1/1/2011 8:10:00 AM Editorial: Election process should include basic review of nominating petitions
Cottonwood residents Doug and Carol Hulse did something this week you seldom see done here in the Verde Valley.
They legally challenged the nominating petitions of Cottonwood mayoral candidate John Ask. The end result is that Diane Joens now has a free pass for another four-year term as mayor. It's best to see these elected positions decided in hotly contested political races, but not when a candidate is so negligent with the very process to get his name on the ballot.
In the case of Mr. Ask, his nominating petitions were disqualified by order of the Yavapai County Superior Court. The court determined that only 36 of the 68 signatures on his nominating petitions were from legally qualified voters. The Hulses' legal challenge to Ask's nominating petitions claimed he had acquired signatures from people who lived in Camp Verde, Rimrock, Cornville, and Clarkdale, as well as people not even registered to vote.
It's ridiculous that someone aspiring for public office would be so careless in this most basic step in the process of getting elected.
Further, because it takes someone like the Hulses who will go to the trouble and expense of mounting a legal challenge to have the validity of these nominating petitions determined in Superior Court, you can't help but ask how often someone who should not even be on the ballot ends up getting elected. Cottonwood City Clerk Marianne Jiménez says this is the first time in her 21-year tenure as clerk that a candidate has been challenged and disqualified. Those who have lived in the Verde Valley for many years may remember in the 1990s that both Camp Verde and Cottonwood had convicted felons serving on their city councils.
All of which begs the question: Why doesn't Arizona law allow any kind of cursory review of nominating petitions by city or county election officials? Or, can people be totally careless and disrespectful of the process and still get their names on the ballot?