Allister Adel selected over accomplished prosecutors
The front page headline declares: “1st woman named county attorney.” A citizen’s committee doing the job that should have fallen to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, vetted the applicants to fill the top position left vacant when longtime elected County Attorney Bill Montgomery was appointed to the Arizona Supreme Court. The supervisors then named Montgomery’s replacement.
The list was pared down to five applicants, three of whom were experienced prosecutors, with backgrounds as bureau or division chiefs in one of the nation’s largest prosecutorial agencies, serving over 4 million residents in the fourth largest and fasted growing county in the U.S.
According to the County Attorney’s website, there are over 900 full-time employees, including attorneys, investigators, paralegals, victim advocates and support staff.
One of the applicants, a former chief deputy, was currently serving as interim county attorney. Another applicant has experience as a criminal section chief at the United States Attorney’s Office. There was one male among the five applicants.
Selected to run the massive prosecutorial office was Allister Adel, who provides consulting services for nonprofits and small businesses. She worked for the Arizona Department of Transportation and the Arizona Department of Child Safety. Her bio lists her work with the City of Phoenix “to fund a fellowship space and butterfly garden at Starfish Place, a transitional housing facility for trafficking survivors and their families.” Adel previously served a short stint for the office she will now lead. She will have to run to retain the office in 2021.
Arizona has long been in the forefront of having capable women in high ranking positions. Lorna Lockwood — born in 1903 in the Arizona territory — is notable for being the first woman in the nation to become Chief Justice of a state Supreme Court serving in that capacity twice. She passed the bar in 1925 and was a state legislator and Superior Court Judge before ascending to the Arizona Supreme Court in 1960 — paving the nearly identical career path Sandra O’Connor eventually took to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Our state legislature and judicial branch are filled with women and Arizona has had four female governors. Women have been elected secretary of state, attorney general, state treasurer, and superintendent of public instruction. In 1998, Arizona women known as the ‘Fab Five,’ held all top offices simultaneously, a national first. In 1944, Jewel Jordan served as Maricopa County Sheriff.
Gender is no longer a groundbreaking issue. The people of Maricopa County deserved to have the County Attorney’s vacancy filled by an experienced prosecutor, rising from within the ranks of the office. That person is not Allister Adel.