It sounds like a bad joke, the kind
you might hear from political
pundits at this time of year, but it
could have a ring of sad truth for
the two candidates for constable in
the West Kyrene Justice Court:
What if you held an election and
the incumbent constable, and Jon
Levenson, the youthful
challenger, are campaigning at the
low end of the political pyramid, so
far below the contentious races for
Congress and governor that virtually
no one notices them.
There are no television
advertisements here. No campaign
committees. Just two men seeking a
The job of constable arguably is the
lowest-ranked elected position in
the hierarchy of political offices.
Most constable elections are
one-horse affairs, with a single
name on ballot and no one
particularly concerned about the
But there is a bona fide constable
race in the West Kyrene precinct,
which covers the portion of Tempe
west of Rural Road and stretches
north into Scottsdale all the way to
Camelback Road. It’s an awkwardly
shaped precinct to be made even more
so next year when the Kyrene Justice
Court is moved from south Tempe to
Today, however, the court is … do
you know where? For the record, it’s
at 8240 S. Kyrene Road, in one of
those industrial/office complexes
near the railroad tracks.
Few people understand the job of
constable. For example, the
constable does not report to the
Justice of the Peace as you might
expect. Instead, the constable,
being elected, is under the
jurisdiction of the Maricopa County
Board of Supervisors.
It is, you might say, a hands-off
kind of supervision; constables more
or less do their own thing.
Officially, according to the
county’s web site, the constable’s
job is to:
Execute writs of possession or restitution (legalese for evictions)
Serve orders of protection and orders prohibiting harassment
Serve criminal and civil summons and subpoenas
Maintain judicial security
Levy and return writs of execution (seize property to satisfy
Conduct constable sales of property levied on to satisfy judgments
The constable’s position is a
four-year term. The newly elected
constable of the Kyrene Justice
Court will be paid $60,000 a year
when he takes office in January.
Misner, 53 and a retired FBI special
agent, was appointed Kyrene
constable in March, when
then-Constable Don Calender was
named Justice of the Peace. Misner
spent more than 25 years in the FBI,
retiring in 2004.
Misner is a serious man who treats
the job of constable as a
law-enforcement position, not a
political one. He and some of the
other constables in Arizona say they
are trying to “increase the
professionalism” of the position,
which doesn’t require much of its
candidates other than being at least
18 years old.
“It’s an interesting job, a good
public service job,” Misner said.
“It’s not a job for somebody to
waltz in and take lightly.”
“It’s one of those below-the-radar,
below-the-horizon jobs that’s a
pretty important public service.”
His opponent in the Nov. 7 election
is Jon Levenson. Levenson
just turned 25 and is currently
working as a volunteer for the
Arizona Democratic Party answering
telephones and manning the front
desk in its downtown Phoenix office.
Levenson acknowledges that he does
not have a law-enforcement
background. He studied elementary
education at Mesa Community College,
focusing on special education, but
has not yet gotten a degree.
Levenson believes his background in
education -- “working with troubled
kids, some were making horrible
choices” – would serve him in the
position of constable.
He also has a background in physical
sports, including a brief stint as a
professional cage fighter, and works
part-time as a high school wrestling
“Being involved in the community is
probably the most important part of
this office,” Levenson said.
His goal, he said, would be to
provide more information and even
some advocacy to the people upon
whom the constable serves his writs
“Part of what I want to do is try to
help people who are being evicted …
help people get back on their feet.”
Neither man seems very comfortable
campaigning for the job.
Levenson said he has collected some campaign contributions and
printed up some flyers. He has a
campaign website –
www.jon4constable.com -- and
has added about 30 of his signs to
the tangle of campaign boards at
many local street corners. He’s also
taken every opportunity
to address groups like some of the
local Rotary Clubs.
“When you’re running for an office
this low profile, you have to make
your opportunities. People don’t
just come to you,” he said.
“You’ve got to meet the voters.
You’ve got to go door-to-door, pound
Misner said he is not soliciting
“Personally, I have a problem with
that,” he said.
Instead, he is funding his campaign
out of his own pocket. He has
printed several thousand campaign
flyers, but does not operate a
campaign website and has not
purchased signs to put on street
“I’m not a politician, I’m a cop,”
His last experiences as a politician
were as president of the senior
class in high school and president
of his college fraternity, he noted.
Still, Misner offers that his FBI
experience makes him “the
best-qualified candidate for
constable” in the entire state.
How low-profile is the race for
Kyrene constable? Here’s a clue.
Misner and Levenson say they’ve
never met. No opportunity, they say.
Both men agree the constable
position probably should be
appointed, not elected. Misner
points out that the constable’s
duties are to serve the court’s
writs and summons, not to make
Levenson said that although he
currently works for the Democratic
Party, he also volunteers for
Republican causes. The constable job
should not be a partisan position,
But there definitely should be a
choice on the ballot, Levenson said.
That’s one of the things that drew
him into the race, he said.
“We’re electing people who are
running unopposed, and I asked why
no one ran against them,” he said.
Why shouldn’t someone from the
community who’s been here for years
step up? At least to give people a