In 2012, Rep. Michelle Ugenti (R-Scottsdale), a storm trooper for the “Kochtopus” Death Star, the Goldwater Institute, sponsored HB 2826 (consolidated election dates; political subdivisions), a bill providing for the consolidation of elections in the fall of even numbered years only. The law will apply to elections in 2014 and thereafter.
Last August, Judge James E. Marner of the Pima County Superior Court entered his ruling after trial of this matter to the court in City of Tucson v. State of Arizona et al. (Case No. C20126272). Judge Marner ruled in favor of the Charter Cities of Tucson and Phoenix, and against the Arizona legislature. The 10 page ruling is Here.
Fast-forward to this week when the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in favor of the Charter City rebels, led by Tucson and Phoenix. The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports, Appeals court frees Arizona cities to hold elections when they want:
Phoenix, Tucson and the state’s 17 other charter cities can have their local elections pretty much when they want, no matter what state legislators say, the Arizona Court of Appeals has ruled.
Read the Court of Appeals ruling Here (.pdf).
The three-judge panel said a 2012 law requiring cities to have their elections only in even-numbered years is trumped by state constitutional provisions allowing charter cities to govern the manner of their own elections.
Most cities in Arizona – including Scottsdale, Tempe, Chandler, Mesa, Glendale and Peoria – are charter cities.
Judge Michael Miller, writing for the unanimous three-judge panel, acknowledged that lawmakers cited various reasons for wanting cities to have their elections at the same time as federal, state, legislative, county and school board candidates are on the ballot.
That includes saving local taxpayers the cost of a separate election. But Miller said that’s none of the state’s concern.
“If only city costs are implicated, then the Arizona Constitution delegates to the city’s voters to determine whether its costs actually would decrease and, if so, whether the decrease is worth the trade-off in loss of off-cycle election benefits,” the judge wrote.
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There was no immediate response from the Attorney General’s Office about a possible appeal to the state Supreme Court.
The 2012 law was pushed by the Goldwater Institute [SourceWatch].
Attorney Clint Bolick [SourceWatch] said consolidated elections mean more people make it to the polls. And Bolick said that makes it harder for special interest groups to get their way by working to turn out only those who see things their way.
But Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, said he saw something less noble and more partisan in the push: He said the Republican-controlled Legislature is interested in the issue only because the GOP candidate for Phoenix mayor in 2011 lost the race last year to a Democrat.
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Tucson City Attorney Mike Rankin said forcing consolidated elections would result in “the local issues being on Page 20 before anybody gets to them.” And he said pushing those local races the bottom would result in voters losing interest — and not finishing the ballot — before they get to those local races.
Forcing a change to even-numbered years also raised other issues.
One is that there are candidates in office now whose terms end in odd-number years. That raised questions of whether they simply would have another year added to their terms to make them end in even-number years.
The appellate judges also noted this isn’t the first time Arizona lawmakers have tried to tinker with local elections.
In 2009 the Legislature voted to forbid cities from having partisan elections for mayor and council. That same law would have voided Tucson’s modified ward system in which council candidates are nominated from each ward but elected citywide.
But the Arizona Supreme Court voided that law in 2012, ruling the Arizona Constitution gives charter cities special rights to control their own local matters.
So Luke Skywalker, er, the City of Tucson, leading the Charter City rebel forces, has once again scored a direct hit on the “Kochtopus” Death Star, the Goldwater Institute, and its Tea-Publican storm troopers in the Arizona legislature.
But in order to destroy the “Kochtopus” Death Star and the “Kochtopus” Empire operating in Arizona, we must require the Goldwater Institute and its employees to register as lobbyists, and revoke its 501(c) status to force it to disclose the source of its funding, including “tracing” funds from “Kochtopus” front groups back to the original source donor. The same applies to requiring disclosure of donors to the “Kochtopus” dark money network.