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City of Tucson challenges Arizona law to only hold elections during 'even years'

If the City of Tucson does not win its lawsuit against the state, elected officials pictured above, including Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, could serve an additional fifth year in office.

City of Tucson challenges Arizona law to only hold elections during 'even years'

By Justin Schecker. CREATED Jul 25, 2013

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The City of Tucson is going toe-to-toe in court with the state regarding when it can hold future local elections.

The Arizona State legislature passed a bill last year that says starting in 2014, all elections in the state must coincide with national elections during even-numbered years. 

Tucson City Attorney Mike Rankin tells 9 On Your Side the city will argue to keep local elections in odd-numbered years based on its charter. 

If the state defeats Tucson's lawsuit, voters headed to the polls this November will elect three city councilors that will likely serve for five years, instead of the normal four.  

State Rep. Michelle Ugenti (R-Scottsdale) proposed the bill to hold all elections on even-number years. She argued it would increase voter turnout. 

Grouping local and national elections together saves Tucson and other jurisdictions money from not needing to print ballots in odd years.  

City Councilor Steve Kozachik, who is running unopposed in Ward 6, said he is fine with either outcome, but does not see any upside to aligning local and national elections. 

"What it does is it puts all of the city's issues at the bottom of the ballot," Kozachik said, "and sets up the potential to eliminate everybody in one fall swoop. While some may say that's a great thing, what it does is it eliminates all the institutional knowledge on the council."

In Ward 3, Karin Uhlich is running unopposed in the primary, but will face Republican challenger Ben Buehler-Garcia in November.      
 
City Councilor Richard Fimbres from Ward 5 doesn't have a challenger in his own party. Republican Mike Polak will try to unseat Fimbres in the general election.
 
The pending lawsuit also affects city officials elected in 2011. If the state wins out, Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and the three city councilors elected in 2011 could stay in office an additional fifth year. 
 
Based on Tucson's track record in election lawsuits against the state, Kozachik said he gives Tucson a 60 percent chance of winning the case.
 
The new state elections law will not affect elections scheduled for Nov. 5 because it does not go into effect until 2014, Rankin said. 
 
Next Monday is the last day to register to vote in the Aug. 17 primary elections.
 
Voter registration is up since the spring, the Secretary of State's office said.
 
For more information on the upcoming elections, visit here
Justin Schecker

Justin Schecker

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Justin Schecker reports for KGUN 9 ON Your Side at 5:00, 6:00 and 10:00. He joined KGUN9 in September of 2012 and spent his first year in Tucson covering overnight breaking news for Good Morning Tucson.