8/12/2013 8:38:00 AM Prescott Valley council changes elections to even-numbered years: Action necessary to comply with new state law
Ken Hedler Special to the Tribune
The Town Council voted unanimously Thursday to change municipal elections to the fall of even-numbered years to comply with a new state law.
The council vote came with some trepidation.
"It is going to be a mess," said Councilman Marty Grossman, who was elected to a two-year term in May and will see his term extended for an additional year. Council and mayoral terms typically are for four years.
The council action means extending terms for an additional year for council members elected or re-elected in 2011 and this year while also rescheduling the election for the alternative expenditure limitation, or "home rule," for 2016 instead of 2017.
Changing the election times will make them coincide with state and federal elections. The council for years has conducted primary elections in March and a runoff election in May.
The council Thursday passed a resolution and introduced an ordinance, which requires a second reading, to comply with the law, House Bill 2826. The state Legislature this year adopted Senate Bill 1454, which gave direction to cities and towns on how to adjust their election dates.
The new laws means council members and mayors will begin serving their terms in January instead of June, according to Town Clerk Diane Russell, who prepared the staff report for the council.
Prescott Valley voters could become "lost" when they participate in future elections because candidates and issues will appear at the bottom of long ballots, Deputy Town Manager Ryan Judy said.
Councilman Rick Anderson asked about what kind of effect the election consolidation will have on the mail-only ballots in Prescott Valley, which does not use polling places for municipal elections.
Russell responded by saying she spoke to Karen McCracken, Yavapai County registrar of voters, and described Anderson's question as being "unanswered" by state lawmakers.
Russell, who is going on the job for 10 years and previously worked for the City of Kingman, said she "can't imagine how long" the ballot will be in 2016, the next year for presidential elections.
She said 65 percent of the qualified voters in Prescott Valley are on the permanent early voting list, meaning they may avoid going to the polls. Prescott Valley has 20,245 qualified voters.
Grossman said he has volunteered at the polls, and was aware of voters with early ballots who arrived at polling places.
Referring to the consolidated elections, he said, "I think it is going to be a disaster. I can see a lot of the ballots not being cast."
He said he hopes the kinks will be worked out in two and a half years before the next election but is not optimistic.