Wow Sammy, we didn't know you had it in you!
SAMUEL E. VEDERMAN
Office of the La Paz County Attorney
1320 Kofa Avenue
Parker, Arizona 85344-5724
June 15, 2012
SAM VEDERMAN FILES QUO WARRANTO COMPLAINT
AGAINST JOSE LIZARRAGA AND BARBARA COWELL
“Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual - - or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.” - Samuel Adams
“A share in the sovereignty of the state, which is exercised by the citizens at large, in voting at elections is one of the most important rights of the subject, and in a republic ought to stand foremost in the estimation of the law.” - Alexander Hamilton
“The elective franchise, if guarded as the ark of our safety, will peaceably dissipate all combinations to subvert a Constitution, dictated by the wisdom, and resting on the will of the people .” - Thomas Jefferson
On June 4, 2012, at a special meeting, the majority of the Town of Quartzsite Common Council refused to seat Mayor- Elect Ed Foster and Council Member-Elect Mark Orgeron, by judging them unqualified to hold office, even though Foster and Orgeron received the highest number of votes in the May 15, 2012, runoff election.
Among the members of the Town of Quartzsite Common Council who voted to find Foster and Orgeron unqualified to hold office were three council members who either had not run for re-election, Mayor Jose Lizarraga, or who were not re-elected, Vice Mayor Barbara Cowell and Council Member Joe Winslow. Lizarraga voted in opposition to the majority of the council and Winslow resigned his office at the conclusion of the special meeting.
On Thursday, June 14, 2012, this office, in the name of the State of Arizona, filed a Quo Warranto complaint, in La Paz County Superior Court, against Jose Lizarraga and Barbara Cowell, who have yet to voluntarily relinquish their offices to Mayor-Elect Foster and Council Member- Elect Orgeron.
The Quo Warranto complaint alleges Mr. Lizarraga and Ms. Cowell have usurped, intruded into or unlawfully held or exercised public office by not vacating the offices of mayor and council member respectively, and that they continue to exercise control over those offices contrary to the law.
This office has requested the court issue a judgment of usurpation and an order ousting and excluding both Mr. Lizarraga and Ms. Cowell from their respective public offices and all other orders and relief as the court deems just and proper.
The legal action taken by this office was taken after much deliberation and in conformity with the intent of our Founding Fathers. There is no other choice, but to intervene in Quartzsite, in order to ensure the will of the citizens is carried out without any further unnecessary delay.
Once again, this office asks all citizens to remain calm and allow the legal system to enforce the transition of power through peaceful means.
County Attorney in court filing: Ed Foster is the uncontested Mayor of QuartzsiteLa Paz County Attorney Sam Vederman has filed a rare quo warranto (“by what authority”) complaint asking for an order from the Superior Court to immediately place Ed Foster and Mark Orgeron into office as Mayor and Council Member of the Town of Quartzsite, taking the places of Jose Lizarraga and Barbara Cowell who lost the election to Foster and Orgeron.
The unprecedented complaint comes after the news-making actions of the Quartzsite Council in a meeting on June 4th in which they voted to ‘disqualify’ Foster and Orgeron from taking their seats after they won the May election.
Highlights from the County Attorney’s complaint:
- ‘Persuant to A.R.S. 12-2024, a county attorney “shall” bring a quo warranto action when he has reason to believe that any public office is being usurped, intruded into or unlawfully held or exercised.’
- ‘The terms of incumbent defendants Lizarraga and Cowell, and of incumbent Winslow, ended immediately following the election.’
- ‘Foster, Orgeron and Workman were each entitled to take office immediately following the election.’
- ‘During the June 4, 2012 meeting, defendants Lizarraga and Cowell, and Winslow, each purported to exercise the powers of the offices to which Foster, Orgeron and Workman had each respectively been elected, and purported to cast votes judging the qualifications of Foster, Orgeron and Workman to hold office.’
On the Council’s authority to decide that Foster was ineligible for office because he owes the Town money:
- ‘The Town itself lacks authority to create additional qualifications for elected office in addition to those set forth in Article 7 15 of the Arizona Constitution and A.R.S. 9-232.’
- ‘The provisions of the Quartzsite Town Code 2-1-10, to the extent they exceed the statutory qualifications for service on a town council …. are void from their inception because they are contrary to the Arizona Constitution and statutes.’
- ‘By his actions since the canvass of the results of the May 15, 2012 election … defendant Lizarraga has usurped, intruded into or unlawfully held or exercised the office of Mayor of the Town of Quartzsite, which office is rightly held by Foster.’
- ‘By her actions since the canvass …. defendant Barbara Cowell has usurped … the office of council member … which office is rightly held by Orgeron.’
- Usurpation of a public office is ‘…a class 2 misdemeanor.’
On what the court is being asked to do about it:
- ‘The state is entitled to this court’s order ousting and excluding defendant Lizarraga from the Office of Mayor of the Town of Quartzsite.’
- ‘The state is entitled to this court’s order ousting and excluding defendant Cowell from the Office of Council Member….’
- ‘Ed Foster is the uncontested Mayor of the Town of Quartzsite and is entitled to the office usurped by defendant Lizarraga.’
- ‘Mark Orgeron is an uncontested Council Member….’