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Candidates for Maricopa County Attorney rush to gather signatures in short window

Maricopa County recruiting medical examiners; offering money back for schooling
Posted at 7:16 PM, Mar 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-23 13:40:57-04

Allister Adel announced her resignation on Monday, March 21.

The next day, a candidate had already been officially declared, saying she qualified for the special election to finish out the remaining two years of Adel's term.

Less than 24 hours after Adel's abrupt resignation, following a tumultuous year, multiple candidates from various parties filed 'statements of interest' to take over her office.

The lone Democrat is Julie Gunnigle, who was narrowly defeated by Adel in the 2020 election.

The Republican field is more crowded with three early hopefuls for the ballot.

Anni Foster is currently the General Counsel for Governor Doug Ducey.

Gina Godbehere is the City of Goodyear Prosecutor and worked for MCAO for 25 years, including more than a decade as a bureau chief.

James Austin Woods is a Valley attorney, and son of the late Grant Woods, who was the Arizona Attorney General for eight years.

On Wednesday morning, prosecutor Rachel Mitchell also announced her candidacy for the position.

There is one Libertarian candidate who has filed paperwork, Michael Kielsky. He will need to gather the least amount of signatures, 2,389, in the short two-week time period.

Republicans hoping to make the ballot need 4,528 signatures and Democrats need 4,289.

In roughly 24 hours, Gunnigle announced on Twitter she had hit the qualifying number thanks to the online system E-Qual, which uses motor vehicle records and voter's driver's license information to verify their 'signature' on the petition.

"I think it speaks to the fact that people are ready for reform and recognize the power of this office to affect the lives of the 4.4 million Maricopa [County] residents," said Gunnigle.

Gunnigle said the E-Qual system, which was not an option at the county level during her 2020 signature gathering, has been a game-changer.

"It took me every moment from when I declared in July 2019 to March 2020 to get 6,000 on-paper, in-person signatures," said Gunnigle. "So this would’ve been months of work - being at festivals, street fairs and going door-to-door."

ABC15 reached out to other candidates to check on their progress and see if they had comment on the two-week rush to get on the ballot.

A spokesperson for Foster said her campaign is confident they will qualify for the ballot using both E-Qual and in-person signatures.


Today, I am announcing my candidacy for Maricopa County Attorney. For the past thirty years, I’ve dedicated my career to protecting families by prosecuting crimes against children, ensuring the integrity of our legal system, and leading teams of prosecutors holding dangerous criminals accountable.

It is now time to use those thirty years of experience to rebuild the integrity and management of this office to ensure public safety. As the next county attorney, I will not be learning the job while doing the job. I know firsthand just how much work there is to be done and I look forward to beginning this work on day one.

I have demonstrated what it means to lead with integrity, no matter the personal or professional cost. My focus has always been and will always be about public confidence in our justice system and not about politics. Experience matters.

Today, I humbly and confidently announced my candidacy as the person who both understands the organization and the job at hand, with the experience and skills necessary to take the helm on day one. The public must know that the Maricopa County Attorney is a fair-minded advocate for justice with a record to offer that confidence. My years as a prosecutor, combined with my commitment to the youth of our state, have provided a very clear picture of my core values and heart to do what is right within our community. I have recording an outpouring of support and a countywide team of volunteers is actively collecting signatures in person and online, I respectfully ask for the support of the community as I seek this office.

“Like all Arizonans, I’m praying for my friend Allister Adel as she transitions out of her role as County Attorney. As we move forward, it’s important to have an experienced, qualified individual leading the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. I bring nearly two decades of experience dealing with the issues facing Arizona and Maricopa County, and experience leading large teams of attorneys. For much of my career, I’ve worked directly with law enforcement, and even trained them on the law. Those that must interact with the County Attorney’s Office are often having some of the most difficult times of their lives. Aside from my legal background, I come at this position as a mom and as a cancer survivor – I know the decisions and actions made by the County Attorney’s office have an impact on real people, and I will dedicate myself to protecting the rule of law and ensuring justice for all.”