FLAGSTAFF – A former Flagstaff mayoral candidate, Victor Varela, has been indicted by a grand jury for forging petition signatures. Varela was running for Mayor of Flagstaff before withdrawing from the race in July of this year.
The City of Flagstaff recently posted the following alert:
“The City would also like to inform voters that Victor Varela has withdrawn his candidacy for Mayor. Because the primary ballot has already been printed and mailed to voters who have elected to vote early by mail, Mr. Varela’s name will be on the primary ballot; however, any votes cast for Mr. Varela will not be counted.”
Varela was charged on 12 counts, including Fraudulent Schemes and Practices, Presentment of False Instrument for Filing, and Signing of Petitions Violation.
According to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, Varela allegedly knowingly made and submitted forged petition signatures between January 2020 and April 2020. In several instances Varela purportedly stated that he verified on the forms “that each of the names on the petition was signed in my presence on the date indicated” and that “each signer was a qualified elector who resides at the address given as their residence on the date indicated” when that was not the case.
Nominating petitions for Flagstaff are submitted to the City Clerk. According to the City Charter, “The petition or petitions for nomination, consisting of signatures of qualified voters, aggregating not less than five (5) percent, nor more than ten (10) percent of the number of electors voting at the last preceding municipal General Election, shall be presented to the City Clerk not earlier than one hundred-twenty (120) days, nor later than ninety (90) days before the date set for the Primary Election.”
This, according to the Attorney General’s Office, would have required somewhere approximately between 1,045 (5%) and 2,089 (10%) valid signatures required to qualify for the 2020 primary ballot.