January 6, 2005
Gov. Janet Napolitano’s pick for the new director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety withdrew unexpectedly from the nomination on Wednesday.
David Gonzales, 50, a Republican, said he disagreed with Democrat Napolitano on starting his job this month, which would have meant resigning his current post as U.S. marshal in Arizona.
Napolitano wanted him to begin the five-year appointment when the current director, Dennis Garret, retired Jan. 16.
However, Gonzales had to be confirmed by the Republican-dominated state Senate at a later date in order to make the appointment permanent.
"I didn’t have any qualms about the confirmation process," he said. "But I just feel that you don’t give up something good for something else good unless you’re 100 percent sure."
The Flagstaff native spent most of his law-enforcement career at DPS. When his appointment was announced at a news conference on Nov. 23, more than 300 employees of DPS and other police agencies turned up to applaud the decision.
In an interview that day, Gonzales said he intended to perform a "housecleaning" of the agency’s administrative staff and lobby lawmakers to better fund DPS.
Jack Lane, legislative liaison for DPS, said the announcement Wednesday was a surprise.
"People are spinning over it," he said. "We were really looking forward to him coming over."
Napolitano also was caught off guard. At a news conference Wednesday, a reporter asked her if she foresaw any problems with Gonzales’ confirmation, to which she replied, "No."
After a conversation with Gonzales later in the day, Napolitano quickly launched a search for a new director candidate, said a spokeswoman, Pati Urias. DPS Lt. Col. David Felix will serve as interim director.
Gonzales, who is married and has two teenage children, said he was "sad" the position did not work out.
"Sometimes those things happen in life," he said.
- The Associated Press contributed to this report