The Desert IndependentTM

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May 22 Quartzsite Town Meeting Gone Awry


JENNIFER "Jade" JONES
Publisher, The DESERT FREEDOM PRESS
Edited Version Reprinted with Permission

May 25, 2012

QUARTZSITE, Arizona The phrase "poor sport" doesn't do justice to controversial Quartzsite Town Attorney Martin Brannan. Beginning 49 seconds into the VIDE0 outgoing Mayor Jose Lizarraga states "On Friday, I asked Alex Taft to put a couple of things on the agenda. These items were not put on the agenda and I feel this that they are detrimental to some decisions that need to be made today. Um, I 'm asking for a special meeting tomorrow at 1 o'clock with these items on this, placed on the agenda. They were canvas of the vote, swearing in of new elected officers. It's something that needs to happen, I believe prior to making any decisions on today's meeting. With that being the case, this meeting is adjourned.

This can be heard clearly from another camera on this VIDE0.

Then, at 1:47 on the first video, as Mayor elect Ed Foster stands to leave, Brannan can be seen to the right of Foster's head running after Lizarraga. At 1:54, Lizarraga exits the side room and agitatedly points to the police officer and then to Brannan who is still inside. Lizarraga repeatedly gestures with his head and finger and a Quartzsite Police Officer and Town Manager Alexandra Taft enter. Within a few minutes, a member of the La Paz County Sheriff's Office arrives, and enters the back room.

After probable illegal quorums in the back room with the town manager, town attorney, and even former councilman Jerry Lukkasson, the Vice Mayor called a meeting to order and conducted the scheduled business of appointing someone to fill Councilman Lukasson's vacated seat and renew the town managers contract early, with "amendments" that may include a severance package increase.

Mayor Lizarraga (who is also the town's fire captain) had declined to run for his seat in the spring election, after stepping down from the council to run against then Mayor Ed Foster. Foster had been recalled due to a concerted effort by Councilman Jerry Lukkasson and his supporters. Foster beat Lizarraga at the polls, but when the mail in ballots were added to the totals, the August recall election went to Lizarraga by a margin of 57 votes. Then in November, Lukkasson stepped down to run for mayor, but Foster defeated him in the March Primary Election by a 70 vote margin. However Foster fell a few votes short of the 50% + 1 vote required to avoid a run-off. In the May 15th General Election it wasn't even close with Lukkasson losing by 97 votes. Challengers Mark Orgeron and Patricia Workman defeated incumbents Joe Winslow and Vice Mayor Barbara Cowell by a similar margin.

Now, incumbents and town staff seem to be doing everything in their power to keep the duly elected candidates from taking their seats. At Wednesday's special meeting to canvass the vote, only Mayor Lizarraga and one other member of the council showed up. No action could be taken or certificates of election could be issued due to a lack of Quorum. Stay tuned. Anything can happen in Quartzsite, and it usually does.



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