La Paz County Attorney Sam Vederman has filed a rare quo warranto (“by what authority”) complaint asking for an order from the Superior Court to immediately place Ed Foster and Mark Orgeron into office as Mayor and Council Member of the Town of Quartzsite, taking the places of Jose Lizarraga and Barbara Cowell who lost the election to Foster and Orgeron.
The unprecedented complaint comes after the news-making actions of the Quartzsite Council in a meeting on June 4th in which they voted to ‘disqualify’ Foster and Orgeron from taking their seats after they won the May election.
Highlights from the County Attorney’s complaint:
- ‘Persuant to A.R.S. 12-2024, a county attorney “shall” bring a quo warranto action when he has reason to believe that any public office is being usurped, intruded into or unlawfully held or exercised.’
- ‘The terms of incumbent defendants Lizarraga and Cowell, and of incumbent Winslow, ended immediately following the election.’
- ‘Foster, Orgeron and Workman were each entitled to take office immediately following the election.’
- ‘During the June 4, 2012 meeting, defendants Lizarraga and Cowell, and Winslow, each purported to exercise the powers of the offices to which Foster, Orgeron and Workman had each respectively been elected, and purported to cast votes judging the qualifications of Foster, Orgeron and Workman to hold office.’
- ‘The Town itself lacks authority to create additional qualifications for elected office in addition to those set forth in Article 7 15 of the Arizona Constitution and A.R.S. 9-232.’
- ‘The provisions of the Quartzsite Town Code 2-1-10, to the extent they exceed the statutory qualifications for service on a town council …. are void from their inception because they are contrary to the Arizona Constitution and statutes.’
On the actions of Lizarraga and Cowell since the election:
- ‘By his actions since the canvass of the results of the May 15, 2012 election … defendant Lizarraga has usurped, intruded into or unlawfully held or exercised the office of Mayor of the Town of Quartzsite, which office is rightly held by Foster.’
- ‘By her actions since the canvass …. defendant Barbara Cowell has usurped … the office of council member … which office is rightly held by Orgeron.’
- Usurpation of a public office is ‘…a class 2 misdemeanor.’
- ‘The state is entitled to this court’s order ousting and excluding defendant Lizarraga from the Office of Mayor of the Town of Quartzsite.’
- ‘The state is entitled to this court’s order ousting and excluding defendant Cowell from the Office of Council Member….’
- ‘Ed Foster is the uncontested Mayor of the Town of Quartzsite and is entitled to the office usurped by defendant Lizarraga.’
- ‘Mark Orgeron is an uncontested Council Member….’
The complaint ends by asking the court directly to oust and exclude Lizarraga and Cowell from the offices they held before the election, leaving Foster and Orgeron to take office by default as election winners of those offices.