Former Quartzsite Mayor Ed Foster died the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 7. Quartzsite Police Chief Will Ponce said Foster had been ill for some time and had driven himself to La Paz Regional Hospital in Parker, where he was admitted.
According to published reports, Foster’s family stated he died from complications from the coronavirus, COVID-19.
Foster was Mayor in the early 2010s, an era of political turmoil in Quartzsite.
He first became known in 2009, becoming an outspoken critic of the Town administration. He was riding a wave of discontent with how the Town was being run.
Foster was elected Mayor in May 2010. His relationship with other council members and the Town administration was contentious from the beginning. The State Ombudsman’s office found the Town violated open records laws by denying records requests from Foster. The Council censured Foster in September 2010, saying he went beyond the scope of his office.
Council meetings became raucous and contentious. They hit a low point on June 28, 2011, when activist Jennifer Jones was forcefully removed from the podium during Call to the Public. Two council members had called for her to be removed because she allegedly violated the rules for Call to the Public. They “voted” to have her removed over Foster’s objections.
The Arizona Attorney General’s Office investigated the matter and decided not to file charges against three Quartzsite Police Officers, including then-Chief Jeff Gilbert, as there was not enough evidence for a conviction. Statements from council members indicated the situation was so chaotic, they didn’t know a “vote” had been taken to remove Jones.
The Attorney General’s Office did find the Town broke the Open Meeting Law by removing Jones from the podium and by closing and locking the doors to Town Hall for an “emergency” council meeting July 10.
This was also at a time when a group of Quartzsite Police Officers stated revolt against Gilbert. They became known as the “Quartzsite 10.” The Oath Keepers held a rally in Quartzsite in support of the officers, Foster and Jones.
Foster was the subject of a recall election in August 2011. He placed second to former Council Member Jose Lizarraga. Jones sued to challenge the results, saying Lizarraga didn’t post a bond with the Town. She wanted to have Foster declared the winner of the election.
La Paz County Superior Court Judge Michael Burke told Jones she was quoting Arizona law on regular elections. Special elections and recalls were under a different statute. He stated the target of a recall election cannot remain in that office if he or she did not have the most number of votes in that election. He said someone could not be recalled and retained in the same election.
Foster ran for Mayor again in 2012, and defeated Jerry Lukkasson in the election held May 15, 401 voted to 315. However, on June 4, the Town Council declared him ineligible for elected office in the town because he still owed a court settlement to the Town. The Town Code stated that individuals who owed money to the Town could not hold elected office.
Months of legal wrangling followed. Foster’s Attorney, Julie La Benz, argued in court that the town ordinance was unconstitutional as it went beyond the state’s qualifications for public office.
On Oct. 15, 2012, La Paz County Superior Court Judge Michael Burke ruled in Foster’s favor. He said the town’s ordinance went beyond the state’s qualifications, and, even if it didn’t, the type of funds Foster owed were not covered in the ordinance.
Foster was seated as Mayor at the Oct. 23, 2012 Town Council meeting. As he took his seat on the dais, he jokingly remarked, “Let’s see if I remember how to do this.”
Foster returned to private life following the 2016 election. He lost a bid for reelection, placing fourth among the candidates in the primary election. Quartzsite’s current Mayor, Norm Simpson, went on to win the general election.
Following his departure from office, Foster remained in the Quartzsite area. He told the Pioneer in 2019 he was keeping a “very low profile.”
As of press time, arrangements for services are pending.