AZ: Group turns in signatures for recall

Sierra Vista Herald/Review


BISBEE, AZ-- Cochise County Supervisor Paul Newman may be facing a recall election after a group challenging the District 2 supervisor turned in 2,369 signatures Tuesday.

The Cochise County Recorder's office must verify the signatures before a recall election can be called. To force an election, 2,092 signatures must be valid.

Walter G. Cleveland of Douglas initiated the recall in July. At the time, Cleveland said his effort started because Newman had turned on his constituents when he worked to stop the county from giving money to the Cattle Grower's Association. Newman says the recall effort is still because of that one act, an act he defends.

"As was well reported, the county attorney issued a legal opinion that giving the money was illegal," Newman said. "I took a principled stand and denied them the money. I was threatened at that time that unless I gave them the money, a recall would be filed. Obviously, they kept their word."

Newman also said the recall effort is groundless and a waste of taxpayer money. He estimates that holding a special election will cost the county $20,000.

"They have a right to seek a recall, but I think it's outrageous to spend this much of the taxpayer's money," Newman said. "The radical Republicans are joining with the ranchers to try to make the board a completely Republican board."

Cleveland also claimed Newman failed his constituents in Bisbee, Douglas and Tombstone because he has missed more meetings than any other supervisor, has more telephone expenditures and consistently fails to return phone calls from constituents.

Newman said the recall organizers are correct that he has missed more meetings and does use the phone more, but says he is simply doing his job.

"All of the absences were excused. I was either representing the county at the state Legislature or in Washington, D.C.," Newman said. "The rest of the absences were because I was hospitalized with kidney stones or I was taking care of my father, who has Alzheimer's."

Cochise County Elections Director Tom Schelling confirmed that his office had received the petitions. Schelling said that by state law, his office has 10 days to confirm that the signatures are in the right form. The petitions will then be passed to the Recorder's Office. State law says the recorder has 60 days to check if the signatures are from valid voters in District 2. If enough signatures are proven valid, an election will likely be called in May.

"I am not entirely certain there will be a recall election," Newman said. "They got just 10 percent more than they need, and there will be a strict look at all of them."

Cleveland was sick with pneumonia and was unavailable for comment this morning.


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