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Democrats select 3 candidates to replace Jennifer Longdon in Arizona House

Phoenix Democrats met on Monday night to nominate three candidates to fill a vacant House seat in Legislative District 5. 

Democrats nominated Sarah Liguori, elections and voting rights attorney Mark Robert Gordon and progressive activist Brianna Westbrook. One of the three will be chosen by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to replace former Representative Jennifer Longdon, who resigned last month.

Liguori previously served in the House when she replaced former Representative Aaron Lieberman in 2021, when he resigned to run for governor. But she lost her reelection bid in 2022 to Longdon and Amish Shah, who also resigned last week to run for Congress

“At the Legislature, I was quickly able to build trusting relationships on both sides of the aisle while standing steadfast in my progressive values,” Liguori said. “I could call out and kill bills based on culture wars and see success in being able to move policy.”  

Gordon emphasized the need for a candidate with the experience to hit the ground running at the Legislature to tackle big issues like climate change, school funding and protecting democratic institutions.

“I have 40 years experience working on behalf of you, on behalf of candidates from the time I was a kid here knocking doors to becoming a staff member to [former State Superintendent] Carolyn Warner to working on the hill for Mo Udall,” Gordon said. 

Westbrook said, if appointed, she will take up policies supported by Longdon, including gun control measures. She also plans to focus on the housing and homeless crisis and improving access to mental health care for people dealing with addiction. 

She said she experienced homelessness in the district as a child.

“These are real issues that still affect families in our district today,” Westbrook said. 

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors must now meet to select Longdon’s replacement from that list of three nominees.

LD5 Democrats also attempted to vote on nominees to replace Shah. They initially selected Liguori and Gordon as nominees for that position as well, but could not agree on the third candidate. 

Arizona Democratic Party Chair Yolanda Bejarano said that means the local party will have to redo the entire Shah replacement vote. She said they will vote again at a later date.

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Wayne Schutsky is a broadcast field correspondent covering Arizona politics on KJZZ. He has over a decade of experience as a journalist reporting on local communities in Arizona and the state Capitol.