April 1, 2023 / Modified apr 10, 2023 1:14 p.m.

Cochise County elections official questions petition gatherers

The interim Elections Director

Crosby recall location Volunteers Mike and Candy McCloy gathering signatures outside the parking lot of the Hereford Post Office on March 31, 2023.

This story was updated to reflect it was Mike McCloy, not Candy McCloy, who said he gained permission from the post office to gather signatures.

Petition gatherers for the Recall Tom Crosby campaign were approached by Cochise County Recorder and Interim Elections Director David Stevens Friday morning, who claimed that they were illegally gathering signatures on federal land near the Hereford Post Office.

Volunteers Mike and Candy McCloy were standing on land adjacent to the Hereford Post Office parking lot, gathering signatures in order to recall District 1 Supervisor Tom Crosby.

Mike McCloy says that shortly after 9 a.m. Friday morning that Stevens pulled into the parking lot and approached them.

“This gentleman came out and introduced himself as Cochise County Recorder David Stevens and informed me immediately that I was breaking the law, and that I had to leave,” said Mike McCloy.

McCloy said that he had permission to gather signatures on the property, to which McCloy said Stevens replied, “‘well, there might be some mistake, but this is federal property — post office property — and it’s illegal to do anything political. And therefore, you must leave. And I said ‘well, that’s not the way I understand it.’ Then, he said ‘well, I’ll call the Sheriff.’ And he went ahead and did.”

Four deputies from the Cochise County Sheriff's Office arrived but no arrests were made. A spokesperson said two deputies were dispatched to the scene and two others in the area joined.

Stevens said he approached the two volunteers because he thought that the petitioners were on federal land, and therefore, in violation of federal law — which does not permit any campaigning on federal lands.

“I didn’t know who they were, so I had to wait until I saw them again there,” said Stevens Friday evening. “A little late going to work, I drove by and I saw them out there. So, I stopped out, explained to them the situation, that this is federal property, it’s against federal law to campaign.”

The property the two were parked on is not owned by the post office but by an individual who lives in Vermont according to records at the Cochise County Assessors Office.

Stevens said after he spoke with the couple he learned the property is not owned by the federal government.

“They were outside of the federal land, so they’re not in violation of Title 39,” Stevens said.

He says that he contacted landowner Morgan Wolavet and asked them if he approved of the petitioners being on the land; Stevens said the owner told him, “He was not comfortable with having political activities on that land,” said Stevens.

In January, Mike McCloy said he got permission to petition on the land to the right of the post office parking lot, between the post office and the intersection of SR 92 and Hereford Road.

McCloy said he spoke with postal officials, who told them to just stay off the post office property. The post office does not own the property, they lease it, and it includes the building, the parking lot, and the back car lot where the mail trucks are parked.

“‘Our property goes to the edge of the parking lot,’” McCloy said the officials told him.

“‘Beyond that, it’s not post office. And if you go beyond the parking lot, stay in the dirt, you can do whatever you want to do, just stay in the dirt.’ And that’s what we’ve done,” he explained

Mike McCloy says the only other time he’s been contacted by the post office was 10 days ago.

“A woman who works here came across the parking lot and informed me that County Recorder Stevens had called them to complain about somebody being on post office property collecting petitions,” Mike McCloy said.

Candy McCloy said the reason they’re trying to recall Supervisor Crosby is due to him not voting to certify the 2022 election results in November last year.

“Because he failed to certify the vote of the people when we voted in November,” said Candy McCloy.

In December, a Pima County Judge ordered the Board of Supervisors to certify the election results following a lawsuit filed by then Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, Supervisor Crosby did not attend the emergency meeting to certify the results.

In February, the Board of Supervisors approved an agreement with Stevens to have him act as the interim elections director for the county.

The Arizona Attorney General filed a lawsuit against the board and Stevens for the agreement on March 7. The case currently will be heard in Pima County and presided over by Santa Cruz County Judge Thomas Fink.

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