Republican Bill Gates, a county official in Arizona whose role overseeing elections last year brought him a torrent of threats that required him to temporarily be moved to an undisclosed location, announced Thursday that he will not seek re-election next year.
Gates announced his decision not to seek a third term on Maricopa County's Board of Supervisors in a statement Thursday that described his efforts to resist “external pressure” and to tell "the truth about our elections in the face of false information" in a county that has been at the center of election denialism in Arizona.
Arizona has been the scene of aggressive efforts by Republican candidates to contest their defeats with false accusations of voter fraud. In 2020, former President Donald Trump argued that he had not lost the state's presidential contest. And Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake was defeated last year, a loss she continues to try to litigate through the courts.
Gates is one of five members of the county’s governing board, which Lake, who had Trump's endorsement, targeted as she sought to sow doubt over election results after she lost the governor’s race to Democrat Katie Hobbs last year. In at least one lawsuit contesting the election, Lake named Gates specifically.
“As this chapter comes to an end, I rest well knowing that I left with integrity, compassion, and dignity. Regardless of personal partisan preferences or external pressure, I remained focused on making our region the best place to live, work, and raise a family," Gates said. "At Maricopa County, I kept government lean, taxes low, supported our most vulnerable residents, and told the truth about our elections in the face of false information. My will to fight for the truth remains unhindered, and I look forward to Maricopa County running the 2024 election."
While Gates said he is looking forward to his "next chapter," he did not elaborate in the statement about his plans.
In an interview before the midterm elections last year, Gates said he had been working with local law enforcement agencies as Maricopa County faced a barrage of “vile emails and social media posts.”
Then, just weeks after the election, local law enforcement officials urged Gates and his family to relocate temporarily as they investigated mounting threats.
Gates did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether past incidents with harassment played a role in his decision.
Gates is among a wave of elections workers who described intensifying harassment and safety concerns after the 2020 election and Trump’s efforts to overturn it, some of whom opted to resign.
Gates, who served on the Phoenix City Council from June 2009 through May 2016, was first elected to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in 2016. He served one year as Phoenix's vice mayor in 2013.