Supervisors pick Donahue to fill Ward's vacant seat

She says she doesn't plan to run for a full term

Sue Donahue, left, talks with Mohave County Supervisor Hildy Angius after the board appointed Donahue to fill the state Senate seat vacated by Kelli Ward. Donahue is a former administrative assistant for Supervisor Buster Johnson. (HUBBLE RAY SMITH/Miner)

Sue Donahue, left, talks with Mohave County Supervisor Hildy Angius after the board appointed Donahue to fill the state Senate seat vacated by Kelli Ward. Donahue is a former administrative assistant for Supervisor Buster Johnson. (HUBBLE RAY SMITH/Miner)

KINGMAN - The Mohave County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday selected Sue Donahue of Lake Havasu City to fill the state Senate seat vacated by Kelli Ward.

Ward, R-Lake Havasu City, announced earlier in December that she would resign her seat as part of a challenge to incumbent U.S. Sen. John McCain in the 2016 Republican primary.

Supervisors interviewed three nominees from the Mohave County Republican Party and voted 4-0, with Chairman Steve Moss absent, to appoint Donahue to the legislative position until the election in November.

"My position with the county gives me the best insight into what we need in Phoenix," said Donahue, who recently retired after working 13 years as Supervisor Buster Johnson's administrative assistant.

"I'll work very hard to bring back what we need in Mohave County and La Paz County. I've been exposed to the legislative process in Phoenix and I'm committed to do the job."

Supervisor Hildy Angius asked Donahue if she would state publicly that she has no intention to run for the senate office.

"Absolutely," Donahue responded.

Rep. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, and former state Sen. Ron Gould have announced they will run for the political position.

Supervisor Gary Watson noted that legislators' pay is pretty low, and wanted to know if Donahue was prepared to pay out-of-pocket expenses.

Donahue said she has relatives she can stay with in Phoenix, so she won't have to rent an apartment. She receives income from Social Security and the Arizona State Retirement System.

Donahue previously ran for Mohave County supervisor, but did not win election and has never held public office.

Johnson said people with no experience are frequently elected to office and most of them do a good job.

Johnson also cleared the air on a "fairy tale" he heard about orchestrating the nomination of Donahue and LaJuana Gillette.

The supervisor said he had no contact with Donahue or Gillette, and he had no contact with Gould. He also did not carry any proxy votes by precinct committee members of the Mohave County Republican Party.

Angius, who is second vice chairman of the Republican Party, said Robert Graham, chairman of the Arizona Republican Party, came to Lake Havasu City and ran a "professional meeting."

Supervisor Jean Bishop said she was also at the meeting and everything was conducted in a legal and appropriate manner. She was disappointed with the small turnout of precinct committee members.

The meeting was called on short notice too close to Christmas, said George Schnittgrund, the third nominee. A lot of precinct committee members were working or traveling out of town.

"Sue's a great candidate. She'll do a great job," he said.

Schnittgrund, a freight broker who's lived in Lake Havasu City since 2002, ran unsuccessfully against Borrelli for state representative in 2012 and 2014.

Gillette, a former corrections officer and member of the London Bridge Republican Women's Club, said she would love to have been appointed to the Senate seat because she's heavily involved in politics.

She's on the executive board of the Arizona Federation of Republican Women and also made a run at Borrelli in 2012 and 2014.

Borrelli said the "back and forth" bickering among Republican precinct committee members is doing the party no good, and that supervisors made a good decision in appointing Donahue.

"She's tuned to county issues and that's a great asset to bring to the table," Borrelli said. "And she's working to be on Mohave County's team. I don't want a placeholder. I want somebody who's going to work for the county and be a productive member."