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Mayes reflects on legal battle and recount, sets future priorities

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Krismayes.com/Lisa Sturgis, KAWC
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Yuma, Ariz. (KAWC) - This morning Kris Mayes took the oath of office and became Arizona’s 27th Attorney General, and the first member of the LGBTQ community to hold the office.

Mayes takes office after winning a protracted legal battle, and an automatic recount that made her race one of the closest in Arizona history...with a margin of just 280 votes.

KAWC’S Lisa Sturgis spoke to Mayes shortly after she learned the results of that recount to look back on the election and ahead to the goals she aims to accomplish.

Click the “listen” button above to hear the conversation. Here's a transcription:

Lisa Sturgis, KAWC: "You are the lawyer for the people, so you obviously have an understanding of the legal process. Was it kind of agonizing, like waiting, though and going through the whole process? "

Kris Mayes, Arizona Attorney General: "Yeah, there was a lot to make it through. Obviously, we were thrown into an automatic recount situation by statute, and then that's what was just unveiled. And then we were sued by my former opponents. And we defeated him up in Mojave County and successfully defended the results of the election in that case. So it's been a long process. I know, it's been a long process for everybody. I know, there are a lot of folks that that are watching and waiting for this to happen." 

Sturgis: "Sunday is New Year's and Monday you take the oath of office... "

Mayes: "Yes, we're, we feel pretty, pretty ready to hit the ground running, we have been assembling a team in the background for the last month or so. You know, just so that we are ready, we wanted to make sure that we, on day one, we walk into this office ready to do work on behalf of the people of Arizona. So we have already made a number of hires, we're gonna walk in with a great team. So, we feel ready. It was, you know, it was tough. We had a lot of balls in the air all at once. But we think we pulled it off pretty successfully. So we're just we're just glad to be where we are."

Sturgis: "So what is your day one top priority? "

Mayes: "We have a lot of them, Lisa. But you know, I on day one, I am going to reverse the position of the state of Arizona that was taken by Mark Brnovich. In that 1864 abortion case, I'm going to declare that the 1864 abortion ban is unconstitutional. And so I will reverse the position of the state of Arizona in that case, and we will oppose that 1864 abortion ban. We are also going to get to work on consumer fraud and tackling consumer fraud and put more resources and more time inside the office on that issue. I'm going to work on this Saudi water grab issue in Western Arizona and declare that that is an unconstitutional violation of the Arizona gift clause a decision by the Ducey administration to give water to a Saudi owned Corporation in Western Arizona so that that Saudi on corporation can grow alfalfa, I think it's ridiculous and unconstitutional. So there's a lot that we'll be doing on on day one. "

Sturgis: "Kris Mayes, Attorney General-elect thank you so much for your time."

Mayes: "Thank you, Lisa. And I will say I'm going to be in Yuma County a lot. I'll be there. I will hold office hours I will be available to the press and the people of Yuma County. It's a great county. It's a wonderful place to live and we're going to make sure that we are there to protect the people of Yuma County and all the people of the state of Arizona."

Mayes’ race was close, but there is one that was even closer.

Only 30 votes separated the candidates in Arizona’s first gubernatorial election back in 1916.

The state actually operated with two governors for about a month while the courts reviewed the results.

Lisa Sturgis’ return to KAWC brings her journalistic career full circle. Uncle Bob Hardy gave Lisa her first exposures to reporting back in the 1980s. She went on to spend more than three decades in TV news before making the decision to come home to NPR.