Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R) announced that all flags at state buildings would fly at half-mast on Tuesday following the Sunday passing of former State Mine Inspector and Representative Joe Hart.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of former Arizona Representative and State Mine Inspector Joe Hart,” Ducey said. “A pillar of state government, he was a dedicated advocate for the mining industry and played a critical role in overseeing the safety at Arizona’s mines. A lifelong Kingman resident, Inspector Hart proudly served the people of Arizona for decades. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones during this time.”
Deeply saddened by the loss of Inspector Joe Hart. A pillar of state government, he was a dedicated advocate for the mining industry and played a critical role in overseeing the safety at Arizona’s mines. 1/
— Doug Ducey (@DougDucey) September 12, 2022
Hart was a fourth-generation Arizonan. In 1992, he began working in the Arizona House and served until 2001 as Speaker pro-tem and chairman of several committees. He was later elected as State Mine Inspector in 2006, a position he served in until his retirement in 2021.
The Arizona Senate Republican Caucus also released a statement of condolence to Hart’s family, sharing what kind of person he was in life.
“Joe was a first-class guy and a true friend,” said Senate President Karen Fann (R-Prescott). “Those of us who knew him appreciated his light-hearted sense of humor, humble nature, and his deep love for our state. He treasured his family, and I know they will sorely miss him. Our sincerest condolences go out to Mr. Hart’s family during this difficult time. May God bring them comfort in this period of grieving.”
State Senator T.J. Shope (R-Coolidge) also shared a statement of remembrance for Hart and all he had accomplished.
“He was a statesman and one who will be missed. From a successful career in radio to the State House and on to being the State Mine Inspector, he gave his life to AZ,” Shope tweeted.
I first met Joe Hart when I visited the AZ House of Representatives as a guest of then-Rep. Cheryl Chase. He was a statesman and one who will be missed. From a successful career in radio to the State House and on to being the State Mine Inspector, he gave his life to AZ. #RIP https://t.co/bSAhGUx4au
— T.J. Shope (@TJShopeforAZ) September 12, 2022
Additionally, Kathy Senseman, a member of the Policy Development Group and executive committee member on the wildlife board, shared that Hart was surrounded by family when he passed.
“It is with a very heavy heart that I share our beloved former Mine Inspector/legislator Joe Hart has passed away. He was surrounded by family & will be deeply missed. He epitomized AZ in so many ways and was a great husband & father. Please keep his family in your thoughts/prayers,” said Senseman.
It is with a very heavy heart that I share our beloved former Mine Inspector/legislator Joe Hart has passed away.He was surrounded by family & will be deeply missed.He epitomized AZ in so many ways and was a great husband & father.Please keep his family in your thoughts/prayers
— Kathy Senseman (@ksenseman) September 12, 2022
In 2021, AZ Central reported that Hart resigned from the position, which would have ended in January 2023, at the age of 77, to focus on health and family.
“This decision was difficult, as serving the citizens of Arizona has been a great honor,” Hart wrote in his resignation letter. “For this cowboy, it was one heckuva ride!”
Following the resignation, Ducey appointed Paul Marsh as Arizona’s state mine inspector. Marsh is currently running unopposed for re-election to the position in the 2022 general election.
Arizona is the only state to elect a mine inspector. The agency is responsible for inspecting work conditions at active mining operations, investigating incidents and public complaints about safety, and mine safety training. They are also responsible for examining abandoned mines, evaluating their threat to public safety, and ensuring that dangerous areas are closed.
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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Joe Hart” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.