Quartzsite: Front Page Focus of National Media…for All the Wrong Reasons

It’s not the first time the desert town of Quartzsite off Interstate 10 in western Arizona, has been the focus of national news reports—and it undoubtedly won’t be the last.

Quartzsite in the national media

But this may be the only time the dusty community of about 3,500 hits the front page of a newspaper with worldwide circulation.

The USA Today, with a circulation of around 1.8 million copies daily, is beaten only by the Wall Street Journal (2.1 million), which has also featured Quartzsite on several occasions in the past number of months, reports parkerliveonline.com.

A photograph of Quartzsite’s recently seated mayor, Ed Foster, graces the front cover of the paper, accompanying a story about turbulent local politics around the country and a sub-headline that reads, “The presidential race has nothing [on this].”

The Los Angeles Times, the Arizona Republic, the New York Times, and others have all contributed to the media attention on Quartzsite’s dramatic politics along with local media.

Citizens of Quartzsite wonder why it took over five months for the winning candidate to be seated as the town’s seventh mayor in four years, reports USA Today.

The Quartzsite Town Council caved in to a Writ of Mandamus issued by La Paz County Superior Court Judge Michael Burke and seated the Foster as Mayor. His oath of office was administered by Municipal Court Judge Lawrence C. King. Foster chaired the remainder of the meeting, which included voting Councilman Michael Jewitt in as Vice Mayor.

Major gem and mineral shows as well as vendors of raw and handcrafted merchandise peddle their wares to snowbirds, collectors, and enthusiasts, making Quartzsite the place to be the first two months of each year. Numerous food choices ensure you’ll never go hungry! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Major gem and mineral shows as well as vendors of raw and handcrafted merchandise peddle their wares to snowbirds, collectors, and enthusiasts, making Quartzsite the place to be the first two months of each year. Numerous food choices ensure you’ll never go hungry! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

By court order, the 70-year-old retired engineer was sworn in last week as mayor of Quartzsite, a dusty community of about 3,500 off Interstate 10 in southwest Arizona. He was elected in June, but the Town Council refused to seat him.

Why? Ostensibly because Foster owes the town $2,200 in legal fees.

Why? Because Foster sued unsuccessfully in 2011 to regain the mayor’s seat he’d won the previous year. He lost it in a recall election.

Why? Because he clashed with other local officials, including a police chief who arrested him for allegedly disruptive behavior at a public meeting, reports USA Today.

Why would anyone voluntarily get involved in local politics?

“I have a famous saying,” Foster replies.

“No president has ever done anything for me or done anything against me. But you should pay attention to choosing someone who can tell you whether you can build a shed in your yard.”

Details

Quartzsite 

Surprises await as you wander from vender to vendor. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Surprises await as you wander from vender to vendor. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Quartzsite is located in western Arizona, 20 miles east of the Colorado River on I-10.

In 1856, settler Charles Tyson built a fort at the present site of Quartzsite to protect his water supply. Fort Tyson soon became a stopover on the Ehrenburg-to-Prescott stagecoach route. It had become known as Tyson’s Wells by the time the stage stopped running and the town was abandoned.

Quartzsite has been a rockhounders’ paradise since the 1960s.

Today, it is also attracts over a million visitors each winter who converge on this small town of 1900 people in a wave of RVs during the months of January and February when over 2,000 vendors of rocks, gems, minerals, fossils, and everything else imaginable create one of the world’s largest open air flea markets.

Major gem and mineral shows as well as vendors of raw and handcrafted merchandise peddle their wares to snowbirds, collectors, and enthusiasts, making Quartzsite the place to be the first two months of each year.

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