FLORENCE, AZ – Jack McClaren, Constable for Justice of the Peace District 7 (Apache Junction) resigned in May because he announced plans to seek other elected office. The Pinal County Board of Supervisors will formally accept the resignation at its June 6 public meeting.
The law that covers vacancies in county offices makes a distinction between whether the vacancy occurs within the first two years of an official’s term or afterwards. In the case of a mid-term vacancy that occurs prior to the completion of the first two years of service, Arizona Revised Statute 16-230.A.2 is invoked. This states: If a county office becomes vacant, the board of supervisors shall appoint a person of the same political party as the person vacating the office to fill the portion of the term until the next regular general election. If the vacancy occurs within the first two years of the term, and before the date on which a nomination paper is required to be filed as prescribed by section 16-311, a primary election shall be held as otherwise provided by law to determine candidates to fill the unexpired term. At the next regular general election, the person elected shall fill the remainder of the unexpired term of the vacant office.
May 30 marked the deadline for the filing of nomination papers for election to the position of Constable. This was the same date that McClaren’s resignation was tendered. Any candidate interested in becoming Constable for the Apache Junction Justice Court must run as a write-in candidate for the statewide Primary Election on August 28, 2012. Candidates may be from any political party since the vacancy occurred before the first two years of service were completed.
To become a registered write-in candidate, you must file nomination papers at the Pinal County Elections Department by July 19, 2012.
Successful write-in candidates will face each other in the November 6 General Election for selection to fill the remaining two years of the Apache Junction Constable’s term.
To be eligible for election as Constable, Arizona law specifies that the following criteria be met by each potential candidate:
- Must be a legal Arizona resident living within the Apache Junction Justice Court District 7 (see map at http://goo.gl/wx4ar),
- Must be registered to vote,
- Must be able to read and write the English language and,
- Must be at least 18 years of age.
The term “Constable” comes from the Latin comes stabuli or “count of the stables.” During the Byzantine era, the person holding this position was responsible for care and supervision of the royal court’s horses. Over time, the position became one of great military importance, gradually evolving into a position usually dealing with the enforcement of law and order.
In the United States, the office of Constable varies by state and region. Constables are elected officers of the County and must be 18 and live in the precinct or district in which they are elected. Pinal County Constables serve four year terms. The primary responsibility of a Constable is the service of process for the Justice of the Peace courts. They serve summons, injunctions, writs and orders.
Constables are classified as peace officers but do not regularly perform police functions such as patrols, arrests or investigations unless specifically certified to do so.
Title 22 of the Arizona Revised Statutes provides more detail on the duties of Constables and how they work with the Justices of the Peace and Justice Courts. See http://www.azleg.state.az.us/ArizonaRevisedStatutes.asp?Title=22
for more information.