Chandler USD governing board member David Evans withdrew from the school board race in late July after a challenger questioned the validity of the voter registration of some of the people who signed Evans' petition—including Evans' own registration, according to comments from Evans and documentation shared with Community Impact Newspaper.
Jason Olive, who is running for one for one of three seats on the school board, was one of two petitioners listed on a lawsuit with the Maricopa County Superior Court. The second petitioner is listed as Chandler resident Angela Stamm.
Olive and Stamm alleged that signatures on Evans' petition were ineligible or disallowed, according to court records.
Evans said he was informed of the petition challenge July 16 and received the lawsuit in his mailbox the day before the first hearing. He said he did not have enough time to file necessary paperwork to fight the allegations. As a result, he said, he decided to withdraw from the election.
According to Arizona state law, "any elector may challenge a candidate for any reason relating to qualifications for the office sought as prescribed by law."
When running for an elected office, candidates are required to turn in a certain number of signatures to get on the ballot. Evans turned in 418 signatures and 400 were required, according to records from Maricopa County Elections. Other candidates running turned in 930, 740 and 1,272 signatures, respectively.
"Plaintiffs have provided a report of ineligible or disallowed signatures as found on petitions they requested from the Maricopa County Recorder's Office, but in the process of discovery, they have not included the detail on which they have made the determinations," read Evans' motion to dismiss the case, which was shared with Community Impact Newspaper. "Plaintiffs have provided nothing more than a worksheet with page numbers, and line numbers, coding and a Legend to help determine their basis for elimination. They provided no other discovery."
According to the official Signed Certification Report submitted by the Office of the Recorder for Maricopa County Adrian Fontes, 65 signatures were identified as ineligible by the plaintiffs. On closer inspection by the recorder's office, 32 were deemed valid, and 33 were listed as invalid.
Evans' own voter registration was questioned in the lawsuit, as was the registration of O.D. Harris, who won a seat on the Chandler City Council in the Aug. 4 election.
According to emails shared with Community Impact Newspaper, the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office conducted a review of the signatures Evans submitted and determined that Evans was 15 signatures short of the number of signatures of qualified electors needed to qualify for the ballot.
"I withdrew because there was no way I could come up with all the people they needed to verify. I had nine right off the bat, but I couldn't get the rest of them to get on a virtual call within 23 hours," Evans said.
Evans has been on the Chandler USD governing board for 16 years. This would have been his fifth election. In previous elections, Evans said, he has collected more than 900 signatures, but due to the coronavirus pandemic this year, he did not want to risk the health and safety of others by requesting signatures.
Olive said upon looking at the signatures for Evans' candidacy, he noted there were "quite a lot of them"—meaning signatures of registered voters—that were not good signatures. Olive also said he felt that Evans had enough time to respond to the allegations.
"Apparently, he hadn't done enough work to get a whole lot of signatures," Olive said. "When I took a look at them, he was very short because not all of them were good signatures. It looks like Dave got all signatures in that last couple of weeks before paperwork was due."
Olive said it was ultimately the county that determined which signatures were invalid.
"They didn't just take our word for it; they went over them as well," Olive said.
Olive, a parent in Chandler, said this is his first time running for an elected position and that he "has no agenda" for the school board or the district.
"I'm trying to run to support the district and help out where I can," Olive said.
Board President Barb Mozdzen is running for re-election, as are former district employee Joel Wirth and write-in candidate Sharon Tuttle.
Evans said he is frustrated by the outcome of the situation but said he knows the school board and the district will continue to do great things. He said he plans to continue working in education after he finishes his term on the board. Evans also sits on the board of an organization called BootUp, which is dedicated to "empowering elementary teachers and students through computer science and creating equitable computer science programs in underrepresented and underserved communities," according to the company website.
"My son went through this district for all 12 years and was so well-prepared by his teachers and staff," Evans said. "People who are employees in this district take an interest in every student. I feel like this district really nurtures every single student. I'm so proud to have been involved with the people who have been so great and help students prepare for their lives and teach them to think for themselves. I'm really happy to have been a small part of what I think is a fantastic district. I know that will continue. We have great people who care about our kids."
Evans said he hopes Olive does a great job if he is elected to the board.
"I wish him nothing but the best, and I know he will keep up the tradition and work for the benefit of the kids," Evans said.
Chandler USD governing board member David Evans withdraws from election after challenger questions petition signatures
David Evans has formally withdrawn from the Chandler USD governing board race. (Community Impact staff)