Contributed File Photo: The people of Greenlee County will elect Superior Court Judge Monica L. Stauffer’s replacement despite what inaccurate “news” reports advise.
By Jon Johnson
CLIFTON – Don’t worry Greenlee County, you are still electing your own Superior Court Judge in this year’s General Election on Nov. 8. In fact, a good many have probably already checked their ballots.
On Tuesday, a Graham County radio station’s website ran a “news” article regarding the retirement of Greenlee County Superior Court Judge Monica L. Stauffer and reported that her position would be up for an appointment by the governor. A newspaper based in Greenlee County then ran the same piece, apparently without either of those outlets checking its validity with Greenlee County.
The “article” advised that anyone between the ages of 30 and 60 years old who is “of good moral character, admitted to the practice of law in Arizona, a resident of Arizona for the past five years, and a resident of Greenlee County for the past year pursuant to Article VI, Sections 22 and 37 of the Arizona Constitution” should feel free to apply to have the governor pick them for the position. The piece had no listed author and appears to have simply been directly copied from a notice from the Office of Governor Doug Ducey.
The problem is, the Greenlee County Superior Court Judge position, like the Graham County Superior Court judge position and those of the other counties, is an elected post and this – if you haven’t figured it out yet – is an election year and yes, Judge Stauffer’s seat is up for election.
In fact, there is but one candidate whose name is on the General Election ballot in Greenlee County for the Superior Court Judge position, that being former Greenlee County Attorney Jeremy Ford, who retired to run for election and is on the ballot as the Independent candidate. Ford currently works as the Greenlee County Chief Deputy County Attorney under County Attorney Scott Adams. And if Ford receives more votes than any write-in, on Jan. 1, 2023, the day after Stauffer retires, Ford will be sworn in as the new Greenlee County Superior Court Judge – as chosen by the people in an election, not appointed by the governor.
The Gila Herald contacted Ford about the notice and he advised that it was likely a simple mistake initially made by the Governor’s Office upon them being advised of Judge Stauffer’s pending retirement as the Governor does make appointments in non-elected position years.
The Governor’s Office fixed their snafu the following day and removed the link. The radio station appeared to take down its incorrect post as well after Ford contacted them about it, however, the post was still seen on the Greenlee County newspaper’s site as late as 11 a.m. on Wednesday before Ford managed to get them to remove it as well.
“I appreciate the Governor’s Office quickly addressing the error,” Ford told the Gila Herald.