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Mesa: Another Pearce challenger ordered to remove signs

Olivia Cortes (File photo)

Olivia Cortes, one of the challengers in the recall election targeting Senate President Russell Pearce, has been told by Mesa officials to take down her campaign signs.

The city sent Cortes a letter last week telling the candidate she had until 5 p.m. Monday to remove her campaign signs. The city will begin taking them down today if they’re still standing.

Cortes, a Republican, did not return multiple messages seeking her comment.

The city’s code-enforcement department says Cortes erected the signs along public roads earlier than the law permits.

State law allows campaign signs 60 days before a primary election. That means the earliest that the signs can be erected is Sept. 9, according to the city’s interpretation of the law.

Additionally, some of Cortes’ signs don’t conform to regulations requiring them to be placed at least 15 feet away from curbs.

Steven Hether, deputy director for the city’s Development Services unit, said the signs also don’t have either Cortes’ contact information or that of her campaign committee, one of the standards for campaign signs in state law.

Cortes has about 10 campaign signs in the city, Hether said.

The warning was issued to Cortes in the same week that the city also told a group that supports Pearce to remove its signs attacking Randy Parraz, one of the organizers of the recall drive.

The group, Citizens Who Oppose the Pearce Recall, took down its signs over the weekend.

The group’s chairman, Matt Tolman, earlier said he disagreed with the city’s reading of this law, noting that a court challenge to the recall petition is still being heard in court and therefore it’s not an election yet.

Nevertheless, the group decided to cooperate with the city and removed them anyway.

The signs, which were printed in red and white, claimed that Parraz supports “open borders” and supported the boycott against Arizona. The signs also called him “a liberal extremist” who is opposed to “East Valley values.”

Parraz denied the claims and threatened a defamation lawsuit against Tolman and Pearce.

In addition to Cortes, Republican Jerry Lewis and Libertarian Michael Kielsky are also challenging Pearce.

So far, only Lewis has submitted signatures to qualify for the ballot.

A charter school executive and former high-ranking member of the Mormon church, Lewis is considered to be the frontrunner among the challengers.

Meanwhile, the state’s justices will review a petition on Wednesday about whether to transfer the lawsuit challenging the recall petition to the Arizona Supreme Court.

The case is currently pending in the Arizona Court of Appeals.

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