Monday, March 26, 2012
Prutch's lawyer urges Town of Quartzsite to reconsider its position on election
This morning, John Prutch emailed Desert Messenger the above communication between his lawyer, Ellen M. Van Riper, and Quartzsite Town Attorney, Martin Brannan.
John Prutch was a write-in candidate against incumbent council member Mike Jewitt in the March 13th election. Ms. Van Riper disagrees with the town's claim that the contest was a special election instead of a primary, and threatens filing an election contest.
Jewitt was appointed when Jose Lizarraga, Quartzsite's current mayor, resigned to run in the 2011 recall election of then-mayor Ed Foster.
(Just to clarify the address listed above is not that of Quartzsite Town Hall, which is 465 N. Plymouth Ave., Quartzsite, AZ 85346. The address listed is that of former Town Attorney, Pamela Walsma of Shadle & Walsma, PLC.)
Quartzsite Town Attorney Martin Brannan responded with an email stating:
Dear Ms. Van Riper:
I have considered the language of A.R.S. § 9-235 both as it stands alone and in context with A.R.S. § 38-295(B) and respectfully disagree with your conclusions. I suggest that you are mistaking “special election” in the context of dates of election and “special election” in the context of purpose. I further find your reference to A.R.S. § 38-295(B) unpersuasive. As I hope you are aware, statutes which are general in nature must yield to those which are specific in nature and the legislature is presumed to be aware of arguably contradictory statutes when it enacts new legislation. The legislature could have said that any vacant council seat vacated more than thirty days before the nomination deadline of the next regularly scheduled council election be filled in the same manner as expiring council seats. It did not. Rather, the legislature empowered town and city councils to fill a seat only “until the next regularly scheduled council election.” Thus, A.R.S. § 9-235 being both a specific statute having precedence over the general statute, i.e., A.R.S. § 38-295(B), and A.R.S. § 9-235 having been written by a legislature that was fully aware of A.R.S. § 38-295(B) and yet written in such a manner as to conflict with A.R.S. § 38-295(B), I conclude that the seat necessarily became vacant on the date of the next regularly scheduled election next following the vacancy, i.e., A.R.S. § 9-235 and that the legislature intended that it be filled following the canvass of and based on the results of the election held that day.