Arizona cities refuse to enforce statewide curfew

Volunteers help sweep up broken glass from the vandalism damage at Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall Sunday, May 31, in Scottsdale, Ariz., following a night of unrest and protests over the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died in police custody with much of the arrest captured on video of a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on the neck of Floyd. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Volunteers help sweep up broken glass from the vandalism damage at Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall Sunday, May 31, in Scottsdale, Ariz., following a night of unrest and protests over the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died in police custody with much of the arrest captured on video of a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on the neck of Floyd. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

A dozen or so Arizona cities and counties have no intention to enforce Gov. Doug Ducey’s statewide curfew he declared on May 31. 

At least four county sheriffs so far have publicly stated they think the curfew is unnecessary or does not affect their area.

Sheriffs in Yuma County, Navajo County, Greenlee County and Santa Cruz County were among those who essentially said no. 

“The Yuma County Sheriff’s Office will not be enforcing the Curfew Order unless there is a need to enforce it, such as the event of a riot,” Yuma County Sheriff Leon Wilmot said in a written statement. 

Yuma was one of the rural cities Ducey pointed to as those he spoke with before declaring the statewide curfew that will take place every night between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. until June 8, though it may also be extended. 

However, a spokeswoman for Yuma Mayor Douglas Nicholls said that isn’t true.

“Mayor Nicholls was not in any discussion with the Governor’s Office prior to the announcement of the emergency declaration,” said spokeswoman Lucy Valencia. 

Sierra Vista was another city he apparently talked to, but Mayor Rick Mueller said his city has not seen riots or violent protests and that the police department does not expect to need to use the curfew. 

The city’s police chief added that protests have been peaceful and respectful so far. 

“We will show citizens the same respect in carrying out this order by emphasizing education on the state’s guidance, unless enforcement is called for to protect safety or property,” SVPD Chief Adam Thrasher said. 

In Ducey’s Sunday afternoon announcement, he credited “local leaders” in helping him make that decision, but neither he nor anybody on his staff has revealed who those leaders were,

Phoenix, Tucson and Scottsdale are the only three cities to see damage from riots and “looting” over four nights of protests, but all three mayors have said they did not talk to the governor before the announcement and they did not request the curfew.

The call for a curfew appears to have come from a handful of East Valley cities that feared the kind of looting they saw at Scottsdale Fashion Square would hit their cities next.

A spokesman for the City of Chandler said Mayor Kevin Hartke along with mayors from Gilbert, Mesa and Tempe all expressed interest in a regional curfew if there was not a statewide mandate. 

“There was some discussion amongst the four cities that there was an interest and they relayed that to the Governor’s Office,” Chandler spokesman Matt Burdick said. 

He said that Chandler has not seen any violence over the past four nights of protests across the state, but this was more of a preventative measure.

Mesa Mayor John Giles, who was on that call around noon on May 31 (roughly an hour before the announcement), said in a statement he did not request the curfew, but does support it. 

Ducey didn’t give so much as a heads-up to the Democratic mayors of cities that actually had mass protests, Phoenix and Tucson, which has almost become par for the course over the past several months. 

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said she hasn’t spoken to Ducey in months and Tucson Mayor Regina Romero said she found out about the curfew from the governor’s tweet.

Ducey’s staff has said the curfew is not designed to be enforced against law abiding citizens, but to be used as a tool for law enforcement “to prevent the lawlessness we’ve seen here and in cities nationwide.” 

But since the “lawlessness” the governor describes has only happened in three major cities, others won’t comply. 

Greenlee County Sheriff Tim Sumner said his county, with the smallest population in the state, will not be enforcing the curfew. 

“As the Sheriff, I advised my deputies and staff we would not be enforcing the Covid 19 Orders and now we will not be enforcing this Curfew Order, as again, it is not a law,” Sumner said.

The Holbrook Police Department announced on Sunday that since there had been no protests or riots in Holbrook, the city would also not enforce the curfew. 

“We feel that enforcing a curfew would have a negative effect upon our city,” the department said in a statement. 

The City of Winslow also said it would not enforce the curfew on its residents. 

“We are neither Minneapolis nor Phoenix. We are Winslow, and we will not have our rights and our way of life in Winslow compromised by a ‘one size fits all’ regulation such as this latest order,” Winslow Mayor Thomas McCauley said in a statement.

But some counties of course will comply.

Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier, after speaking to Ducey, said the curfew should help address the high level of violence.

Ducey announces completion of freeway that connects east, west valleys

Construction vehicles ride on the Ed Pastor Freeway in southwest Phoenix, which is set to open by the end of the year. (Photo courtesy Arizona Department of Transportation
Construction vehicles ride on the Ed Pastor Freeway in southwest Phoenix, which is set to open by the end of the year. (Photo courtesy Arizona Department of Transportation)

Gov. Doug Ducey announced the completion of the controversial 202 South Mountain Freeway decades in the making, but he couldn’t say when it will open.

The $1.7 billion project, the largest highway project in state history, was made possible by voters through the passage of Prop 300 in 1985 and Prop 400 in 2004. Construction finished three years early and saved taxpayers $100 million.

“As many more people choose Arizona we’re making sure our infrastructure remains some of the best in America,” Ducey said.  “The project was a massive undertaking that required decades of work for local, state, tribal, federal and private partners.”

The governor said he has budgeted an additional $6 million to hire new Department of Public Safety patrol officers to monitor the roadway, which is expected to have 117,000 cars a day. Department of Transportation Director John Halikowski said the freeway is expected to open by the end of the year after ADOT completes its last round of inspections.

The 22-mile freeway that connects the east and west valley, Ahwatukee Foothills and Laveen, is named after the late Congressman Ed Pastor, who made significant contributions to the state’s infrastructure.

Although it’s expected to open soon, it’s not finished. Some parts still need to be paved, an interchange at 32nd street needs to be built, as does a bridge for pedestrians and a walking and biking path in Ahwatukee.

Those final touches could cause parts of the freeway to be closed.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego highlighted the economic impact of the project and said that by better connecting the east and west valley, more people will be able to contribute to different parts of the area’s economy and give opportunities for more businesses to sprout up and benefit from the traffic.

“You will see benefits from this freeway whether you live in this section of Phoenix, or whether you’re coming from the east valley, or west,” Gallego said. “Whether you’re a pedestrian, a driver or a bus rider, you have something to celebrate in today’s bridge.”

The freeway stems from Interstate 10 in west Phoenix, and runs through parts of the Gila River Indian Community and communities nestled by South Mountain.

Small group of Republicans buck their party, vote their conscience

The following story is the fourth of five to be published over two weeks based on voting data the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting pulled for the 2017 legislative session. The nonprofit group analyzed the number of floor votes that each lawmaker cast the same as every other lawmaker. The result is a first of its kind look at voting patterns between Arizona legislators, revealing alike votes and disparities – some known anecdotally, others not seen before – between lawmakers, at times regardless of party affiliation. Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting set a minimum threshold of 230 alike votes in the House of Representatives and 435 alike votes in the state Senate to gauge how often lawmakers vote alike with one another.

The threshold could be expanded or shrunk, but think of the analysis like a microscope: zooming in too close, or not far enough, won’t reveal anything of interest. Finding the right magnification, or in this case, the right threshold of alike votes in each chamber, produces significant results and visualizes alike votes among legislators.

No man is an island, they say.

Tell that to Sen. Warren Petersen and Reps. Eddie Farnsworth and Rusty Bowers.

These Republicans certainly don’t vote alike with Democrats, according to an Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting analysis. They also have the distinction of being the most likely to buck their own party.

The three East Valley Republicans have an independent streak, the analysis shows, a tendency to vote no on bills that the rest of their Republican colleagues approve. In some cases, they’re the lone no vote on a bill, period, even when all Democrat and Republican lawmakers in both the Senate and House of Representatives approve of a bill.

Rep. Rusty Bowers (R-Mesa)
Rep. Rusty Bowers (R-Mesa)

That was the case with Bowers, who was the only lawmaker in either chamber to vote against HB2192, a bill that placed restrictions on the driver’s licenses of parents who aren’t making child support payments.

[Use the interactive data tool created by AZCIR to discover the alike votes between each representative HERE.]

Bowers, who represents Mesa, said he’s not trying to make a distinction as an outlier, or abide by some “strict code.” He’s just casting votes based on the knowledge at hand, like when he was the lone vote against HB2192 in the House – he heard from court officials how detrimental losing one’s license can be.

“To restrict a driver’s license, except in a case where somebody’s a danger to other people’s lives, how’s he going to fulfill obligations if he doesn’t have a car in order to get to work. Or, how’s he going to fulfill obligations if he can’t get to a court date or meet a probation officer,” Bowers said.

Bowers will sometimes get a few “eyeballs” – curious stares or glares, he said, when he’s the lone dissenting vote. The same could be said of Petersen and Farnsworth, who both hail from the same legislative district in Gilbert.

Sen. Warren Petersen (R-Gilbert)
Sen. Warren Petersen (R-Gilbert)

Petersen was one of only three lawmakers in the Senate to vote against a bill to lower the minimum age at which restaurant workers could serve alcohol from 19 to 18 years old, and was one of just two senators to vote against a measure to extend a window for Native American military veterans to recover income taxes withheld from their paychecks while they were on active duty. Farnsworth and Bowers voted against that bill, too.

[Use the interactive data tool created by AZCIR to discover the alike votes between each senator HERE.]

Sen. David Farnsworth (R-Mesa)
Sen. David Farnsworth (R-Mesa)

Farnsworth was the only representative to vote against a bill to make wulfenite Arizona’s official state mineral. He even voted against one bill in the budget – a package of bills that Republicans routinely approve.

Petersen and Farnsworth did not respond to multiple calls for comment.

Rep. T.J. Shope, R-Coolidge, wasn’t surprised. He said those lawmakers are part of a caucus of “no,” a cluster of Republicans who regularly don’t vote yes with their colleagues. But they’re not necessarily voting no for the sake of it – they’re just voting their conscience, according to GOP political consultant Constantin Querard.

There’s something of a luxury to being in the majority with votes to spare that makes it easier to vote against legislation knowing full well that a colleague’s bill will still get approved. Still, the lawmakers with independent streaks are also ones with strongly held beliefs and values that inform most of their votes.

“Those guys, that’s not artificial independence,” Querard said. “They take their oath very seriously, they have very critical eyes when it comes to legislation, and they do what they believe to be right.”


Find out more about your lawmakers’ voting patterns below:

Swing-district Dems use divergent vote tactics in Legislature

House Dem leader crosses aisle more often than party colleagues

Moderate GOP lawmakers exist in name only, study finds

Some GOP lawmakers vote solid red, support caucus bills

Timing of Worsley retirement leaves LD25 Republicans angry

Sen. Bob Worsley, R-Mesa (Photo by Rachel Leingang, Arizona Capitol Times)
Sen. Bob Worsley (R-Mesa) (Photo by Rachel Leingang/Arizona Capitol Times)

Sen. Bob Worsley won’t seek re-election this fall, and the timing of his announcement has some East Valley Republicans furious that it’s now too late to enter the race.

His retirement clears the field for newcomer Tyler Pace’s election to the state Senate. Worsley denied recruiting Pace, a fellow Mesa Republican, but said after meeting with his would-be primary opponent, he determined he’d be an excellent senator for Legislative District 25.

“I think he’s just a good guy,” Worsley said of Pace. “He’s not going to make all the decisions I would’ve made, but I just think he’s a reasonable guy.”

Rep. Rusty Bowers, R-Mesa, isn’t buying it.

“The fix is in,” Bowers told the Arizona Capitol Times on June 18. “I guess he’s too scared that somebody might want to actually just take a run at it.”

Bowers didn’t even realize there was another Republican running for the Senate in LD25 until Worsley’s announcement. Bowers since met with Pace on June 20 and discovered that the young candidate is married to the niece of Kirk Adams, Gov. Doug Ducey’s chief of staff and a prominent East Valley Republican.

“He calls him Uncle Kirk,” Bowers said. “He said that Kirk was surprised by what he did.”

Pace could not be reached for comment.

Adams confirmed Pace is married to his niece, but denied any involvement in Pace’s candidacy.

“I’m not involved with his campaign nor did I recruit him or ask him to run,” Adams wrote in a text message. “That said, I think he will represent the district well. He better, he’ll be my senator now.”

Pace’s campaign ramped up days before the May 30 deadline to submit nominating petitions to run for office. He registered his website’s domain name on May 25, the same day he created a campaign committee with the Secretary of State’s Office.

He then collected 1,461 signatures in just five days, a staggering pace of roughly 292 signatures a day.

For comparison, another legislative candidate gathered roughly 200 signatures a day, collecting more than 2,000 signatures in 10 days. That candidate, independent Mark Syms of LD28, had nearly 1,700 of those signature invalidated.

There’s no time left for East Valley Republicans to scrutinize Pace’s signatures. Petition challenges could be filed no later than June 13.

Nor is there time for another candidate to enter the fray in LD25. With Worsley’s exit, the race is down to Pace, who’s unchallenged in the GOP primary, and Democrat Kathy Mohr-Almeida. In a district where Republican voters outnumber Democrats roughly two to one, Pace has a clear path to the Senate.

Rustin Pearce, an LD25 precinct committeemen and the nephew of former Sen. Russell Pearce, said some East Valley Republicans are livid that Worsley cleared a path for Pace by announcing his resignation after the deadline to qualify for the ballot. A small group of LD25 Republicans were trying to find a candidate to run against Worsley in the primary, Pearce said.

When Worsley was apparently seeking re-election, other prospective candidates took a pass on the race.

“Nobody wanted to get into that mess because Bob Worsley was willing to spend so much money,” Pearce said.

The last time Worsley faced a serious Republican challenger in the LD25 primary, he loaned his campaign $452,000.

“Who wants to throw away a half a million dollars to get a $24,000 job?” Bowers said.

Worsley acknowledged that he only left the race because Pace seems like a reasonable Republican, and wanted to ensure the district was represented by the right person. Pace can give the district a fresh start, whereas Worsley would have been termed out after another two years in the Senate, the senator said.

“I looked at the next two years and said, I don’t think in this environment I’m gonna be real helpful, and I can get more done on the outside supporting good people and trying to help the party wake up from this nap,” Worsley told the Arizona Capitol Times.

A successful businessman outside the Capitol, Worsley first took office in 2013 after defeating Russell Pearce, who was recalled in 2011 after spearheading Arizona’s most famous anti-illegal immigration law, SB1070. Tyler Montague, an East Valley consultant who first helped recruit Worsley to run in 2012, said the senator was ready to retire after one term.

“Bob’s told tons of people, ‘Hey I would love not to run. But I don’t want to have done all this work and have one of the Pearces or somebody like that, someone with that mindset, take over and embarrass the state.’” Montague said