|Written by Greg Ruland|
|Wednesday, 05 January 2011 00:00|
Following a hearing Dec. 28, a Yavapai County Superior Court judge disqualified a candidate for mayor of Cottonwood because John Ask failed to collect enough valid signatures on his nominating petition.
The decision means incumbent Mayor Diane Joens will run unopposed in the Tuesday, March 8, primary ballot election.
“It was a mistake of not having the right signatures,” Ask said after the decision. “I tried to do the best I could. All I wanted to do was help the people.”
Appearing at the hearing by telephone, Ask argued the challenged signatures should be allowed. He told Brutinel he did not want to hire a lawyer to represent him in court.
“I told the judge we are all dependent on each other,” Ask said. “Maybe they don’t live inside city limits but they still have a Cottonwood address. They are dependent on the city for water and pay for water services.”
Through their attorneys at The Ledbetter Law Firm, Doug and Carol Hulse argued the candidate did not submit 48 valid signatures on his nominating petition before the Dec. 8 filing deadline.
To qualify for the ballot, Ask was required to submit to the city clerk by 5 p.m. Dec. 8 at least 48 and no more than 95 signatures of “valid electors who reside within the cooperate limits of the City of Cottonwood,” according to the complaint.
Under state law, each of the signers was required to be registered to vote in Yavapai County.
Ask submitted petitions containing 68 names before the deadline. The court disqualified 32 of them, leaving Ask 12 valid signatures short of the required number.
The Hulses alleged several of the signers were disqualified because they were not registered to vote. Others might be disqualified due to felony convictions or for other reasons, according to the complaint filed Dec. 22.
Yavapai County Recorder Ana Wayman-Trujillo testified at the hearing that she reviewed all of the signatures on the nominating petition submitted by Ask to determine whether the signers were residents of the city and registered to vote.
According to Wayman-Trujillo, of the 24 signatures on one nominating petition, 23 were from people who did not live within city limits. Several of those were obviously not qualified to sign because they listed their addresses as being from Cornville or Rimrock.
On another petition containing 17 signatures, eight of the signers were not registered to vote in Yavapai County and five were registered, but did not reside within city limits.
On a third petition containing five signatures, four of the signers lived outside city limits and one was not registered to vote, Trujillo testified.
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