Fall elections proving unpopular with some cities - East Valley Tribune: Politics

Fall elections proving unpopular with some cities

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Posted: Thursday, August 19, 2010 8:34 am | Updated: 3:59 pm, Thu Aug 19, 2010.

A law requiring cities with populations greater than 175,000 to move their elections to the fall is proving unpopular in some parts of Arizona.

Critics complain the Legislature increased partisanship in local races and drew voters' focus away from community issues when it passed the law four years ago.

State Rep. Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler, offered the amendment that created the law, and says it was intended to boost lackluster voter turnout.

"The turnout in city elections was frankly quite poor for elections in the spring cycle," Yarbrough said. "I thought city elections were too important to be experiencing that kind of turnout."

Candidates for city council positions grumble their message could get lost because of higher attention paid to U.S. Senate and governor races in the fall.

Mesa City Council candidate Vic Linoff said the larger and louder campaigns have "buried" his.

"The impact the mayor and council have on individual lives is probably greater than on any other level," Linoff said. "It deserves greater attention."

Tom Belshe, deputy director for the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, said his organization opposes the mandate on fall election cycles.

"There is nothing more local in nature than the decision of when to hold an election," Belshe said. "That should be the right of each community to decide. They know best."

Yarbrough says more time is needed to tell if the law has produced the desired effect.

"Perhaps after we get five or six years of history, it would be good to look at it and make an assessment," he said. "I think it will prove to be a wise policy decision."

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