November 28, 2023 / Modified nov 28, 2023 3:15 p.m.

AZ Secretary of State seeks legal advice on Tucson's city council salary raise

Secretary of State Adrian Fontes will wait for the legal analysis of Attorney General Kris Mayes before answering the Tucson City Council's request that will determine whether or not a recount is needed.

City Hall Tucson City Hall
Nick O'Gara/AZPM

Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes is seeking the legal opinion of Attorney General Kris Mayes on whether Tucson’s ballot measure regarding salary raises for the Mayor and Council is subject to a recount under state law.

Proposition 413 narrowly passed.

“The margin of votes cast was 289 votes; an amount less than ½ of the 1% of the total votes cast for the Proposition,” Fontes wrote to Mayes.

According to state law, “a recount of the vote is required when the canvass of returns in a primary or general election shows that the margin between the two candidates receiving the greatest number of votes for a particular office, or between the number of votes cast for and against initiated or referred measures or proposals to amend the Constitution of Arizona, is less than or equal to one-half of one percent of the number of votes cast for both such candidates or on such measures or proposals.”

In his letter to Mayes on Monday, Fontes noted that he lacked the authority to provide Tucson’s City Attorney Mike Rankin with a legal opinion, and instead asked Mayes to.

Last week, Rankin wrote to Fontes explaining why he believed a recount was not needed and asked Fontes to confer with the attorney general for determination.

Rankin argued that a recount is not needed because the law only applies to amendments to the state constitution, statewide measures, statewide initiatives, or city elections to city offices–not to proposed amendments to a city charter.

“Within the Recount Statutes, every reference to a city election that is subject to an automatic recount is exclusive to elections to a city office, and not to a referred measure or city ballot proposition,” Ranking wrote.

Rankin also mentioned that Proposition 413 falls outside of the scope of the law because it is a special election and neither a primary nor a general election.

Fontes will wait for the legal analysis of Attorney General Mayes before answering the Tucson City Council's request that will determine whether or not a recount is needed.

The recent win for Proposition 413 marked the end of a long battle to raise salaries for Tucson’s mayor and council, after Tucson voters rejected every salary proposition since the last raise, in 1999.

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