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Residency of Yuma legislative candidate under question

Republican candidate Gary Snyder has previously said he lives in San Luis, but the city is not in the district where he is currently running for the Arizona House of Representatives.

YUMA, Ariz. — Here we go again.

As primary ballots go out next week, some Republican voters in southwest Arizona want to know if the candidates actually live in their districts. For the third time in 12 years, Yuma voters are questioning whether a Republican legislative candidate is using their area for political gain.

Where does Gary Garcia Snyder live?

The latest race involves Gary Garcia Snyder, one of four candidates in the Republican primary for the House of Representatives in the 25th Congressional District, a sprawling district that will be redrawn in 2022 and stretches from parts of Yuma to Buckeye and Surprise.

At a Feb. 3 political rally in Yuma posted to YouTube, Snyder identified himself as a candidate in the 25th District and told the crowd, “I live on the border in San Luis, Arizona. It's an official port.”

Public records support that statement, and San Luis is not in the 25th District.

San Luis is where Mr. Snyder has listed his home address on public financial documents for years. The house is in a well-kept neighborhood near Cesar Chavez Elementary School. Mr. Snyder listed the address as his home when he ran unsuccessfully for office two years ago. The property has been in the name of his wife, Sofia, since 2008.

Snyder claims to be living in a Yuma home.

On March 17, a month after the Yuma rally, Snyder filled out a state candidate registration form attesting to owning a home in the city of Yuma, even though public records show he is not listed as the owner of the property.

12News reached out to the Snyder campaign last week to ask about the discrepancy. A representative for the Snyder campaign told 12News by phone on Friday, June 21, to send questions about this story in writing. The Snyder campaign has not responded to emails or multiple requests for comment.

“He needs to answer these questions,” said Phil Townsend, a fourth-generation Yuma resident and former Yuma County Republican Party chairman. “All of a sudden, he's running in the district where I live and he's claiming he moved. I don't know if that's true.”

Snyder is in the four-way Republican primary.

Snyder's primary race features incumbent Michael Carbone (Buckeye) and challengers Nick Cooper (Surprise) and Steve Markegaard (Surprise). Public records show Carbone, Cooper and Markegaard live within the boundaries of the 25th District. The top two vote-getters in the primary will advance to the general election.

Snyder said his spouse and children live in Yuma.

12News visited two addresses linked to Snyder on Sunday.

A car with license plates “AZREP25” was parked at the San Luis home. No one answered the door. Two neighbors said they knew Snyder had lived there for years. San Luis is in the 23rd Legislative District.

About 40 miles northeast of San Luis is the home Snyder claims as his “actual residence” on state paperwork, which also states he has lived in the 25th Legislative District “for the year prior” to the election.

A woman who identified herself as Snyder's mother answered the door. She told 12News that Snyder lives there but is visiting Phoenix and cannot be reached. When a 12News reporter informed her that Snyder was at his home in San Luis and saw a car with “AZREP25” license plates parked in the driveway, the woman said Snyder's wife and two children were living there “so they can continue to go to school.”

That's not what Snyder wrote on his campaign form in March, when he checked a box indicating his spouse and two minor children live with him at his Yuma property.

“I'm concerned about where he lives,” Townsend said, “as a representative of this district, I come back here on the weekends, and I wouldn't actually meet those people unless I was a resident of this area.”

Old joke about the “Darin Mitchell-R Mattress”

Townsend feels history is repeating itself.

After Republican Rep. Don Shooter of Phoenix was expelled from the Arizona House of Representatives in 2018 amid sexual harassment allegations, he tried to return to the House using the address of his Yuma apartment. Another candidate challenged Shooter's residence, citing evidence that the apartment had been without power, gas or water for months. A judge found the evidence contradictory but allowed Shooter to run.

Ethics lawyer Tom Ryan said judges must find that there is “clear and convincing evidence” that candidates actually live where they claim to.

The shooter lost the election.

In 2012, Republican state legislative candidate Darin Mitchell listed a friend's vacant house in Litchfield Park as his primary residence in his legislative district, which includes parts of Yuma. Ryan represented the plaintiffs in that lawsuit challenging Mitchell's residency.

Evidence presented in court showed the house had little furniture, just a mattress on the floor, and the judge ruled that Mitchell could not claim it as his residence and stripped him of his voting rights.

But Mitchell appealed the ruling on technical grounds unrelated to the residency requirement and remained on the ballot – and won his seat.

The 2012 incident has become a common joke in Yuma.

“He's Darin Mitchell, the mattress Republican,” Townsend said.

Townsend said he “anticipates” someone will come forward to challenge Snyder's residency, but there's no evidence that will happen.

“If they're not going to answer basic questions, how are they going to serve me, the voter?” Townsend said.

Snyder was involved in the false film '2,000 Mules'

Snyder's candidacy papers also include a history of alleging that he provided evidence of “ballot harvesting” to law enforcement, leading to “indictments and felony convictions.” Snyder wrote that his research was featured in the widely disparaged film “2,000 Mules.”

The makers of the film are now involved in numerous false reports across the country. In a sworn statement, the makers of the film said: Later recognized There was no evidence of fraud in court.

Yuma County Sheriff Leon Wilmot said: Arizona Mirror There was no connection between the film and the legitimate case of illegal vote harvesting indicted by the Attorney General in 2020 involving two Yuma County women.

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