Changing the Charter through the Initiative Process
So What on Earth do we really want to do?

We are proposing a change to the Charter of the City of Tucson.  This requires signatures of a number of qualified City of Tucson Electors (registered voters) that equals or exceeds 15% of the number of votes cast for Mayor in the last election.  That number equals 11,615 or 11,617 signatures depending on whose calculator you're using.  Our goal is 15,000 signatures.  This daunting task must be completed by July 2007.  The clock is already ticking.

First, let's have a little lesson on how to read the Charter and the proposed changes. All of our change are in the 16th Chapter of the "Part 1 Charter" section of the Charter of the City of Tucson. The language of the charter should be taken very literally. When a change proposal is included in the language you'll see them as CAPITAL LETTERS and when language is eliminated you'll see words with a strikeout font. This can make the reading of political language tedious. It often takes time and practice.

Below, you'll see Chapter 16 (Section 9) of the charter with Ward-Only, IRV and the New Mayor System language included. If all this political language hasn't put you to sleep and you like what we're doing, then please procedd to "Helping the Cause" for ideas of what you can do to contribute.




*Cross references:  Authority to provide for municipal elections, ch. IV, § 1(20); elective officers specified, ch. V, § 1; franchise elections, ch. XVII, § 1. 


Sec. 1. To be primary, general or special.

Elections to be held in the city shall be either primary, general or special.


Sec. 2. Date of primary elections; general laws regarding nominations adopted.

Primary elections under this Charter shall be held on the third Tuesday in September of each year in which a general election for the offices of mayor and councilmen, or councilmen only, shall be held as hereinafter provided in this chapter. The provisions of the general laws of the State of Arizona relating to and governing primary elections and the nomination of elective officers, whether by primary or certificate of nomination (being the whole of title 16, Arizona Revised Statutes, 1956, and each and every provision of said title with all amendments and supplements thereto) applicable to a city of the population and the class of this city, shall apply and govern the holding of primaries and nominations of elective officers. The mayor and council shall have power to make any further and additional provisions relating to primaries and nominations of officers not repugnant or contrary to the provisions of the constitution and the laws of the state or any amendments and supplements thereto.

(Ord. No. 1142, eff. 6-23-48: Ord. No. 2080, eff. 11-10-60)


Sec. 3. Date of general elections; terms; oath of officers.

The municipal general election shall be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of each election year as provided in section 4 of this chapter, except during the year 1962 when the municipal general election shall be held on the third Tuesday of November. The terms of the mayor and members of the council shall commence at 10:00 a.m. on the first Monday in December following their election and, except as otherwise provided in this chapter, shall be for four (4) years and until their successors are elected and qualified. Each officer so elected shall take and subscribe to his oath of office as in this chapter provided.

(Ord. No. 2080, eff. 11-10-60)

Sec. 4. Terms of mayor and councilmen staggered.

The incumbents of said offices shall serve their respective elected terms and, in addition thereto, the mayor and three (3) councilmen having terms expiring on the first Monday of May, 1961, shall be continued in office until the first Monday in December, 1961, and the three (3) councilmen having terms expiring on the first Monday of May, 1962, shall be continued in office until the first Monday of December, 1962, Anything in this chapter to the contrary notwithstanding:

(a)   In 1961 there shall be elected a mayor and three (3) councilmen for a term of two (2) years, which terms shall expire at 10:00 a.m. on the first Monday in December, 1963;

(b)   In 1962 there shall be elected three (3) councilmen for a term of three (3) years, which terms shall expire at 10:00 a.m. on the first Monday in December, 1965;

(c)   In the year 1963 when the said terms provided in (a) hereof shall expire there shall be held elections under the provisions of this chapter at which there shall be elected a mayor and three (3) councilmen to fill the offices expiring on the first Monday in December, 1963; and

(d)   In the year 1965 when the said terms provided in (b) hereof shall expire there shall be held elections under the provisions of this chapter at which there shall be elected three (3) councilmen to fill the offices expiring on the first Monday in December, 1965. Thereafter there shall be held primary and general elections quadrennially for such offices.

(Ord. No. 2080, eff. 11-10-60)

Sec. 5. Qualifications for candidates for mayor and councilmen.

Candidates for the office of mayor and councilman [councilmen] of the city shall be duly qualified electors under the laws of the State of Arizona and under the provisions of this Charter, and shall have resided within, and have been a qualified elector of, the City of Tucson for not less than three (3) years immediately prior to becoming a candidate, except that time of residence in any area and being a qualified elector thereof shall be counted as residence and electoral qualifications within the City of Tucson one (1) year after said area becomes annexed to the city. Any candidate for councilman shall have resided in his respective ward or annexed area at least one (1) year prior to his becoming a candidate, unless such residence has been shortened by the redistricting of the city as to wards.

(Ord. No. 1640, eff. 5-16-56)

Cross references:   Mayor and councilmen holding other offices prohibited, ch. XVIII, § 1. 

Sec. 6. General conduct and control of elections; sample ballots and instructions authorized.

The conducting and carrying on of all city elections shall be under the control of the mayor and council, and they shall, by ordinance, subject to the provisions of this Charter, provide for the holding of all municipal elections. Sample ballots and instructions to voters may be sent out to the registered electors entitled to a vote at any municipal election, but the sending out of said ballots and instructions shall not be necessary, and no notice of any such election, other than the publication of the ordinance calling and providing for the same, shall be necessary.

Sec. 7. Applicability of general laws; duties of mayor and council and clerk.

The provisions of the general laws of the State of Arizona, governing the elections of state and county officers, not inconsistent with the provisions of this Charter, shall govern the said elections, in matters for which no provision is made in this Charter, or by ordinance, and the mayor and council and clerk, respectively, shall exercise the powers and perform the duties conferred or imposed by such laws on the board of supervisors and clerks of counties concerning elections.

State law references:  Elections and electors generally, A.R.S. title 16. 

Sec. 8. City to be divided into wards; redistricting.

The city shall be divided into six (6) wards, each ward containing, as nearly as possible, the same total population. Beginning with the year 2000, and quadrennially thereafter, and, in addition, during the second year following the year of any decennial United States census, the mayor and council may, if necessary to equalize the total population contained in the said wards, one with another, redistrict the said city as to the said wards, and said redistricting shall be done between the first day of October and the thirty-first day of December of said years.

(Ord. No. 8947, § 1, 9-2-97)

Editor's note:  Added as a result of a Charter Amendment Special Election held November 4, 1997. This amendment became effective on December 9, 1997. 

Sec. 8.1. Redistricting advisory committee.

In any year in which redistricting of the city's wards is permitted under this Charter, or whenever redistricting is otherwise mandated by law, the mayor and council shall establish a Redistricting Advisory Committee, which shall make written recommendations regarding the redistricting of wards. The formation, term and activities of the Committee shall be regulated by ordinance.

No redistricting of the city's wards shall occur prior to the consideration by the mayor and council of the Redistricting Advisory Committee's written recommendations.

No redistricting plan shall be drawn for the purpose of favoring or disfavoring any political party or person, nor for the purpose of diluting the voting strength of any racial or ethnic minority group. To the extent reasonably practicable, wards shall be equal in population and shall be contiguous and compact.

(Ord. No. 8118, eff. 9-7-93)

Sec. 9.  Mayor nominated and elected at large; councilmen nominated from wards, elected at large COUNCILMEMBERS NOMINATED AND ELECTED BY WARDS.

Beginning in the year 1930 2009 and continuing thereafter, the mayor shall be nominated from and elected by the MAJORITY OF voters of the city at large and the councilmen COUNCILMEMBERS shall be nominated AND ELECTED each from, and by the MAJORITY OF respective voters of, the ward in which he resides, and shall be elected by the voters of the city at large EACH SUCH COUNCILMEMBER RESIDES.

Sec. 10. Number of polling places; open hours.

There shall be at least one (1) polling place provided in each ward in the city for the casting of votes and such polling places shall be kept open on the day of election from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. The mayor and council may increase the number of polling places from time to time as necessity may require.

(Ord. No. 2080, eff. 11-10-60)

Sec. 11. Qualifications for electors.

The qualifications of electors shall be as required by the constitution and laws of the state for city and county elections. They shall also be residents of the city at least ninety (90) days previous to any primary, special, or general election held therein, and shall have actually resided in the ward in which they claim to vote for thirty (30) days next preceding any such primary, special or general election.

State law references:  Qualifications of electors generally, A.R.S. § 16-101. 

Sec. 12. Ordinance to provide for absentee voting.

The mayor and council shall provide, by ordinance, prior to the primary election of 1930, for the voting at any primary, general or special election of electors absent, or to be absent, from the city on the day of any such election, and the sick and disabled who cannot attend the voting places in person at any such election.

Sec. 13. Voting machines required.

The mayor and council shall provide for voting machines to be used in all the wards of the city at any of the elections provided for by this Charter, and full power and authority is hereby granted the mayor and council to do and provide anything necessary to effectuate voting by machines.

Sec. 14. Filing and disposition of returns.

The election returns from each ward, immediately upon the completion of the count and certification of the election board, shall be filed with the clerk, who shall immediately place them in the safe or vault in the said clerk's office, until the same shall be canvassed by the mayor and council. After having been canvassed, said returns shall be sealed up and kept by the said clerk for two (2) years, and no person shall have access to them, except on the order of a court of general jurisdiction.

Sec. 15. Canvassing returns, declaring results.

On the first Monday after the election, the mayor and council shall meet and canvass returns and declare the result of such election.

Sec. 16. Certification and delivery of results to persons elected; oath of office required.

Within twenty-four (24) hours after the result of the election is declared, the clerk, under his hand and official seal, shall issue a certificate therefor, and serve the same personally or by registered mail upon the person elected, and said person shall, within five (5) days after having received such certificate, take and subscribe the oath of office required of him by this Charter, which oath must be filed with the clerk.

Sec. 17. Statutes relative to violations of election laws and publicity of finances applicable in city elections.

The laws of the State of Arizona, relative to violations of the election laws and the publicity of campaign contributions and expenditures of committees and candidates, at primary, special and general elections, shall apply to city elections under this Charter, and shall be enforced as provided in said laws.

State law references:  Campaign expenses and contributions generally, A.R.S. § 16-401. 


Sec. 18. General election provisions applicable.

All special elections herein provided for shall be conducted in the same manner and under the same provisions as are provided for the holding of general elections, including the qualifications of electors and the nomination of candidates.