Saying her new job is too demanding, state Sen. Linda Lopez said Thursday she will resign from the Legislature no later than next month.
The Tucson Democrat said she started working last month as director of children and family services for Easter Seals Blake Foundation.
“This is a really, really, really big job that I absolute love because it takes me back to the kind of work that I did before I got into the Legislature,” Lopez told Capitol Media Services. And she said the job gives her a chance to have a “direct impact” on children and families.
“It just does not fit with being a legislator,” Lopez said. “You just cannot do this job part time.”
Lopez said her decision to leave has nothing to do with what amounted to a coup by Senate Democrats last month where they toppled Leah Landrum Taylor as the minority leader.
Lopez, who was the No. 2 Democrat, had already announced she intended to quit the leadership post. She said what subsequently occurred with putting a new Democratic leadership team in place “just made it easier” to decide to quit the Senate entirely.
The exact timing will depend on how it affects her retirement.
As a legislator she is a member of the Elected Officials Retirement Plan. The benefits are computed based on years of service.
Lopez said since her service started the second week of January in 2001, she likely would need to stay through the second week of 2014 to have that additional year of service credited to her.
In general, the elected party precinct committeemen and women make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors for a replacement.
Lopez said there are not enough elected precinct workers, so the board itself will get to choose who it wants. But Brad Nelson, Pima County's elections director, told the Arizona Daily Star that he believes there are enough — if just barely — to make the recommendation.
The only requirement, other than residency in the legislative district, is that the replacement be a Democrat like Lopez.
Lopez served eight years in the House — the maximum allowed under constitutional term limits — before moving to the Senate in the 2008 election. She also served 18 years on the board of the Sunnyside Unified School District, some of that contemporaneously with her time as a legislator.