It’s not uncommon to hear that our state legislators are at odds with one another. However, almost all of them agreed to refer a question of whether or not Arizona should have a lieutenant governor to the voters.

Currently, the Arizona Constitution names the Secretary of State as next in line if the governor leaves office. The secretary of state also succeeds the governor if the governor dies, is removed from office, impeached, or has a permanent disability and cannot discharge the gubernatorial duties.

The secretary of state is also in charge when the governor is absent from the state or on temporary disability.

Proposition 111 on the Nov. 2 ballot would amend the state constitution to replace the office of Secretary of State with the office of Lieutenant Governor.

Arizona is one of five states that does

not have a lieutenant governor. Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon and Wyoming are the others.

Proposition 111 states that “during the primary election, candidates for lieutenant governor would run separately from candidates for the office of governor. The nominees selected at the primary election for the offices of governor and lieutenant governor from the same political party would then run on a single ticket in the general election.

“In the general election, voters would cast a single vote for a candidate for governor, and that vote would constitute a vote for the lieutenant governor of the same party as well.”

Starting with the 2015 legislative session, the lieutenant governor, elected in the 2014 election, would handle all the duties currently performed by the secretary of state, including becoming governor if that position is vacated during the term of office. Therefore there is no fiscal impact if the voters approve this change.

Supporters believe this makes the line of succession clear if the governor dies or leaves office. The successor would be from the same party as the governor. Changes to the governor’s office during a term would be less disruptive compared to changes if the lieutenant governor is of another party.

Those opposed believe there should be both a secretary of state and a lieutenant governor. They point out the detailed work performed by the secretary of state overseeing elections, business, and matters of the state.

Opponents also believe that if the lieutenant governor assumes the election duties, there is a potential for conflict of interest by having the lieutenant governor overseeing elections for his or her boss, the governor.

Having a separate primary to choose the lieutenant governor could put incompatible running mates together. It would have been a good idea to consider what Utah does: the candidates for governor select their own running mates for lieutenant governor.

Also, there is no preparation for the possibility of an independent candidate despite the ever-growing number of Arizona voters who are registered independents/no declared party. This could cause some future legal challenges.

Legislators interviewed say that Proposition 111 is an incomplete solution to an important issue. For example, the duties are not well outlined for lieutenant governor. The legislature will have a difficult time clarifying this if the referendum passes.

On the other hand, legislators believe that having a lieutenant governor also makes the line of succession clear. They cited the current Arizona situation where Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, left to join the federal government and Secretary of State Jan Brewer, a Republican, took office as prescribed by the Arizona Constitution. This changed the dynamics of state government. Most believe that having a lieutenant governor of the same party as the governor would be advantageous.

Having a lieutenant governor is a good idea, but there is also a need for a secretary of state so there is no conflict of interest in election matters. It would be ideal if the office of secretary of state were nonpartisan. More discussion on the pros and cons of having a lieutenant governor and a survey of other states might have provided a better proposal. But a “yes” vote will make the line of succession more clear.

Contact Carol West at cwwfoster@aol.com. West is currently president of the League of Women Voters of Greater Tucson. She also served on the Tucson City Council from 1999-2007 and was a council aide from 1987-1995.