Today, La Paz County Superior Court Judge Michael Burke ordered Quartzsite Town Council seat Ed Foster as mayor no later than Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012.
At today’s hearing in Parker, Ed Foster was seeking a Writ of Mandamus asking the court to demand the town council swear him in as mayor. Foster won the majority of votes in the May 15th election. On June 4th council members declared him unqualified to be seated as mayor. In question was a Quartzsite Town Code 2-1-20 which stated persons who owed delinquent taxes, fines or fees to the town could not serve in elected office.
Foster’s attorney, Julie LaBenz, gave a slide presentation to the packed courtroom. She argued the town exceeded their authority to add qualifications above and beyond those set by the state of Arizona. Foster owes the town attorney fees issued by the same judge in May, 2011 and has publicly vowed never to pay the $2200. Today, La Benz asked and was awarded attorney fees, but was not awarded double the damages as requested. She argued that council engaged in selective persecution regarding not allowing Foster to be seated as she showed the court a n IRS form stating Quartzsite’s Town Attorney owes over $100,000. She accused the council of casting illegal votes to disqualify Foster and turning democracy “upside down”.
The Town’s attorney, Kristin Mackey argued the town has the right to control its finances and debt, that Foster owed the town fees issued by Judge Burke. Mackey argued the council performed its duty to judge its members, as allowed by state statutes. She argued Foster was not entitled to be mayor according to Town Code 2-1-10. She also brought up the fact that Foster was aware of this when he filed his papers, and he did not include his debt in his financial statement. She said his financial statement was virtually blank.
Shortly following the attorney’s arguments, Judge Burke delivered his opinion that the council did not have the authority to add additional qualifications. He also stated even if the town ordinance was legal, the debt Foster owes does not fall under any town code.Burke granted the Writ of Mandamus to Foster, ordering the Quartzsite Town Council seat him as mayor no later than their next regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, October 23, 2012