Many Arizona politicians move behind the bench as JPs, extending careers and boosting pay

The Arizona Republic
Sunday, October 28, 2018
Paulina Pineda

Longtime legislator Ken Cheuvront, a Democrat vying for justice of the peace in Phoenix, said he’s not running for office because of the money.

Cheuvront, who served in the state Legislature for 16 years and now works in the private sector, said he will take a pay cut if elected.

He is one of eight former legislators and city council members who currently serve as justices of the peace or are running for the position, which requires few qualifications but is a boon to former lawmakers’ paychecks and retirement earnings.

Those who make the jump from lawmaker to justice of the peace are often accused of using the career move to spike their pensions.

It’s a criticism Cheuvront said he has heard from voters while campaigning in Maricopa County’s Encanto Precinct. But he said he decided to run for the bench because instead of making laws, he wants to adjudicate them.

If elected, Cheuvront will earn about four times what he earned as a legislator and increase his pension fourfold. He defeated his opponents in the four-way Democratic primary and will face write-in candidate Thane Eichenauer in the Nov. 6 general election.

“This is not a pension issue. It may be for some, but not for me,” he said. “I have a really successful construction business and I don’t really need it. I do well.”