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Betty Villegas sworn into AZ House to replace Andrés Cano

By: - July 31, 2023 1:18 pm

Rep. Betty Villegas, D-Tucson, was sworn into office on July 31, 2023, by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Mandell in the Arizona House of Representatives. Screenshot via Arizona Legislature/azleg.gov

Democrat Betty Villegas was sworn in Monday afternoon to the Arizona House of Representatives to fill a vacancy caused when the former leader of the Democratic caucus resigned earlier this month. 

Villegas replaces Andrés Cano in the House as one of the two representatives for District 20, which is largely based in Tucson. Cano, who served as the Democratic leader until shortly before he resigned, gave up his seat to pursue a Masters Degree at Harvard Kennedy School. 

“I look forward to working with all of you. I know that there is a lot of work to do,” Villegas said before a group that included lawmakers, reporters, family and friends. 


Villegas, a housing advocate who formerly worked for Pima County, was chosen by the Pima County Board of Supervisors last week to fill the spot and joins a list of lawmakers appointed this session due to resignations and expulsions

“I’m replacing somebody that is very near and dear to my heart,” Villegas said after her swearing in about Cano, adding that she knew him when he was an intern at Pima County. “I know he was well loved by all of you.”

Minority Leader Lupe Contreras welcomed Villegas to the “familia” and joked that the hug she received from House Speaker Ben Toma would be her “last hug” from the Republican. 

“This is not [a job] that people just jump into. It is not the easiest thing to do,” Contreras said, while congratulating Villegas on her appointment. 

Villegas, a life-long Tucson resident, will serve out the remainder of Cano’s term, which ends in early January 2025. It is unclear if she will run for a full term in the 2024 election; Villegas has not yet filed a statement of interest to seek office. The only person who has declared an interest in seeking one of the two District 20 House seats is Andrew Curley, a Democrat.


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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joined the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.