Mesa’s mayor was busy calling councilmembers Wednesday, reminding them that their terms are ending and they need to file for the November election.
Mayor David Ferguson, who is not up for reelection, didn’t realize until this week that all of the city councilmembers’ terms are up this year, he said.
None of them signed up during last week’s election filing period. A three-day special filing period runs through May 22.
“I think if I can get ahold of them, they’ll refile,” Ferguson said. “It’s just something that slipped our minds.”
The city of 450 in north Franklin County has five council positions, although only three of them — the minimum needed for decisions to be made — are now filled. No one filed for the other two positions in 2011.
One of the three facing reelection, Councilwoman Patti Bailie, said she was waiting to see if anyone else wants to file for her position before she does so.
Councilmembers Jim Cronenwett and Elizabeth Guizar also are at the end of their terms.
Problems getting people to file is nothing new in Mesa. Ferguson, who had been a longtime councilman, was appointed mayor in 2010 after former mayor Austin Davis resigned because of work and family obligations, according to Herald archives.
Ferguson had to wait until a fourth person, Bailie, was appointed to the council before he could resign and become mayor so they could keep a quorum.
“I think that Mesa has had an ongoing problem of getting a full council for a number of years,” said Bailie, who has been on the council off and on for more than two decades. “I think we’ll get people in.”
Bailie sees no issues keeping people from city government, but Ferguson acknowledges that an ongoing lawsuit by former mayor Donna Zink has been a deterrent to potential candidates.
Zink sued Mesa in 2003 for withholding public documents she requested. She was offered a $200,000 settlement and plaque at City Hall by the city in 2012, but turned it down.
Another problem in getting candidates has been a lack of interest by members of the city’s Hispanic majority, Bailie and Ferguson said.
The city has even considered allowing property owners who don’t live in Mesa to run for council, but that was found to be illegal, Bailie said.
The possibility of unincorporating the city has been raised by some, but Bailie is uncomfortable with that.
“We’d lose our post office, and we don’t want that to happen,” she said.
Incumbents would be able to keep their positions for another two-year term if no one files.
Having no one file for elections for boards in small jurisdictions such as those of cemetery or park districts is common, Secretary of State Kim Wyman said. It allows the board members to keep their seats without paying for an election.
“If there’s no one on the ballot, they don’t have to have any election cost,” she said.