When Councilman Scott September left office last week, he no longer had a cloud hanging over his head.
That’s because a misdemeanor case accusing him of tempering with campaign signs during the August Primary went away.
“This case was reviewed and prosecution declined on Dec. 15, 2022,” Phoenix city spokesman Dan Wilson said via email.
Gilbert Police last year recommended a class 2 misdemeanor charge of tampering with political signs against September but the Gilbert Prosecutor Office declined to take the case due to a conflict of interest.
Instead, the town prosecutor referred the matter to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for review and the county ended up sending the case to the City of Phoenix Prosecutor’s Office.
Gilbert resident Andrew Adams, who filed the complaint, said he was offered the option to appeal the decision but decided not to because he didn’t want to waste Phoenix’s time.
“The elections is over and done,” Adams said last week. “It is what it is. It’s a misdemeanor charge at the end. I think the election was consequent enough for his actions.”
Adams said he is instead focusing his energy doing the job as chairman of the Legislative District 14 Republicans “and doing what I can to better this community.”
“Scott September ran his race as he saw fit and got handily defeated in his election,” he said. “I think in the end people spoke as to what they thought of the kind of character he had and that’s kind of how it ended.”
September, a planning commissioner when he was appointed to fill a vacant council seat in 2020, was running for his first full term last year when the alleged incident occurred.
Adams called police Aug. 2, the morning of the Aug. 2 Primary, telling them he witnessed September going to a polling location at the Southeast Regional Library, “stealing signs that oppose him, Yung Koprowski and Bill Spence.”
Two of the signs read “Bill Spends voted for apartments, masks and higher property taxes.”
The other sign was a cartoon depiction of a male puppeteer “in a suit labeled as apartment developers” holding two stringed puppets bearing the faces of September and Koprowski, according to the police report.
The report said one of the witnesses grabbed the signs back from September and returned them to Adams.
At the time, September declined to speak to the media about what happened because he said it was a pending case. His attorney told police that September would not talk to police about the incident until “the Town of Gilbert attorney determined the validity of the sign as a political sign.”
September released a statement saying the City of Phoenix’s findings vindicated him.
“The independent review by the City of Phoenix Prosecutor’s Office validates my claim that I did not break the law and did no wrong despite the claims by my political opponents,” he said. “I am relieved that my integrity and character are not in question, and I appreciate the exhaustive efforts of the Phoenix Prosecutor for examining the facts and delivering a just response.
“I am extremely grateful for the opportunity I have had to serve Gilbert citizens over the last two and ½ years as a member of the Gilbert Town Council. I have enjoyed seeing our community from such a unique perspective and recognize the great responsibility of leadership. I will cherish the time I have spent with incredible staff, colleagues, and contributors to our great Town.”
The primary results saw September coming in at No. 7 among nine candidates, not including a write-in.
Koprowski, also an appointee running in her first election, and newcomers Jim Torgeson and Chuck Bongiovanni won their seats in August while Spence and Bobbi Buchli faced off in a tight November General Election. Buchli eventually was declared victor.
The four took their oaths of office Jan. 10. The new council also voted in Councilwoman Kathy Tilque as vice mayor.
Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board also held its organizational meeting Jan. 10 with its two new members – Chad Thompson and Ronda Page. The board voted to keep Lori Wood as president for a second year and Sheila Uggetti as board clerk for a second year.