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Political Notebook: Napier, working in Cochise and Pima, helped anti-Magnus effort

When the Arizona Sheriffs Association composed a strongly worded letter opposing Chris Magnus’ nomination to head Customs and Border Protection, it had help from a former Pima County sheriff working in Cochise County.

Or is that a former Cochise County sheriff’s employee working in Pima County?

Actually, it’s both: The man in question is Mark Napier, who narrowly lost his effort at reelection as Pima County sheriff in 2020.

After losing that election, Napier went to work as chief deputy for Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels. Then, on Aug. 2, Napier returned to work for Pima County, this time as an assistant county administrator overseeing the office of emergency management, public defense services, facilities management and interoperable communication systems.

Apparently, while taking on the $152,000 per year Pima County job, he hadn’t finished the Cochise County gig, though. On Oct. 4, he sent an email to a list of Arizona sheriffs and their deputies, who were composing a draft of a letter on behalf of the Arizona Sheriffs Association opposing Magnus’ nomination.

Writing from a Cochise County email address, still identifying as chief deputy, Napier wrote:

“I think it might be good to add that he has made disparaging comments about the very organization he now seeks to lead. Further, that in his several years as a chief of a community very close to the border he has never engaged in any border-related discussions or expressed any interest in proactively addressing public safety issues resulting from the lack of security on our southern border.

“Finally, that to the best of our knowledge he has never actually toured the border or actively engaged in any interest at all in developing a firm understanding of the national security, humanitarian or public safety threats associated with the border. Lastly, he has had a failed administration as a chief of a near border community.”

Magnus addressed some of these criticisms, though not directly in response to the letter, during a hearing on his nomination Tuesday before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee. He discussed visiting the Canadian and Mexican borders and dealing with immigration-related issues as chief of Tucson police.

In a text Thursday, Magnus wrote, “I always thought Mark Napier and I had a good relationship based on mutual respect, so I was surprised and disappointed by his comments.”

On Thursday, Napier explained, “Sheriff Dannels asked me to distill some thoughts that some of the border sheriffs had.”

“When I took the position here, I was transitioning between the two,” Napier said. Helping with the letter “was basically the last thing I did down there.”

As to the sheriffs association, the members approved a letter and sent it off addressed to President Biden at the White House, though it opens with “Dear Senator Sinema.”

Sheriff Paul Penzone of Maricopa County, Chris Nanos of Pima County and David Hathaway of Santa Cruz County, all Democrats, declined to participate in or support the letter, and Nanos and Hathaway sent their own letters of support for Magnus. The association is headed by two Republicans — Dannels of Cochise County and Sheriff Mark Lamb of Pinal County.

Napier, it turned out, had stayed on as a quarter-time employee with Cochise County, finishing up a few projects, said Carol Capas, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s department. He submitted his resignation in early October.

LD10 Dems

to pick again

The Legislative District 10 Democrats will have to repeat a process they just went through now that Stephanie Stahl Hamilton has been picked to move into congressional candidate Kirsten Engel’s place in the state Senate.

Stahl Hamilton represents that district in the state House now, so when she resigns from the House, the countdown begins to pick a slate of possible replacements for her.

Diane Nevill, who chairs the LD10 Dems, said she expects to have the meeting for selecting a slate of three candidates sometime in mid-November. Among those planning to submit for the seat is Tom Chabin, who put his name in for Engel’s seat and in any case plans to run for the Legislature next year.

Another is Morgan Abraham. He had previously filed to run for state House next year but supported Stahl Hamilton for the Senate seat. Now he will be seeking to replace her in the House.

After the LD 10 Democrats pick their slate of three candidates, the names go to the chair of the Arizona Democratic Party, who then sends them to the Pima County Board of Supervisors. That could happen in late November at the earliest, but more likely in December.

Boycott begins

A resident of unincorporated Pima County announced this week a plan to boycott Tucson while making big purchases, in response to the increase in water rates that the city is scheduled to impose soon on residents of unincorporated areas of the county.

Curtis Lueck told Tucson Mayor Regina Romero and the City Council in a letter sent Monday that he is starting an effort called Boycott Tucson Sales Tax. The idea is to encourage residents of the unincorporated county areas to make their big-ticket purchases outside the city and let the council know that’s why.

“The unincorporated population is significant. It’s a fairly large buying bloc as well,” Lueck said Thursday. “We’re basically backed into a corner. The best way for us to make noise is in the general fund.”

He said the effort will encourage residents to continue supporting independent local businesses in the city while buying cars, dishwashers and other big items outside the city. He can be reached by email at

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