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Five finalists named for Maricopa County attorney post

By: - October 1, 2019 5:08 pm

Photo by Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Arizona Mirror

A citizen panel created to help select who will replace Bill Montgomery as Maricopa County attorney has submitted a list of its five top candidates for the job.

The seven-member panel, which was created by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in September, selected: Allister Adel, Lacy Cooper, John Eliason, Gina Godbehere and Rachel Mitchell.

Mitchell has been the acting county attorney since Montgomery was appointed to the Arizona Supreme Court. Montgomery had been county attorney since 2010.

The Board of Supervisors will meet in executive session Wednesday and is expected to make a decision on who will fill the seat until the next election either Wednesday or Thursday. 

“We had many qualified candidates,” Arizona Corporation Commissioner Boyd Dunn, one of the members of the citizens advisory panel, said before the finalists were announced. “It was a difficult task.” 

Not included among the finalists were Chris DeRose, who briefly served as clerk of the county court after being appointed in 2018; former Tucson city councilman Rodney Glassman, who last year failed to become a corporation commissioner; and lobbyist John Kaites, a one-time state legislator and candidate for attorney general.

The board is under no obligation to pick the next county attorney from among the finalists selected by the citizen panel.

Allister Adel is currently an adviser to non-profits, a member of the Arizona State Bar Ethics Advisory Group, the City of Phoenix Judicial Selection Advisory Board and has served as the Executive Director for the Maricopa County Bar Association. 

Lacy Cooper works with the United States Attorney’s Office as the General Crimes Section Chief, which has focused heavily on immigration-related cases. She also previously worked in the Gila County Attorney’s Office, where she supervised all misdemeanor offenses committed in northern Gila County from 2008 until 2013. 

Jon Eliason is the Major Crimes Division Chief for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and was overheard about his ambitions for the job in a coffee shop by the Phoenix New Times earlier this year. He is a career prosecutor who serves on the Governor’s Commission to Prevent Violence Against Women, the Arizona Forensic Academy and the Arizona Foundation for Women. 

Gina Godbehere also works at the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and is the Northwest Valley bureau chief for the Community Based Prosecution Division. She is also involved in a non-profit aimed at alerting children to the warning signs of depression and suicide.

The seven-person panel consisted of community leaders, attorneys and judges, and spent the last two weeks reviewing the applicants to replace Montgomery.

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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joined the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.