attorney James Hazel who hope to replace retiring Superior Court Judge Ed Dawson when Hull makes her final determination within the next two weeks.
The new judge's term will begin in Jan. 2002. However, because just one year remains of Dawson's three-year term, the position will be opened to election in Nov. 2002, at which time the appointee will have to defend Hull's selection in the voting booth.
Hull received four applications for the appointment from Colby, Hazel, and Globe lawyers Mark Gunning and Peter J. Cahill.
Interviews of the candidates by Hull are tentatively scheduled for Dec. 13. Meanwhile, the governor's office is soliciting input from the public regarding the candidates, spokespersons have said.
Hull's decision will be observed with intensity in northern Gila County, which is still rocking from Colby's sudden termination this week by Gila County Superior Court Presiding Judge Robert Duber for remarks the commissioner made in the Nov. 27 edition of the Payson Roundup.
In that interview, Colby, a resident of Payson, announced his decision to campaign for Dawson's seat, saying he wanted to end the "unfair treatment" of northern Gila County by those in the county's southern power seat, and that he was more qualified than others who were then said to be seeking the position.
Duber, who terminated Colby for those remarks Monday, later said Colby's information was "incorrect," and that because judges are "held to a higher standard than anyone else," they cannot "express discriminatory or accusatory kinds of things."
Colby defended the accuracy of his statements, as well as his right to publicly address issues as someone seeking a gubernatorial nomination for an elected position.
That debate continues to rage across Payson, over water coolers and on KMOG Radio's call-in talk programs.
Whether Hull will choose to address Colby's firing remains to be seen. However, her office is actively seeking public input as to the overall qualifications of the candidates hoping to fill Dawson's remaining term.
Anyone wishing to submit comments to the governor regarding the appointee candidates can do so through Lisa Daniel Flores, General Counsel to the Governor, 1700 W. Washington St., 9th Floor, Phoenix, AZ 85007. Or you can e-mail Flores at firstname.lastname@example.org. All comments must be submitted by Dec. 11.