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PINETOP-LAKESIDE – Two actions regarding election issues took place at the March 5 council meeting. The council unanimously approved the 2020 general election and call of election which affirmed the dates of the primary and general election. Also approved was the submission of the question of direct election of the office of mayor for a four-year term to the voters at the next regular election.

Aug 4, 2020 is the date for the statewide primary election for the purpose of nominating candidates for mayor and council. It is at that time they will also decide whose names will appear on the ballot at the general election to be held Nov. 3, 2020.

Candidates will be elected to fill three town council positions with terms of four years and one two-year council position. This will re-instate the staggered terms that were eliminated in 2016 when the town chose six new councilors for their six-member town council. Additionally, one candidate will be elected to fill the position of mayor which is currently a two-year term.

Any candidates receiving a majority of all the votes cast at the primary election will be declared elected as of the date of the general election without having to run in the general election.

With regard to the mayoral term extension, an ordinance was approved by the town council in May 2015 which provided for the direct election of the mayor for a two-year term. Voters approved the ordinance in 2016 and the first direct election for the office of mayor was held in 2018.

According to the draft minutes released by Town Clerk Jill Atkins, Town Manager Keith Johnson recommended that council consider extending the mayor’s term to four years in 2022 because it would keep the position the same length as the term lengths of the council. He also stated that it “lends stability to the municipal government.”

It is the question of the term extension for the office of mayor which will go to the voters on the Aug. 4 ballot. If voters approve the term extension, the direct election of the mayor for a four-year term would be on the ballot of the primary election in 2022.

Reach the reporter at bbruce@wmicentral.com

Barbara Bruce is a reporter for the White Mountain Independent, covering arts and entertainment on the Mountain and the Pinetop-Lakeside town government.

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