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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    AZ Senate to query Martinez

    David Martinez III
    David Martinez III

    David Martinez III will be in Phoenix today to convince state lawmakers that he is qualified to be the non-voting student regent on the Arizona Board of Regents, although he was scheduled to be confirmed Wednesday.

    The Arizona Senate committee on higher education postponed Martinez’s confirmation hearings because of his involvement on a policy committee at the UA, said Sen. Paula Aboud, D-Tucson, who sits on the legislative committee.

    Martinez said he has spoken with a non-partisan researcher for the Senate about his work on a committee for transgender rights at the UA.

    The campus committee was started under former president Peter Likins by Jeanne Kleespie, head of the UA Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Office, and seeks to expand protections and rights for transgender individuals on campus.

    Martinez serves on the committee in his capacity as a member of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona, and he is also an employee in Kleespie’s office.

    Several of the committee’s actions, such as lobbying for transgender bathrooms and resident hall rooms, have brought it attention during the course of the last year.

    “”I can definitely understand sort of how a red flag goes up,”” Martinez said, but he defended the group as providing the UA with a “”forward-thinking mentality”” that will help the make the campus a more open and accepting place.

    “”It’s something I’m not embarrassed about,”” Martinez said.

    The transgender committee has a representative membership from the campus community, including University of Arizona Police Department Chief Tony Daykin and Sandy Ruhl, president of the alumni association.

    Governor Janet Napolitano appointed Martinez to the position of student regent in March after he was selected by ASUA as one of three candidates for the job. The state Senate must confirm Martinez before his title is official.

    Martinez said he found out about the postponement Tuesday, the day before he was supposed to make the journey to Phoenix for his hearings.

    “”It was a bit of a shock, I’ll be honest,”” Martinez said. “”But it’s part of the process.””

    Martinez said he is scheduling meetings with the members of the higher education committee for today and next week, hoping to be confirmed by the end of this legislative session.

    “”I’m sure David will be confirmed,”” said current student regent Ed Hermes, a graduate of Arizona State University. “”It needs to happen this year.””

    Regent Ernest Calderon said he has seen many political appointees be rejected by the Legislature, but he has never seen it happen with an appointment to the regents.

    Calderon said the sort of delay facing Martinez isn’t uncommon, but he hopes to eventually see him confirmed.

    “”It’s really nothing out of the ordinary,”” said Christine Thompson, the regents’ assistant executive director for governmental affairs, who said that she believes Martinez’s confirmation will come up for a vote this session.

    But the Senate could still defer the vote until the start of their next session, Thompson said.

    If that happens, Martinez could find himself in a situation similar to that of Ben Graff, UA student regent from July 2004 until July 2006.

    Graff was confirmed by the Senate, but only after eight months of waiting. During that time, he was allowed to take part in most aspects of being a regent, but he was not allowed to attend executive session meetings.

    Executive sessions are closed to non-regents, and those sessions are where the most sensitive issues are discussed before they come to a vote at public meetings.

    However, Graff said it is still possible for student regents to perform most of their other duties and they can remain valued members of the state government before they are officially confirmed.

    “”It’s a limited restriction,”” Graff said. “”It doesn’t impair them from serving the state.””

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