Recall group says Peoria trying to sabotage efforts
Arizona Republic
Oct. 23, 2008


Recall advocates claim Peoria is trying to sabotage their efforts to boot out Councilwoman Vicki Hunt by deliberately printing their ballot argument with typographical errors.

The group's ballot statement, printed in both English and Spanish and mailed to voters, is sprinkled haphazardly with capital letters and other errors.

Officials say the Peoria city clerk is statutorily required to print the argument as received

"I'm totally shocked by this," said Karen McQuistion, secretary and treasurer for the Peoria Posse Preservation Committee, which is seeking to oust Hunt. "How could they allow this to happen?"

Feeling the brunt of the fallout is challenger Grace Vasquez, who didn't enter the race until Hunt's foes qualified the recall for the Nov. 4 election.

"As I've been out there campaigning, they (citizens) have been saying that I wrote that and that I really need to take grammar lessons," Vasquez said.

The flower-shop owner said she had no idea how the typos would affect her bid to replace Hunt, a retired English teacher.

Recall proponents accuse Hunt of failing to preserve Peoria's historic buildings and of being inaccessible to her constituents. Hunt denies those claims.

Peoria city code stipulates that proper spelling, grammar, syntax and language are the responsibility of the person submitting the argument.

Posse co-chairwoman Kathy Montoya Moore said she originally handed in a typed recall petition but was instructed to submit it handwritten.

"I would never recommend they file something in one particular way," City Clerk Mary Jo Kief said. "I am a filing officer and I accepted what was filed with me."

City Attorney Steve Kemp said that under state statute, the city clerk is prohibited from changing language as submitted.

"The city clerk is required to accept the application with the proponents' grounds for the recall exactly as it was submitted as long as the form was completed and met statutory requirements," Kemp said.

"She will accept it typewritten, typeset, handwritten, in any shape or form. The city clerk has no authority to tell them, 'Well, you know your form has typos and missing words.' "

A review of Hunt's typed argument shows it also was printed verbatim.

Kemp said opponents originally tried to file the typed application, but when it did not meet a requirement to fit on one page, they opted to fill out a new application by hand.

"They're telling you that I declined to submit something better?" said Montoya Moore, who disputed the city's account. "Why would I submit something that would come out looking so stupid? Why would I do that?"

Montoya Moore and McQuistion also said they were never informed of the one-page rule, although Kemp said the applicants met with the clerk to go over the recall procedure.

Kemp also rebutted the group's reasoning that the ballot disclaimer shows the city was deliberate in its act. The disclaimer, which basically states the argument was printed exactly as submitted, has been printed for a number of years on city election material when needed.

Posse co-chairman Kenneth Carroll said he was filing a complaint with the Secretary of State's Office, adding that anyone with common sense would know the typos were not the group's intent.