By Jonathan F. Bee
The Hon. Christian Price has demonstrated consistent competency and cognizant skills as our Mayor of Maricopa.
Mayor Price has only used an Emergency Declaration two times, the second time being with regards to COVID-19. Under A.R.S. § 26-311 Mayor Price was within his right to issue a Declaration. The only portion that was a bit iffy was within the language of “… the mayor or chairman of the board of supervisors, if authorized by ordinance or resolution, may by proclamation declare an emergency or a local emergency to exist.” I don’t currently know what is on the books for Maricopa. Presuming whatever may be on the books states that the Mayor has the authority, then it is presumed that he acted lawfully.
Furthermore, the proclamation issued referenced “Pursuant to the Code of the City of Maricopa, Arizona (“City Code”), Section 2-34(d),” which to me means it adhered to what was previously established (but I haven’t had a chance yet to look it up).
Additionally, because the Declaration follows along the lines of what was issued by the governor of Arizona, Douglas Anthony Ducey (a state of emergency) and President of the United States Of America Donald John Trump (a national emergency), nothing was done out of the ordinary or without merit (since its issuance was a response to COVID-19).
With that said, our City Council acts as the Legislative Body of our City, just as Congress acts as our National Legislature and our Arizona State Legislature acts as our State Legislature. My presumption would be that there is or should be (as I’m not currently educated or versed on city law that) our Council would act as one of the checks and balances of our City government. If there is NOT, which it sounds like there is not, either 1 of 3 options would need to be established. 1.) The Council follows proper procedure to vote and approve a NEW city law that enables them to revoke or strike down or invalidate or abrogate or supersede or nullify a Mayor’s Emergency Declaration. 2.) The Judiciary is entrusted to strike down a Mayoral Emergency Declaration that violates city law/state law (since state law does give the Mayor certain rights and powers). 3.) It is put on a ballot for the voters/taxpayers to have a direct say in to the issue as it directly affects them during a Declaration of Emergency.
Because City Council was in support of this matter, there is no legitimate reason as to why this issue is being raised now (around 3 months after its implementation). Those issues should have been raised then, or at minimum the City Councilmembers who had issues or reservations should have made it official at that time, NOT now. Also to say that a future mayor may be less caring or competent or cognizant was out of bounds. It is NOT the role or right of a City Councilmember to speculate on the future mayors of this city nor unreliably without proof theorize that anyone in this city that may one day run for mayor is less competent, caring or cognizant than the current mayor [or past mayors (for that matter)]. Anyone who is legally qualified to hold city office and fulfills any current city and/or state law requirements is satisfactory enough under the law. Anything else is unsolicited personal opinion, conjecture, null and void, and antithetical to establish rule of law.
I feel that this is taking valuable time and money and attention away from more pressing matters and I believe our City Council needs to focus their attention to more pressing matters. There was no violation of city or state law. The Emergency Declaration (in this instance) was issued following state and federal levels, so thus there was a certain level of uniformity. And lastly because we are still under a worldwide pandemic that is heavily affecting both our country and state (currently), there is no reason for the Emergency Declaration to be suspended or voided or terminated or extinguished or abolished or nullified or abrogated or whatever.
If the City Council really wants this legal maneuver in their power stash, then they should NOT be allowed to vote on having it. In that case, it should have to be approved directly by the voters.
Is this what you want to do Maricopa City Council? Think long and hard and then we’ll talk!
Jonathan F. Bee is a Maricopa resident.