Hobbs unexpectedly fires the entire Arizona-Mexico Commission board of directors

By Lauren Gilger, Kendal Blust
Published: Wednesday, February 22, 2023 - 10:29am
Updated: Wednesday, February 22, 2023 - 4:48pm

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Last week, new Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs sent shockwaves through the Arizona business community when she canceled a slew of last-minute contracts former Gov. Doug Ducey had secured for them just before he left office — calling them illegal. 

Now many of those same folks are reeling again from Hobbs' most recent move to fire en masse the entire board of directors for the Arizona-Mexico Commission. The commission is a powerful body that works to strengthen business and political ties between Arizona and our neighbor to the South and was stacked with influential people on those fronts. Until now. 

Hank Stephenson of the Arizona Agenda has been writing about it all and he joins The Show. 

Hank Stephenson
Katie Campbell/KJZZ
Hank Stephenson

The commission works to strengthen business, trade and cultural ties with neighboring Sonora, which has its own cross-border council.

"I’m telling you, we’re the envy of lots of border states that don’t have this relationship with their counterparts," said Jaime Chamberlain, is a produce distributor in Nogales, Arizona and served as commission secretary until he was dismissed in an email last Friday.

It was a shock, he said. Many members had been on the board for years — even decades — and their relationships and ongoing projects with partners in Sonora and across Mexico are what make the commission so successful.

“Those committee members keep on working no matter who the governor is,” he said. “That’s the the value and the beauty of this type of organization.”

Still, he acknowledges that Hobbs is within her rights and he said he does plan to reapply to serve on the commission board, something Hobbs’ office said all previous members are welcome to do as the governor sets a new direction for the commission.

In a statement, Hobbs' office said that turnover is normal, and that the governor is making changes because she sees Mexico as a "major economic and cultural partner."

The governor "wanted to review the current board and make some initial direction calls for (the Arizona-Mexico Commission) prior to the board actually meeting for the first time under this administration," the statement said. "We expect it to take at least a month for us to receive and review applications and make those decisions."

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