Earlier this week, the Supreme Court of the State of Arizona ruled in favor of the City of Tucson, Prescott and other charter cities, allowing them to continue to determine when to hold local elections. Upon direction from Council, Prescott filed an amicus brief in the case State of Arizona v City of Tucson. The case dealt with whether charter cities would be required by state statute to move their local elections (i.e. mayor and council elections) to the fall of even numbered years. The Court ruled 5-1 in favor of charter cities, allowing them to determine when to hold local elections. Here is the summary of the decision from the court.
Arizona Revised Statutes § 16-204.01 requires political subdivisions to consolidate local elections with state and national elections when voter turnout for the former significantly decreases. Our constitution’s “home rule charter” provision, article 13, § 2, gives charter cities autonomy over matters of purely municipal concern. We are asked to decide whether the home rule charter provision precludes application of § 16-204.01 to a city whose charter requires electing local officials on non-statewide election dates. Whether to align municipal elections with state and national elections or hold them in different years is purely a matter of municipal interest and not a statewide concern. Consequently, we hold that § 16-204.01 cannot apply to require a city to consolidate local elections with state and national elections if its charter provides otherwise.
“We are pleased with the Court’s ruling,” said City Attorney Jon Paladini. “As a charter city, Prescott has a tradition of holding Council elections on odd numbered years, as we are doing in 2021. This decision allows the City to continue this practice.”