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Mon, Sept. 16

New rules for seeking office in Camp Verde?

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Council member Mitch Dickinson is proposing a new law that makes current council members resign before they can run for mayor.

Dickinson has placed an item on the agenda called a "resign to run" ordinance, which would force a council member to resign his or her post in order to declare candidacy for the mayor position or other elected office. He said it would not affect a council member who is up for re-election soon, but only those with more than a few months left in their terms.

"The bottom line is, if you're going to run for another office, a person should fulfill one commitment before going on to another," Dickinson said. He stated that a council member seeking the title of mayor should resign so that voters could elect a new person to the vacated position, rather than it being a council appointment.

"It shortens up the time frame that the voters are left out of the loop," Dickinson said. "A person would have to resign first to run for mayor. It's an incentive not to run."

Dickinson said "nothing in particular" prompted the idea, but rather it was something a previous council considered four years ago. He said he was not aware of any other Verde Valley communities that had approved such an ordinance, but compared the proposed rule to a similar requirement in Litchfield Park.

According to the time frame of his proposal, only council members Leroy Hunter, John Reddell, and Vice Mayor Tony Gioia would be affected by the ordinance if they were inclined to run for mayor or other office in the spring. Dickinson, Jackie Baker, Howard Parrish, and Mayor Brenda Hauser all have terms that expire in 2003 and would therefore be exempt.

"I'm sure this will get debated and get public input," Dickinson said.

Town Attorney Julie Kriegh said that if Camp Verde were to adopt such a rule, it could be the first of its kind for a Verde Valley community.

Asked if any other municipalities in the area had taken similar steps, she said, "Not that I'm aware of. There's a state statute that applies to a salaried elected official. The question here is: If that's a good idea for salaried officials, would it be for non-salaried as well?"

Kriegh said the roughly one-page ordinance was proposed previously in 1999, but the town council at the time did not pass the ruling. "There is a current draft ordinance now," she said. "It would also apply if the mayor wanted to run for a council position."

According to the language of the proposed ordinance, the concept of resigning to run eliminates "the impression that the current public office was used to gain political advantage in the position sought."

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