After a week that saw a police association slam him and two attempts to have his challenger kicked off the ballot fail, Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers was undaunted.
“I’m certainly prepared to fight to keep my job,” Weiers said. He faces challenger Michelle Robertson in the Aug. 4 primary.
The Arizona Fraternal Order of Police sent out a press release April 23 criticizing Weiers for “falsely claiming the backing of public safety.”
Sean Mattson, president of the organization, which represents more than 9,000 officers, acknowledged backing Weiers when he ran for mayor in 2016.
But not this year.
“Glendale has one of the highest crime rates in Arizona and it’s a dangerous place for residents and for our officers,” Mattson said.
“While our officers struggle to protect residents, Mayor Weiers has been silent when it matters. More to the point, he’s consistently failed to give law enforcement the resources and support we need to fight crime for the taxpayers we serve.”
Weiers said that characterization is false: “I think our officers are absolutely my No. 1 priority,” he said.
“What this comes down to is a person incredibly upset over the decision by myself and the majority of council made to put resource officers in our schools to protect students,” Weiers said.
Weiers said two years ago, the city was paying two police officers and two firefighters to be full-time union representatives.
“We felt at the time we would be better off protecting students and teachers by taking one firefighter and one police officer off the union (positions) and putting them in schools — they weren’t happy about it,” Weiers said.
“Apparently, the unions have never gotten over it.”
After a challenge by Weiers’ supporter Demetra Lau, Adrian Fontes, the Maricopa County Recorder, ruled April 23 that 830 of the signatures gathered in support of Robertson were no good.
But Fontes ruled 238 signatures disputed by Weiers’ supporters were valid.
Robertson turned in 2,358 signatures. Even with the disallowed signatures, she still had 231 more than the minimum of 1,297.
Lau also filed a court challenge over the signatures.
After hearing arguments April 23, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge James Smith made his ruling four days later.
Smith ruled against the plaintiff, meaning Robertson will be on the ballot.
Lau did not respond to a phone call asking if she will appeal the decision. Councilwoman Joyce Clark made a similar appeal to reject signatures of her challenger, Bryce Alexander.
After Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Teresa Alexander’s April 27 rejection of Clark’s request to have Alexander removed from the ballot, Clark filed an appeal with the Arizona Supreme Court
Ben Scheel, Robertson’s spokesman, said the Robertson campaign collected extra signatures “in case something like this happened — where people who have political motivations to try to pull you off the ballot.”
Hours before the ruling was released, Weiers said the key part of Lau’s suit was over a signature collector who had previously been convicted of a felony.
“The guy’s felon who should not be allowed to go knocking on doors to get people’s signatures,” Weiers said.
Scheel insisted the man with a felony conviction had every right to collect signatures. “This man has served his time. He has paid his dues. He’s a registered voter. To demonize him to try to make a living in these times, it’s pretty horrible,” Scheel said..
Weiers said challenging the signatures was not his idea.
“I was told there were a lot of people upset about it, and would I have a problem if they challenged it. I said no,” Weiers said.
Weiers’ supporters have until May 2to appeal Smith’s ruling.
“If they want to keep spending money and down this hole, fine,” Scheel said.
Robertson has worked for Cartwright School District in Phoenix for 18 years. According to her profile on the district website, Robertson has been a teacher and content specialist before her current role in human resources.
“It’s obvious we have support from the citizens of Glendale to run a campaign and be on the ballot in August,” Scheel said.
While Weiers said he is confident he has support for reelection, it won’t come from the Fraternal Order of Police.
“Arizona’s police officers absolutely do not support Jerry Weiers,” Mattson said.
“The only thing we’d feel good about him running for would be the exit at City Hall.”