By Ray Stern || The Arizona Republic
While the number of Republicans and Democrats in the Arizona Legislature is the same as the past two years, there are now more female lawmakers than any time in the state’s history.
The makeup of the House and Senate also is more ethnically diverse than ever, though with some notable exceptions.
In 2023, Arizona residents from a world of different backgrounds have achieved access into this important place of political power. They’ll bring different ideas to the table — including some overlooked in the past by a historically homogeneous Legislature that was overwhelmingly white and male.
In 2001, only 35% of Arizona lawmakers were women, and 19% came from minority populations. Now, 48% are women, including a majority — 16 of 30 — in the Senate. Thirty-six members, or 40% of all lawmakers, are people of color.
“The diversity in the Arizona Legislature should be celebrated because it represents the diversity of our entire state,” said Rep. Marcelino Quiñonez, D-Phoenix, who won election to office in November after he was appointed in 2021, and is now the House Minority Co-Whip. “This means communities are being heard and electing members who look and sound like them. This is encouraging and should promote more civic engagement in the future.”
The 90 new legislators have diverse occupational experiences, too. They’ve worked as teachers, business owners, political activists or in the real estate business, but there is a range of other day jobs, including pilot, doctor, paramedic, private investigator, rancher and tour bus driver. Their ages range from the 20s to 80.
Republicans in the Legislature also are more diverse, meaning liberals will hear viewpoints they may not expect from people who are the same gender or ethnicity. Seven Republican people of color were elected or reelected in November, up from five in the past two years.