Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
The Goldwater Institute (an ALEC affiliate) drafted HB 2826 this past session, a bill that would force most elections to be held on only two days every other year, a primary and general election. The bill infringes upon Charter cities' authority to control their own affairs and to govern based on their city charter, as provided for under the Arizona Constitution.
The bill is partly in response to the Goldwater Insitute losing in court this past year on "Paton Law" in City of Tucson vs. State. "Paton's Law" sought to dictate to the City of Tucson that it must hold nonpartisan city council races where councilmembers are elected ward-only, rather than Tucson's unique city-wide system. The Arizona Supreme Court ruled this violated the Arizona Constitution which gives charter cities unique rights to govern strictly local matters.
As always, when Goldwater Institute loses in court it turns to its Tea-Publican stooges in the Arizona legislature to rewrite the rules of the game in their favor.
The Goldwater Institute and the bills supporters claim it is meant to save money on elections and to increase voter participation. However, the ulterior motive is to push local elections down to the bottom of a very long ballot and to crowd out news coverage of local elections (and even candidate advertising) to make it much easier to slip in ideological candidates who have not been properly vetted by the media or the voters. It is a way for the Koch brothers-funded Goldwater Institute to get candidates elected in local governments who support their ideological anti-tax, anti-government spending (on infrastructure and public services), anti-public sector unions agendas.
Of course, Governor Brewer signed the bill into law over strong opposition by the Arizona League of Cities and Towns, and county elections directors who said it would cause havoc with elections.
The City of Phoenix may be ready to be the lead plaintiff in filing a lawsuit to challenge HB 2826. Phoenix fights Arizona law dictating election years:
Phoenix is preparing to sue the state to block a new law that would force Arizona cities and towns to hold elections in the fall in the same years as state general elections.
City Council members who want to challenge the law say it infringes on the city's authority to control its own affairs and govern based on its city charter.
Some are also worried about the unintended consequences of the law, such as forcing sitting council members to serve at least a year longer than their elected terms to comply with the legislation.
If Phoenix follows through with the suit, the League of Arizona Cities and Towns and other municipalities likely will add their support, league officials said.
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Phoenix has yet to file paperwork to challenge House Bill 2826, which Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law last month. But City Council members who met in executive session last week authorized the Law Department to defend city charter provisions that require council elections to be held separately from federal, state and county elections in the fall of odd-numbered years.
Those opposed to the legislation say it violates the Arizona Constitution, which allows charter cities to rule on local issues and prohibits the state from overriding decisions. "If we let the state take over our home rule, what's the point of having a City Council?" Phoenix Councilman Michael Nowakowski said. "We need to protect our city charter."
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It is unclear when Phoenix will officially file paperwork to take legal action, but its Law Department is researching the issue.
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton opposes the law, saying those who want to dictate when city elections are held should run for mayor or City Council, instead.
"The public wouldn't want consolidated libraries or consolidated senior centers," Stanton said. "Why would they want consolidated elections?"
The League of Arizona Cities and Towns fought the bill, saying it strips municipalities of local control and is akin to "micromanagement" from the state, said Ken Strobeck, the league's executive director. Approximately 40 of 76 municipal governments in the state are expected to be affected by the new consolidated-elections bill.
Strobeck said the league and other cities would likely get involved with the suit, though none has made any official decisions.
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Other cities and towns have been opposed to HB 2826 because of technical problems they expect to encounter as they reset election cycles to comply with the law.
City Council members and mayors could serve an extra year in office as a result. And cities and towns would have to hold charter elections to ensure the documents' language reflected changes from the legislation. City clerks are worried voters may not approve the charter changes.
The law is not scheduled to take effect until 2014, which gives cities and towns time to litigate.