You likely hadn’t heard of the Recorder’s Office until a few years ago. The Office oversees our elections, voter registrations, and traditional recording functions (such as titles and liens). It’s a bean-counting and administrative Office.
It used to be boring. In recent years the Office has frequently been in the news, our elections have become controversial and the race for Maricopa County Recorder (yes, it’s an elected position) has become correspondingly expensive.
That’s not a good thing. The Recorder should be like the referee in the football game. If you’re talking about the referee, it’s because the referee did something wrong, or somehow inserted himself into the game in an inappropriate manner.
Current Recorder Democrat Adrian Fontes took office in January 2017. Since then he has been the referee we’ve talked about too much because he is incompetent, unfair, unlawful, and uncivil. Here are some examples:
- Incompetent. In the 2018 August primary, 62 polling places failed to open. Laurie Roberts of The Arizona Republic wrote, “Maricopa County delivers one hot mess of an election (again, that is).” Fellow Republic columnist Elvia Diaz wrote, “Adrian Fontes is ruining his career – and our confidence in the midterm election.” Two months later, in the November general election, the Republic titled its news story accordingly: “Election Day issues: Foreclosure, technology glitches, running out of ballots.”
- Unfair. Fontes created “community relations” positions–paid for by your tax dollars–when he took Office. Public records requests show that for every 1 Republican event Fontes’ employees attend, they attend 10 Democrat ones. He’s created a taxpayer-financed de facto Democrat voter registration drive.
- Unlawful. Fontes has violated election law time and time again. In March, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs–a fellow Democrat–scolded Fontes for his latest law breaking (“you do not have legal authority”). Fontes still ignored Hobbs. That required Attorney General Mark Brnovich to get a temporary restraining order against Fontes. Laurie Roberts of the Republic wrote, “Adrian Fontes is making up election law as he goes along. This won’t end well.“
- Uncivil. Fontes regularly treats his customers–Maricopa County residents–with contempt. In one such incident, Fontes even told the voter that he should “go F” himself for complaining about Fontes’ unclear ballot instructions. When criticized for his comment, Fontes responded that “My response is not only appropriate but deserved.”
We can do better. When my team takes the Recorder’s Office, we promise a bipartisan oversight board that will ensure that elections and voter registration don’t favor one political party. We promise that all changes to election administration will be made at least 30 days prior to the election, will be in writing, and will be accompanied with detailed legal authority. We promise that our top positions will be staffed by competent managers, administrators, and elections professions, NOT political hacks and friends. We will promise to treat all County residents like valued customers.
In doing so, we will make the Office fair and competent, and then, hopefully, it can recede into the political background once more. If this sounds appealing to you, please visit my website at www.RicherForRecorder.com and please vote “Richer For Recorder” to help us Make The Recorder’s Office Boring Again.
Stephen Richer is an attorney, businessman, and the Republican nominee for Maricopa County Recorder. He and his wife (who met while both in law school at The University of Chicago) live at the base of South Mountain in Phoenix. Learn more about Stephen at his website www.RicherForRecorder.com.