It looks like Tucson City Council candidate Gary Watson needs to lawyer up.
Watson, a firefighter who is running as an independent for the open Ward 3 seat, is facing a legal challenge to his candidacy.
Attorney Vince Rabago, representing plaintiff Sheila Yamanaka, has filed a lawsuit alleging that Watson does not have enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.
Watson needs 377 signatures to qualify. He turned in 536, but Rabago alleges in a court filing that 294 are invalid, leaving Watson well shy of the minimum number of signatures.
A review of Watson’s nominating petitions from the Pima County Recorder’s Office showed that he was shy by just one signature.
But Rabago says the Recorder’s Office does not check all the various technicalities that could lead to disqualification.
Watson told the Weekly last Thursday, June 15, that he was having trouble finding legal counsel for less than $10,000. That’s a steep price to pay for a political rookie who faced an uphill battle to win a council in the first place.
If Watson is bounced from the ballot, the August Democratic primary would decide the future of the Ward 3 seat, which is now held by the retiring Karin Uhlich. Three Democrats are in the race: Paul Durham, Tom Tronsdal and Felicia Chew.
The case is set to be heard in Pima County Judge Catherine Woods’ courtroom on Friday, June 23.