Who should set election dates — cities or the state?

By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services 

An attorney for the city of Tucson asked Arizona Supreme Court Tuesday to slap back yet another effort by state lawmakers to tell charter cities when they have to hold their elections.

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Jean-Jacques Cabou said the whole purpose of the Arizona Constitution in allowing cities to adopt charters was to give them control of matters of purely local concern. And in this case, he said, Tucson voters have said they like having their elections in odd-numbered years so that local issues do not get buried under debates about who should be president or governor or any of the statewide ballot issues.

“Let’s be clear: The electors of the city of Tucson have consistently and very recently have said, ‘We want odd-year elections, leave us alone,’ ” he told the justices, with Tucson voters deciding as recently as November 2018 to keep their odd-year elections.

Under questioning from the court, Cabou conceded that there are limits to local power.

“If the city of Tucson, or some other city for example, passed a law that said only property owners could vote in purely municipal elections, there’s no question that the state would have a constitutional imperative to step in and say, ‘No, no, no,’ ” he said. Such a provision would infringe on individual constitutional rights.

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