Apache Junction voters won't get to decide the fate of five members of the City Council facing recall on the same November ballot that will carry the race for the U.S. president.
Recall advocates calling themselves the Committee for Honest Government filed a petition for writ of mandamus July 31, less than a month after they filed signatures for the recall efforts.
The goal of recall leaders Jim Stephens and Shannon Flynn was to expedite counting of the recall petition signatures to get the recalls onto the Nov. 4 ballot.
That is because the presidential election is expected to create a large turnout.
On Wednesday, Pinal County Superior Court Judge William O'Neil denied the request, ensuring that the recalls, if approved for a ballot, will be on a March ballot instead.
While O'Neil said in his opinion that he agreed that government must follow law in processing elections, he added that the recall group turned in the signatures on the last possible day before deadline, putting them behind other election issues the county must deal with and playing a part in the recalls missing the November ballot.
"Petitioners' own exercise of discretion to not speedily file their petitions and their own exercise of discretion to not turn in these signatures earlier have precluded any recall elections from being consolidated with the Nov.4 general election," he wrote in his decision.
Recall advocates could not be reached for comment.
The recall efforts target Mayor John Insalaco and council members R.E. Eck, Robin Barker, Jeff Serdy and Rick Dietz, and began shortly after the two-year contract of former police Chief Glenn Walp was not renewed.
Recall leaders say they are also targeting City Manager George Hoffman and City Attorney Joel Stern, whom they want the new council to fire and replace.
The city released a news release announcing the decision, adding that the city was denied a reimbursement of attorneys' fees after having to respond to the court case.
City officials had no estimates on Friday regarding the case's cost, but said that Stern acted as attorney on behalf of the city.
Officials with the Pinal County Recorder's Office said Friday that due to a surge in election questions that need approval, the recall petitions have not yet been verified for the ballot.
The office has 60 days to verify the petitions.
The Apache Junction City Clerk's Office has already pre-verified the signatures in a preliminary review.