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Tucson city attorney: Arizona lawmakers can’t tell charter cities when to hold votes

Posted by   /  July 7, 2020  /  No Comments

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Mike Rankin

By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services via Arizona Daily Star

Tucson’s city attorney is arguing that state legislators acted illegally in trying to tell Arizona’s 19 charter cities when they can have their elections.

In a letter late Monday, Mike Rankin acknowledged that the 2018 state law, on its surface, requires cities to move their elections to even-numbered years if there is a “significant decrease in voter turnout” compared with statewide and federal elections. That is defined as a 25% drop.

But Rankin, writing to Assistant Attorney General Linley Wilson, said it doesn’t matter what lawmakers mandated. He said the Arizona Constitution — and the Tucson city charter adopted under its provisions — specifically empowers the city “to control the method and manner, and specifically the odd-year timing, of its elections for its mayor and council members.”

Based on that, Rankin said Wilson should dismiss the complaint filed against the city by Sen. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, who wants to force Tucson into bringing its elections in line or face the possible loss of $100 million in state aid.

The next step is up to Wilson’s boss, Attorney General Mark Brnovich. He has until July 19 to determine whom he believes is right

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