The candidacies have been challenged by Oro Valley resident Don Bristow. Bristow is the head of Accountable Government Now, a PAC that seeks to "complete the recall process."
We refer to these two candidates as "spoilers" because, in our opinion, their very late entry into the race guarantees that they can not win the election. They will merely draw votes from the challengers, thus helping the election of the Incumbents.
Bowers could have rejected petitions
Bristow has challenged every Burke petition because all of Burke's petitions are totally blank on the backside. The backside is where the verification is completed and signed by the petition circulator. This is a legal requirement.
Bristow is challenging some of Winfield's which were the correct double-sided form per instructions from the town. Some of these petitions lack complete verification. In addition, some of the signatures on the petition are not registered voters in Oro Valley. Some of the signatures were signed by people who had previously signed a Pat Straney petition.
According to Bristow: "If the petitions lacking the verification are rejected, Winfield will not have enough signatures to be on the ballot."
Why did Oro Valley Town Clerk Julie Bower not immediately reject these petitions? These petitions were clearly missing information require by statute.
"Yes." as Bristow wrote to us, "These petitions were accepted by the same Town Clerk, Julie Bowers, who rejected within seconds of receipt all voter referendum petitions on the El Conquistador Country Club last spring because of a wrong serial number." The Arizona courts affirmed her right to have done so.
So, one might wonder, why didn't Bowers reject the questionable Burke and Winfield petitions?
It may be due to the standard Bowers applied in reviewing the petitions. That standard is "substantial compliance." This is different from the standard of "strict compliance" that Bowers applied in the El Conquistador Country Club vote petitions.
What constitutes "substantial compliance" is a matter of judgment on the part of the clerk. It is likely that today Bowers and Pima County recorder, F. Ann Rodriguez, both named defendants will discuss their position.
The town asserts, in its press release that Bowers had no authority to do anything but accept the petitions as submitted:
"Unlike the referendum petition process, which the Town recently underwent in January 2015, there is no specific state statute granting the town clerk the authority to remove petition sheets in the recall candidate process; therefore, all candidate nomination petitions were accepted."(Source: Town Of Oro Valley press release)
We asked Joe Winfield his reaction to the court case. "It's what I love about America."
We will continue to follow developments as they progress.