Elected Quartzsite councilman continues fight for seat in federal court

At an evidentiary hearing Thursday in federal court, Quartzsite councilman-elect Mark Orgeron tried to convince Chief Judge Silver that, despite the claims of the Town of Quartzsite, he was a resident of the town when he ran for office and won, and that he should therefore be seated as a council member immediately.

Both Orgeron and his wife testified at the hearing, which included some questioning about an apparent typo on his driver’s license which mixed up the last two digits of his zip code. It turned out to be an innocent mistake by someone at the MVD who made the typo when they tried to consolidate Orgeron’s records.

Orgeron’s attorneys argued that this evidence should be enough to rule in Orgeron’s favor, seating him as a rightful council member of Quartzsite.

One courtroom observer had this comment:

“I’m sorry to report that Mr. Orgeron will make a lousy politician. On the witness stand he was thoughtful, intelligent – and honest. Both he and his wife demonstrated they are salt of the earth people. The Town’s attorney tried to pepper them a bit, but he looked childish as Mr. Orgeron explained everything cogently. I don’t think there’s any question in the Judge’s mind – or anyone’s mind, including the incumbents’ – that Mr. Orgeron is a bona fide resident of Quartzsite. The Town should concede.”

Judge Silver repeated the Town ordinance stating that the winner of an election “shall” be seated, saying that it sounds simple enough. Some observers therefore expected that she would grant a temporary injunction to Orgeron Thursday, but she said wanted to hear further argument on a more technical legal issue. The parties have until July 20th to respond, which means that a ruling is not likely until the last week of July at the earliest.

Meanwhile, an Arizona state case is still pending for Ed Foster, who was elected Mayor of Quartzsite in May but has been kept from taking his seat by a council and administration who argue that he was ineligible to run in the first place because he owes them money. The man who was voted out as Mayor in that election recently resigned his seat after some apparent unease over the legality of staying in power after losing the vote.

The incumbent who lost her seat to Orgeron remains on the council.

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