BURGESS BOUNCED FROM BALLOT
Colorado River Union School District (CRUHSD) Governing Board President Kerry Burgess has been disqualified as a candidate for re-election in the November 3 general election. Mohave County Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen ruled Thursday that plaintiff Royanne Ortiz prevailed in the lawsuit she filed challenging nominating petitions that Burgess submitted early this month to qualify his campaign.
Central to her case was Ortiz' contention that 25 of the 27 petitions turned in by Burgess failed to have been signed by circulators as is required under Arizona law. Ortiz argued that disqualification of the 25 petitions would leave Burgess far short of the 193 valid signatures required to make the ballot.
Judge Jantzen said it would be a quick hearing unless Burgess could overcome that case dispositive issue.
``I'm not a lawyer. I thought I was doing things correctly," Burgess replied. ``My desire was to help improve the education of the students in our community that I live and, grew up in and the schools I grew up going to."
Jantzen told Burgess that lack of circulator signatures on the back of his petitions is a flaw fatal to his candidacy.
``This is a basic thing that needs to be done on these petitions. It wasn't done on 25 of the 27 petitions," the Judge said. ``I find specifically that makes it impossible for you to be placed on the ballot. It is ordered removing you from the ballot."
Burgess suggested Ortiz should have ran for the board herself if she were so passionate as to take him to Court. ``It feels like a big waste of taxpayer time and money for Miss Ortiz to pursue this specific action and it would be nice to know her motive and what she's trying to accomplish," he said.
Jantzen said Ortiz didn't have to answer the motivation question, and she didn't. Jantzen said she had filed previous election challenges and is perhaps motivated by a desire to maintain credibility of the election system.
Jantzen further noted that an examination by the Recorder's Office revealed Burgess was several valid signatures short of qualifying his campaign even if he allowed signatures on all 25 petitions in question to be considered.
A window remains open for eligible residents of the school district to launch a write in campaign to fill the seat currently occupied by Burgess. Absent that, the seat would be filled by appointment.
Ironically, the possibility remains that Burgess could earn another four-year term by appointment if the seat is not filled during the election.
County School superintendent Mike File has previously taken applications for board vacancies and filled the seats in an application, review and appointment process. He said, however, the law has changed and that school boards now make appointment recommendations to him.
File said being bounced from the ballot does not prohibit Burgess from requesting that he be appointed should his seat be vacant after the election. He also said he would not be bound to appoint Burgess, even if recommended by the Board.