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Cartoonist Remembers The Fun Of Sketching Arizona's First Female Governor

Cartoon of Rose Mofford
(Cartoon by Steve Benson - The Arizona Republic)
Benson did this cartoon as Mofford transitioned into the governor's office, replacing Evan Mecham. Mecham claimed Arizona's Attorney General had been shooting laser beams at his office in order to eavesdrop on him.

The Arizona Republic political cartoonist Steve Benson isn’t one to hold back his feelings when it comes to public figures. But he’s got nothing but nice things to say about Rose Mofford, Arizona’s first female governor. Mofford died Thursday at the age of 94.

Benson described her as “a motherly, kind and also intelligent, perceptive player on the Arizona scene.”

As a bonus for his work, she also had a great big beehive hairdo.

“And so I would draw it as a Dairy Queen dipped cone, with a little curl on top,” he said.

Benson, who has been at the Republic for 35 years, drew Mofford as she helped guide Arizona through a rough political patch, after the impeachment of Gov. Evan Mecham in 1988. Mofford saw herself as a “servant of the people,” Benson said, without making “a great deal of splash” about it.

“And so it was hard to cartoon her, darn it,” he said. “I mean how can you cartoon politicians that don’t have any splash, you know, who don’t give cartoonists a rash? I mean, she was just a wonderful person. And I don’t say that about most politicians.”

Benson says Mofford was always good natured about his work, and even once gave him one of those mini, personalized licensed plates that you find at souvenir stores.

Now Benson is trying to figure out just the right image to go with a memorial cartoon. Maybe he could sketch her ice cream hairdo melting into a Southwestern sunset.

Or perhaps he could draw a graceful rose petal “kind of wafting down slowly to the ground,” he said.

Whatever inspiration strikes Benson, it will likely be in Friday’s paper.

When senior field correspondent Stina Sieg was 22, she moved to the desert. She hasn’t been the same since. At the time, the Northern California native had just graduated from college and was hankering for wide-open spaces. So she took a leap and wrote to nearly every newspaper in New Mexico until one offered her a job. That’s how she became the photographer for a daily paper in the small town of Silver City. And that’s when she realized how much she loved storytelling. In the years since, the beauty of having people open up and share their stories — and trust her to tell them — has never gotten old to Sieg. Before coming to KJZZ, Sieg was also a writer and photographer at newspapers in Glenwood Springs, Colorado; Moab, Utah; and the Smoky Mountains town of Waynesville, North Carolina. She always had her hand in public radio, too, including hosting Morning Edition on a fill-in basis at WNCW in North Carolina. It’s still the best music station she’s found. When she’s not reporting, chances are Sieg is running, baking, knitting or driving to some far-flung town deep in the desert — just to see what it looks like.