Ballot language confusing to D-H voters
The sample ballot containing two referendums is "all mixed up," according to Dewey-Humboldt residents.
Town Clerk Debbie Gifford said residents have found the language confusing and misstated in several of the for and against arguments on the referendums regarding the Village Marketplace at Young's Farm and the decreased sales tax. She and town attorney Kenton Jones collaborated on a letter to voters that explains how ballot language works.
The confusion with the referendums lies, in part, with the arguments for and against two town ordinances and misstates how a person should vote in order to support or oppose the referendums, Gifford said.
"The town does not create, edit or review these arguments. Once received, they are forwarded to the printer for inclusion in the pamphlet," said Gifford in a letter dated Feb. 8 that went out to all Dewey-Humboldt residents.
"For the town to inject itself into the process and attempt to modify the materials submitted would leave the town subject to criticism and raise questions as to whether the town had helped some and not others, or tried to manipulate the arguments to sway voters." The county elections office will include the same letter with the mail-in ballot that goes out to voters this week.
Gifford said state law requires the language a county elections department uses to write a ballot.
It states, "... in the case of a referendum, a 'yes' vote shall have the effect of approving the legislative enactment that is being referred ..."
The Publicity Pamphlet contains the text of the ballot and includes the actual ordinances approved by the town council, the referendums, and arguments for and against each issue.
Also on the ballot is the petition language that asked for the recall of council members Len Marinaccio and Nancy Wright, along with their statements of defense.
Prop. 401: Young's Farm referendum
In the case of the Young's Farm ordinance, the town council approved rezoning the commercial property near the intersection of Highways 69 and 169 on July 17 for the Village Marketplace at Young's Farm. A "yes" vote means the voter agrees with the council's action to rezone the property. Voting "no" would attempt to overturn the council's vote.
The Dewey-Humboldt Positive Action Committee filed a petition that put the issue, called Proposition 401, to the voters. The publicity pamphlet contains the ordinance itself, exhibits that supplement the ordinance with all the stipulations upon which the town and the developers agreed, a map of the entire Village at Young's Farm (Section A is the Village Marketplace property), a legal description of the property, and a document that lists the non-permitted uses.
One of the two arguments supporting Prop. 401 asks voters to vote yes and one asks voters to vote no.
June Runkle, project assistant with Monogram Co., developers of the Village Marketplace, said Don Allison, Monogram partner, submitted his supporting argument before the town wrote the ballot.
"Based on what we were initially told, a 'no' vote would not overturn the referendum. The ballot hadn't been written, so nobody knew what the language would be. I think everybody was confused," Runkle said. Allison's statement on the ballot incorrectly asks voters to vote no to repeal the ordinance.
Yavapai Land Holdings, owner of the former Young's Farm, is one of the sponsors of the new group, Put Dewey-Humboldt First.
"We have 20 large signs asking voters to vote yes, to make it very clear," Runkle said.
The ballot language states, "A 'no' vote shall have the effect of repealing Dewey-Humboldt Ordinance 07-32, which rezones portions of the Monogram/Young's Farm property to allow for an increased commercially developable area along Highway 169."
Prop. 402: Sales Tax referendum
On Sept. 18, the D-H town council voted to decrease its privilege license tax, or sales tax, from 2 percent to 1 percent. The D-H Positive Action Committee wants to repeal the new ordinance and keep the sales tax at 2 percent.
Out of five arguments in favor of Prop. 402 - in favor of the council's decision to decrease the sales tax - three of them incorrectly ask voters to vote no, including those from Mayor Earl Goodwin and Vice Mayor Warren Rushton.
Again, it was the specific wording required by state law, and the timing of learning what that language was, that tripped up Goodwin.
"The arguments had to be in by Dec. 12 and the writing of the ballot language didn't get done until Dec. 14," Goodwin said. He encourages voters to read the ballot language carefully when deciding how to vote.
The ballot states, "A 'no' vote shall have the effect of repealing Dewey-Humboldt Ordinance No. 07-34, and retaining the current Privilege License tax rate at two percent (2%)."
The county elections office is mailing ballots this week to registered voters. The last day to register to vote was Feb. 11. Voters should use black ink when filling out the ballot, sign the envelope, and drop it in the mailbox, or take it to the Town Hall and put it in the Drop Box.
The Yavapai County Elections Office must receive the ballots by 7 p.m. on March 11. Anyone having questions about a lost ballot or needing a replacement ballot may call Voter Registration at 771-3248. For other questions, call the Town of Dewey-Humboldt at 632-7362.