The Pima County Board of Supervisors this morning appointed Nicholas Fontana, a Tucson attorney who has worked with Tucson and Southern Arizona's Native American Tribes, to fill the House of Representatives seat left empty by Rep. Daniel Patterson.
Patterson, who was elected to Tucson's south-side Legislative District 29 as a Democrat in 2008 and 2010, left the Party after Democratic leaders started calling for him to resign amid allegations of wide-ranging ethics violations.
When he quit the House earlier this month to avoid being thrown out, Patterson was still registered "no party preference" commonly referred to as independent, and the Secretary of the State declared the seat would have to be filled by an independent.
Fontana is a Tucson native, the sole partner at his own law office and judge pro tem for the Tohono O'odham Tribal Court. He has worked as the chief public defender for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, as a public defender for the City of Tucson and a public defender for Pima County.
"Although the leadership is anxious to adjourn the 50th Legislature, a great deal of important work remains to be done," he said in his application letter. "The Legislature has not adopted a budget and is still considering issues such as tax cuts for businesses, insurance coverage for contraceptives, and Governor Brewer's proposal for changes to the civil service system. The person selected to serve the citizens of Legislative District 29 in (the) Legislature will have to hit the ground running."
Supervisors chair Ramon Valadez said that after talking with a lot of people in the district, he wanted Leon Sierra, a business representative to the International Union of Operating Engineers, to fill the seat. But his motion was shot down on a 2-3 vote. Supervisor Sharon Bronson made the motion to appoint Fontana, which passed 3-2.