Amid public allegations from an outspoken Page citizen that many of the city’s documented oaths of office break state law, city officials announced yesterday they would be amending the official loyalty oaths for the entire Page City Council. All seven councilmembers, including Mayor Bill Diak, will have their oaths administered again tonight at city hall.
The Chronicle confirmed on Tuesday that all classified city employees, including the city manager and city attorney, as well as all city advisory board members were asked to sign new oaths as well.
In Arizona, a loyalty oath is required of officers and employees of all government agencies. Per Arizona statute, the oath swears or affirms an individual will support the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution and laws of the state of Arizona, and defend the U.S. and Arizona against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and states that they will faithfully and impartially discharge the duties of their office.
Arleen Miller, a resident of Page since 1972, has for several years taken issue with added wording in oaths signed by elected Page officials and classified positions. She cites the inclusion of oath takers “[upholding] the ordinances of Page” alongside the state-sanctioned wording as unconstitutional and therefore illegal.
Miller said she believes the inclusion of “upholding the ordinances of Page” sets a slippery precedent for an overreaching government and the implementation of ordinances that limit the rights of the average Page citizen.
“There is a history of this kind of thing happening. I don’t know how they can swear to defend and uphold the constitution, and then in the next breath commit to shove city ordinances down our throats,” she added.
Page City Clerk Kim Larson said her records show the city’s use of the line “upholding the ordinances of Page” in its loyalty oaths likely goes further back than 30 years, adding that it has been used for councilmembers, advisory board members and classified employees since at least 1987.
Larson said that since she’s been working as the city clerk, she’s administered the oath to many city employees and officials. She said that neither she nor city staff had reason to question its veracity due to how long it has been on the books.
Miller has also criticized the city for not officially notarizing many of the official oaths, which is a requirement by the Arizona Secretary of State. After filing a formal complaint regarding the legality of the oaths with the Arizona Attorney General’s office in 2016, Miller said she has not received any word on a ruling.
The Chronicle attempted to reach out to the Arizona Attorney General on Tuesday afternoon, but was told they were unable to comment.
The city also provided a statement regarding the oaths. In an email to the Chronicle, City Manager Crystal Dyches wrote, “The oath of office used by the city clerk dating back more than 30 years also included language referencing the ordinances of the City of Page. The discrepancy was recently brought to the city’s attention and the city clerk is in the process of re-administering the oath as needed.”