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As Arizona Selects New Game And Fish Commissioner, Groups Watch Process Closely

Robert Mansell
(Photo via azgfdportal.az.gov)
The new commissioner will be taking over for Robert Mansell, whose five-year term ends this year.

The Arizona governor’s office is seeking a new commissioner for the state’s main wildlife regulatory body. The Arizona Game and Fish Commission makes policies for wide range of activities in Arizona from hunting and fishing, to some law enforcement and boating. With that much authority, several organizations are closely watching the process.

The new commissioner will be taking over for Robert Mansell, whose five-year term ends this year. According to the governor’s office, qualified candidates will be “someone who is well informed and passionate about Arizona wildlife.”

So what’s involved with the application process? The digital application form is on the governor’s website. It asks a few basic employment and identification questions and requires a resume for successful completion.

Ducey spokesman Daniel Ruiz added there are a few restrictions to keep in mind.

"So we have representation from all 15 counties. For this application, folks that aren’t able to apply are residents of Apache, Coconino, Maricopa and Yuma," he said.

The state also has limits on how many of the commission’s members can belong to a certain political party, however, this time that’s not a factor. The deadline is Oct. 7. After that, Ruiz said the next step is the commission’s appointment recommendation board.

"And they will have the opportunity to interview applicants and narrow it down to at least two and no more than five folks that the governor can consider," said Ruiz. 

It may sound simple, but the process is a big deal for many organizations.

"Wildlife in Arizona is multifaceted," said Steven Clark, the executive director of the Arizona Elk Society. "As are the people that support the wildlife and we need to be cognizant of that issue when making these types of decisions and things.

He said when the application window opens, his group does their best to spread the word through social media and email blasts.

"Not only that we can try to reach out to someone that might want to put in for the position, but we can also monitor the people that are putting in to see if there’s a big push toward one side or another," said Clark.

The Sierra Club’s Sandy Bahr said her organization will also be closely watching this process and encouraging many of their members to apply. But she said lately, it’s been hard to get too excited about the whole process

"When we ask someone to apply, we have to tell them that it’s a long shot," said Bahr. "Now it seems like it’s very hard to even get an interview with the current recommendation board."

Bahr takes issue with the recommendation board, which is a relatively new addition to the selection process. It was created by the Arizona Legislature in 2010 and supporters argue it’s a good way to pare down the number of candidates.

"To have a review board go through those and find those that are more qualified than the others we think is a good thing," said Jim Unmacht, president of Arizona Sportsmen For Wildlife Conservation.

The Sierra Club also contends that what the board is looking for isn’t very transparent. But Gov. Ducey’s office disagrees.

Spokesman Daniel Ruiz points out before any decisions are made, the board hosts a public forum to get a better feel for the issues Arizonans are concerned about.

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Carrie Jung Senior Field Correspondent, Education Desk Carrie Jung began her public radio career in Albuquerque, N.M., where she fell in love with the diverse cultural scene and unique political environment of the Southwest. Jung has been heard on KJZZ since 2013 when she served as a regular contributor to the Fronteras Desk from KUNM Albuquerque. She covered several major stories there including New Mexico's Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage and Albuquerque's failed voter initiative to ban late-term abortions. Jung has also contributed stories about environmental and Native American issues to NPR's Morning Edition, PRI's The World, Al Jazeera America, WNYC's The Takeaway, and National Native News. She earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's in marketing, both from Clemson University. When Jung isn't producing content for KJZZ she can usually be found buried beneath mounds of fabric and quilting supplies. She recently co-authored a book, "Sweet And Simple Sewing," with her mother and sister, who are fabric designers.