Lemmon Soured?

A Reform Party Mayoral Candidate Runs Afoul Of Tucson Residency Requirements.

By Chris Limberis

REFORM PARTY turnstile politics have made him ineligible to collect City of Tucson matching funds, and are threatening an early end to his upstart campaign.

Currents Fleishman violated a key provision in city election law that requires candidates to be qualified electors--properly registered voters--and residents of the city for not less than three years immediately prior to becoming a candidate.

A Tucson Weekly check of voter registration records in the Pima County Recorder's Office shows Fleishman, 26, registered to vote on January 31, 1998, on Mount Lemmon, far outside the city limits. He did not re-register in the city until September 30, 1998, less than a year before the city primary election and a little more than 13 months before voters will choose a new mayor as well as fill three of six City Council seats.

Fleishman, a day trader of stock options, said this week he's confident he'll be on the November 2 ballot.

"I wholeheartedly believe that residence is most important. I never moved. I never cast the ballot (at the Mount Lemmon precinct). I never got any of the mail for that election and didn't even know where the polling place was."

City Clerk Kathleen Detrick, who also learned early this month of Fleishman's out-of-city voter registration, cancelled his contract for matching campaign funds in an April 6 letter.

"The affidavit which you signed under oath on March 5, 1999, declared that you have been a qualified elector and a resident of the City of Tucson continuously since 1994. However...according to the records available to me, you were not a qualified elector and resident of the City of Tucson from January 31, 1998, through September 29, 1998," Detrick wrote.

Fleishman did not take Detrick up on her offer to contest the finding with a new affidavit. Instead he says he wants to run his campaign on a "shoestring budget" without taking taxpayers' money in the matching-fund program. Candidates qualify for the program by raising 300 contributions of at least $10 each from city residents.

A member of the committee that is recommending the city build a new City Hall, Fleishman registered to vote on Mount Lemmon after a brief encounter with Pima County Supervisor Ray Carroll, the Republican who was then running to retain the District 4 seat he was appointed to in 1997.

"I had read about him and liked what I read," Fleishman said. "I registered using my parents' cabin (address)." He later went to work for Carroll, helping with constituent problems. But Fleishman, the son of a doctor, left after only a month and a half because, he admits, he was inserting his own agenda too much.

That was just one stop of the short, but frenetic, political odyssey Fleishman has taken.

Since returning from school at the University of Colorado, Fleishman registered on October 3, 1995, as an independent in the city; on January 6, 1997, as a Democrat; on January 31, 1998, as a Republican; on September 30, 1998, apparently as a Democrat--he wrote something in the party block, crossed it out and then wrote "just kidding" on his voter registration form; and finally on March 2--just three days before filing for candidacy--as a member of the Reform Party.

Detrick did not rule on Fleishman's eligibility as a candidate. He's seeking to be nominated for the November 2 general election by simply getting enough signatures--1,274--of registered voters by June 24.

But she warned Fleishman "that my actions will not prevent another candidate, or any other qualified city (voter) from challenging your qualifications for office."

Fleishman says he'll rely on the work of his ally, Demetri Downing, a recent law-school graduate and loser in the 1997 northside Ward 3 City Council election, to remain on the ballot. Downing, who received just 16 percent of the vote, also saw voter registration and voter participation problems swamp his limited candidacy. Downing, however, sought to reverse the city's decision on matching funds.

The last mayoral candidate to have dual registration problems--Democrat Chuck Ford--did not lose his place on the primary ballot in 1991. Ford, a former two-term member of the City Council, registered to vote and voted while living in Massachusetts less than three years before becoming a mayoral candidate in Tucson. That is the same year Democratic Councilman Roger Sedlmayr survived a challenge to his residency qualifications when he and his wife lived well outside the city limits in Bear Canyon. TW

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