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11:30 PM Sun, Dec. 09th

City of Kingman files motion to dismiss in candidate case

Carl Cooper

Carl Cooper

KINGMAN – The City of Kingman on Tuesday filed a motion to dismiss with Mohave Superior Court in reference to the write-in candidate litigation brought by candidate Ken Watkins, which is set to go to court at 2:30 p.m. today before Judge Lee Jantzen.

According to court documents, City Attorney Carl Cooper is requesting the court dismiss the complaint because it “fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted,” and does not accurately interpret statutes cited in the complaint.

The verified complaint filed with the court states Watkins is seeking an order that would compel the City to issue certificates of nomination to the top four write-in candidates from the primary election: Deana Nelson, Scott Holtry, Harley Pettit, and Watkins. The issue stems from the allegation that the City used the wrong Arizona Revised Statute in making its determination that those four write-ins would not advance to November’s ballot.

Watkins believes the City should have used ARS 9-821.01 instead of ARS 16-645 because the latter applies to partisan elections, which Council elections in the City of Kingman are not.

“The City does agree that non-partisan elections are not noted in ARS 16-645, but argues that it is inconceivable that the state legislature deliberately intended to allow a candidate to bypass the nominating process altogether and not be required to meet any threshold of citizen support,” the motion notes.

The motion to dismiss states that City Clerk Sydney Muhle told Council, candidates and the public at a Council meeting Aug. 7 that write-in candidates needed to comply with the threshold as outlined in ARS 16-645.

“It seems that the candidates had no issue with the threshold until they failed to meet it,” the document states.

Cooper writes that Muhle relied on the Arizona League of Cities and Towns Election Manual in making her determination. The motion to dismiss reads relying on the Election Manual is “reasonable” and that the manual is followed by cities throughout Arizona.

The motion also responds to the allegation that the City determined write-ins would not advance because then Council could fill the vacancies by appointment.

“It appears that the plaintiff is bypassing the general election altogether. Any citizen of the City of Kingman that meets the requirements under statute and that is not disqualified … is eligible to file as a write-in candidate.”