Vania Guevara, a former District 5 city staffer, was selected as the interim council member for that district during a special meeting Wednesday.
The council voted 4-3 to appoint Guevara, 31, to the council seat left open when Daniel Valenzuela resigned last month to run for mayor. Council members Sal DiCiccio and Michael Nowakowski and Vice Mayor Jim Waring voted against her appointment.
Valenzuela was Guevara’s boss the last time she worked in City Hall, but now she’ll have his old office on the 11th floor.
“I respect all of you enormously. You’re people that I want to work with, and I seek your advice,” Guevara told the council following her appointment. “I’m at a loss for words and I’m really overwhelmed with gratitude, and I consider myself and my family, my community around me, to be very, very blessed. Thank you for the opportunity, and I won’t let you down.”
Since leaving the city in 2017, Guevara has graduated from Arizona Summit Law School and substitute teaches in the Washington and Pendergast elementary school districts.
Guevara is a first-generation Salvadoran American and also holds a Masters of Public Administration and Bachelors in Political Science.
Guevara is a board member at the Maryvale Family YMCA and a member of the Hispanic Bar Association and Latina Mentoring Project, according to her resume.
Guevara beat out five other candidates for the position: Audrey Bell-Jenkins, Betty Guardado, Lydia Hernandez, Justin Johnson and Arian Mohammad.
She’ll have to do beat them again if she wants to hold on to the position long-term. All five losing candidates and Nathan Schick, who did not apply for the interim appointment, have filed paperwork to run for the District 5 position.
That election is planned for March 12, 2019, but could require a runoff election on May 21, 2019.
Guevara’s appointment could give her a leg up on the campaign trail, as she’ll have the opportunity to gain political clout prior to the election.
Phoenix City Hall’s shake-up
Valenzuela’s resignation, Guevara’s appointment and other expected shake-ups at City Hall have been triggered by Mayor Greg Stanton’s resignation in May to run for Congress.
Councilwoman Kate Gallego will also resign Aug. 7 to run for mayor. The council will appoint an interim council member to her seat and the city will host an election for District 8 in March as well.
The mayoral election will be held Nov. 6, with a possible runoff in March. In addition to Valenzuela and Gallego, Republican Moses Sanchez and Libertarian Nicholas Sarwark are running for the city’s top spot.
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