Chandler Councilwoman Nora Ellen has become the first candidate to jump into the political scramble that is likely to mark next year’s state and local elections, making it a case of like son, like mother.
Ellen last week announced she is running for the Legislative District 17 seat now occupied by her son – House Speaker J.D. Mesnard.
Mesnard is termed out and planning to run for the seat now occupied by Senate President Steve Yarbrough, who also is termed out in a district that covers most of Chandler as well as parts of Gilbert and Mesa.
Ellen, a Realtor who was re-elected to her second and last term on the council last year, said that even though her son helped become the top vote-getter in her first run for council in 2012, all three LD 17 legislators are her honorary co-chairs, including state Rep. Jeff Weninger.
“I have a good relationship with all three of them and I expect to be relying on them equally,” Ellen told the Tribune.
Weninger, who is seeking reelection to the House, said Yarbrough is retiring and not planning to run for a chance to succeed longtime Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny, who also is termed out.
“He is retiring,” Weninger said, adding that so far, Vice Mayor Kevin Hartke and former councilman Martin Sepulveda are eyeing a run to succeed Tibshraeny.
Ironically, Ellen until recently had been unable to vote for her son because she lived in a small part of west Chandler that is outside LD 17.
But she moved, largely as a result of downsizing and a desire to be closer to her kids, she said. She also wanted to be closer to City Hall and “most of my life is more in the east” rather than the western part of the city.
Though the legislative primary elections are about 10 months away, Ellen said she made the announcement now on the advice of her honorary campaign co-chairs.
Ellen, who has been active in the community for nearly three decades, championed her work on economic issues as well as her creation of Operation Welcome Home, which welcomes Chandler military personnel who are returning from service overseas.
She also is working with businesses and educators to promote angel investing to ensure greater success for students and start-up businesses.
“I have enjoyed serving on the Chandler City Council and want to take the successful work I have done in Chandler to the state level,” she added.