Prescott mayoral candidate field grows to three

New PAC forms to oppose city sales tax increase for pension shortfall

Greg Mengarelli, left, accepts the Prescott school board gavel from outgoing President Scott Hicks in this Courier file photo from January 2017.

Photo by Nanci Hutson.

Greg Mengarelli, left, accepts the Prescott school board gavel from outgoing President Scott Hicks in this Courier file photo from January 2017.

The upcoming selection of a new mayor in Prescott became a three-way race this week, after Greg Mengarelli took out a nominating packet.

Mengarelli, who also serves as president of the Prescott Unified School District (PUSD) Governing Board, picked up a packet at Prescott City Hall late Wednesday, April 5 – allowing him to begin circulating nominating petitions for the mayor’s post, Prescott City Clerk Dana DeLong reported Thursday.

While Mengarelli could not be reached for comment Thursday on whether he planned to retain his post on the school board if elected as mayor, DeLong said the city’s legal department has determined that he could legally serve in both positions at the same time.

Yavapai County School Superintendent Tim Carter added that state statute allows for dual elected roles, as long as both positions are not salaried. “You can’t hold two elected offices for which you are paid,” Carter said.

In the local instance, the mayor of Prescott earns $750 per month, but members of the school board serve in an unpaid capacity.

Carter pointed out that a number of state Legislators from around Arizona also serve as unpaid members of their local school boards, as well as other boards and commissions.

Serving in both Prescott capacities could lead to conflicts of interest, Carter said, such as agreements for joint use of city/school ballfields. But he said an official can handle that situation simply by declaring a conflict and allowing the other council/board members to handle the matters.

“Ultimately, it is going to be up to the voters to decide whether that’s good or bad,” Carter said of the potential dual role.

Mengarelli joins current City Councilwoman Jean Wilcox and local resident Mary Beth Hrin, both of whom earlier picked up nominating packets and filed statements of organization for the mayor’s post. Current Mayor Harry Oberg announced in March that he would not seek a second term.

PAC files

Also on Wednesday, a new political action committee (PAC) filed a statement of organization to oppose the city’s ballot measure that will ask voters on Aug. 29 for a 0.75-percent increase in sales tax to pay down Prescott’s more than $78 million in unfunded liability with the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRS).

The new group – No on Proposition 443 – listed its sponsor’s name as John Lamerson, and its treasurer’s name as John Stevens.

Lamerson said Thursday afternoon that the PAC was formed “to inform the public that the tax will not give Prescott a solution to its future liability issue.” He added: “It won’t come near solving this issue because you can’t solve it in Prescott; it’s a much larger (statewide) issue.”

The No on Proposition 443 PAC plans to conduct public forums to get the word out, Lamerson said.