When voters in Tucson and Phoenix went to the polls to elect their mayors in 2011, voters elected them for four years. But a bill passed last year by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Jan Brewer may extend the mayors’ time in office by a year. Or it may shorten their terms by a year. Nobody is sure which one it will be. After seeing the savings and the boost in voter turnout Scottsdale achieved from moving its election dates to the fall of even-numbered years to match the state election cycle, Rep. Michelle Ugenti of Scottsdale sponsored a bill to move all city elections to coincide with the state schedule.
Her consolidated elections bill from last year states that starting in 2014, all elections in the state must be held in the fall of even-numbered years. Of the 91 cities in Arizona, 75 currently hold their city elections either in the spring or in odd-numbered years.
The bill, however, didn’t specify what cities should do to comply with the law or how they should deal with elected officials’ terms. Also uncertain was how to deal with city alternative expenditure limitation, or “Home Rule,” elections already scheduled to go to the ballot in the spring or in odd-numbered years.
So this year, Ugenti came back with a fix declaring that cities and towns can decide whether to shorten or lengthen their elected officials’ terms. The bill also specified that for any municipality whose alternate expenditure limit expires in the spring of 2014, the statutory penalties would not apply in fiscal year 2015 provided the municipality seeks voter approval of an alternative expenditure limit in the fall of 2014. The bill would have also made technical fixes to account for any possible new town incorporations.