TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - After an emotional morning honoring the life and public service of Supervisor Richard Elías, who passed away March 28, 2020, the Pima County Board of Supervisors at its April 7 meeting appointed Betty Villegas to fill the remainder of his term, which expires in December of 2020.
Villegas, a Tucson native and a 23-year Pima County employee who retired in 2018 as the county’s affordable housing director, is not among those who filed to run in the 2020 election for the District 5 Supervisor seat. She will assume the duties of the District 5 County Supervisor immediately.
Villegas submitted a letter of interest to the Board and discussed her long professional relationship with Supervisor Elías, whom she worked with at the County Housing Center before his appointment in 2002 to the Board of Supervisors.
“My experience working for Pima County as the Housing Program Manager for more than 17 years means that I am intimately familiar with how the county structure functions,” Villegas wrote to the Board. “As well, I possess valuable crisis management experience, having served as a leader in affordable housing during the Great Recession and foreclosure crisis. I would seek to support the Board's efforts to help all of the county's residents and serve as a reminder of the concerns that kept Richard up at night, and as an advocate of the solutions he championed.”
The new Supervisor worked in the banking industry before joining the County in 1999. She has served on numerous community boards and commissions including: United Way of Greater Tucson, Arizona Housing Alliance, Arizona State Housing Commission, Los Descendientes del Presidio de Tucson, and the Tucson Pima Arts Council/Arts Foundation of Southern Arizona.
“Richard’s loss has been a painful shock to all of us,” she wrote. “The pain is felt worst and most intimately by his wife Emily, his daughter Luz, and by his family. I know it is essential to his wife and daughter that the person selected stands for what Richard stood for, someone who will continue the work he started in his spirit as a poet warrior who was known for always doing the right thing. I humbly request your consideration to be selected as the Interim District 5 Supervisor. While I cannot fill his shoes, I will seek to walk his talk.”