KINGMAN – The odds were stacked against Carl Hays from the moment he walked into Judge Lee Jantzen’s Mohave County Superior Courtroom, five minutes late for his scheduled appearance Thursday.
The court clerk had already called for him twice, and the judge was surprised to see him take a seat in the audience.
The courtroom was packed with 17 supporters of plaintiffs Arthur Gurnica, Patti Lewis and Rick Veradt, who filed a lawsuit to prevent Hays from running for the Northern Arizona Consolidated Fire District board of governors in November due to lack of petition signatures.
Also named in the lawsuit and present at the hearing were County Elections Director Allen Tempert and County Recorder Kristi Blair, represented by County Attorney Ryan Esplin.
Jantzen said he set the matter quickly because of the election process and possible appeals along the way. He read the plaintiffs’ petition and the answer from the county, which found an insufficient number of valid signatures for Hays to appear on the November ballot. He needed 57.
Hays, representing himself, said he agrees with the county, noting that the signatures challenged by the plaintiffs were accepted, but the recorder found other signatures to be invalid.
The case would have been quickly settled had Veradt and Gurnica not asked the judge to rule on whether Hays can even serve on the NACFD board, as he was appointed in April to replace one of the members who was forced to resign.
Jantzen answered that he did not have jurisdiction to make that determination, and it would have to be filed as a separate matter. The judge added that he read Hays’ argument that he doesn’t need to have a residency in the district to sit on the board.
Hays’ critics allege that his listed address at 4905 Flightline Drive at Kingman Airport is not a legal residence. Mohave County building officials have agreed that it’s a commercial structure, with no bathroom, kitchen or bedroom.
“You may be 100 percent right,” Jantzen said, “but that’s not in court today. He wants to be on the November ballot. This is an election challenge. I set an election challenge and not where he’s kicked off the board.”
Esplin agreed with the court’s decision, that Hays should not be on the November ballot, and the case is strictly an election challenge.
“We’re not done,” Veradt said after the hearing. “We’ve got to go after him to get him off the board to invalidate what he’s done.”
Hays was as quick to leave as he was late to arrive and has not been cooperative in responding to questions from the Daily Miner.
He was also ordered to pay $318 in filing fees and $60 for a subpoena to Gurnica, in addition to $202 in fees for services to Lewis.