A local flood control authority is reconciling changes to state election laws as its October special-election approaches Wednesday.
The Maricopa Flood Control District is holding a special election Oct. 4 to fill the seat of board member Owen Kelly, whose term is expiring this year. However, recent changes to election regulations are already having a bearing on the outcome.
Prior to Jan. 1, 2016, it was acceptable for representatives of businesses and trusts who own land in the flood protection district to cast ballots in those special elections. Now, the law has changed to allow only property owners to cast ballots.
As a result of the changes, the MFCD states, “representatives of trusts, corporations, partnerships and estates that owned property within the district became ineligible to vote in district elections.”
Likewise, only members of the eligible electorate are allowed to run for positions on the board. This means Kelly, as a non-property owner, is not allowed to defend his seat.
“It’s complicated,” said Dan Frank, president of MFCD. “I’m not happy about it. My property is in trust, and I can’t vote in this election even though I am president of the board.”
Candidates for Kelly’s seat are Scott Kelly and Bob Marsh.
MCFD Manager David Alley is concerned about how the limitations are potentially disenfranchising people who pay property taxes, whether through a trust or business, who are now ineligible to vote.
“If you own property in the town, you’re supporting the flood district through your property taxes so you should be able to vote and you should be able to run,” Alley said.
The change happened, Alley said, because a law that guaranteed those types of taxpayers the right to vote expired and state lawmakers didn’t have to forethought to replace it.
Alley said the district is in the process of coordinating with other flood control authorities and state legislators to get the law fixed before the next election cycle in 2019.
The decision is a “no-brainer,” he said alluding to the fact that he couldn’t foresee any opposition to a legislative fix. But, he added, “you never know, because with politics anything can happen.”
2017 Voting Requirements
- You must be a registered voter in Arizona.
- You must own property within MFCD boundaries, and your individual name must be listed on the property deed.
- The taxes on that property must be paid and current.
- Ballots can be cast in person Oct. 4 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the clubhouse at Villages at Rancho El Dorado, 20991 N. Butterfield Parkway.
Meet the Candidates
Occupation: Senior design engineer at Electrical District No. 3
Years in Maricopa: 49
Why are you running for this office? My interest in the vacant seat on the Maricopa Flood Control District Board stems from a genuine interest in future development in the Maricopa area both personally and professionally. My position at ED3 is directly related to residential and commercial progress. It would be of great value for me to have knowledge and participation with on-going expansion.
What in your background qualifies you for this office? I am a lifelong resident of Maricopa. I graduated from Maricopa High School in 1986 and continued my education at the University of Arizona graduating in 1990 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics. I strongly feel that my lifelong residency and ongoing employment in the Maricopa area make me an ideal candidate.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the district and how do you propose the board should overcome that challenge? it is important to me that development progresses with minimal negative impact on the residents and businesses throughout our community.
Occupation: Retired engineer and manager
Years in Maricopa: 7 (Years in Arizona: 25)
Why are you running for this office? The responsibility of the MFCD Board is to maintain the Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa washes through the city of Maricopa and the rest of the district south of the city. That job involves engineering, financial management, contracts management, and project management. In my career, I’ve worked in all these areas, and I feel I can do a good job for the district.
What in your background qualifies you for this office? I’m an MIT graduate engineer, and have worked for several decades solving problems and managing projects for major companies and government agencies.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the district and how do you propose the board should overcome that challenge? I see the main challenge to be the ongoing maintenance needed in the washes, dealing with the invasive and rapid growth of salt cedars and other bushes and trees and continued erosion of the channel banks from water washing in from neighboring subdivisions. This challenge should be handled with frequent inspections of all channels, businesslike project bid and proposal practices, and follow-up inspections. If the channels – especially the bridges under the railroad and under SR238 – get clogged with plants, trees, and trash, then when we do get a flood, the water could back up and potentially to serious damage to homes and property. The MFCD Board is a small board with a small budget and a very limited job to do, but staying on top of the job of keeping the channels clear is important to homeowners, business, and farms in the district. In this election, we are fortunate to have two capable and qualified candidates running, both with engineering backgrounds, and I feel that whoever wins the open board seat, the district will be well-served.
This story appears in the October issue of InMaricopa.