Tonopah residents who are fighting a new Hickman's Family Farms facility in the town are taking the fight to Clint Hickman, a co-owner of the company and Maricopa County Supervisor.
A lawsuit filed against Hickman alleges that some of the signs used by Hickman in his re-election campaign -- featuring the shape of an egg -- are akin to a company directly influencing a campaign. The lawsuit asks that Hickman be removed from the ballot, and actually removed from office.
"Someone on that Board [of Supervisors] needs to be able to represent us," Tonopah resident Linda Williams tells New Times.
Although Williams didn't file the lawsuit, she supports it, and she's part of the coalition of Tonopah residents who have sued over the new Hickman's facility in town.
The citizens' group, calling themselves Save Tonopah Oppose Poultry Plant (STOPP), have filed a lawsuit with the intention of having a county judge declaring the plant a nuisance, and ordering a halt the building of the plant. The lawsuit alleges the facility will generally disrupt the lives of people who reside in Tonopah, an unincorporated community about 50 miles west of downtown Phoenix.
In their fight against the plant, these residents have run into a bit of a conundrum at the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. They would want their district's representative to help them fight the plant, but Hickman's their representative. Hickman recuses himself from things related to the company, and Williams says none of the other supervisors seem eager to take up their cause.
"If we would ask anything about the Hickman's issue, they would just say, 'No comment,'" she says.
Hence the targeting of Hickman's campaign.
The relevant part of the state law referenced in the lawsuit says the following:
" . . . it is unlawful for a corporation or a limited liability company to make an expenditure or any contribution of money or anything of value for the purpose of influencing an election, and it is unlawful for the designating individual who formed an exploratory committee, an exploratory committee, a candidate or a candidate's campaign committee to accept any contribution of money or anything of value from a corporation or a limited liability company for the purpose of influencing an election."
The lawsuit alleges the Hickman's logo on the Republican county supervisor's campaign signs is the item of value.
Hickman did not return a message left with his assistant yesterday afternoon.
You can see that the signs don't contain the exact Hickman's logo, but there certainly are similarities, including the choice of font and the presence of the egg.
It probably won't get Hickman removed from office, but it appears that these Tonopah residents won't go away quietly.
Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.