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Adam Chacon and Reynaldo Tavison recall, Clifton Unified School District, Arizona (2014)

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A vote to recall Adam Chacon and Reynaldo Tavison from their positions on the Clifton Unified School District school board in Clifton, Arizona was held on March 11, 2014.[1] Chacon and Tavison were recalled and replaced by Christine Hancock and Betty Swesey.[2][3]

Election results

Recall election, Adam Chacon
ApprovedaChristine Hancock 490 83.48%
DefeateddAdam Chacon 97 16.52%
Election results via: Eastern Arizona Courier (March 12, 2014)

Recall election, Reynaldo Tavison
ApprovedaBetty Swesey 385 64.38%
DefeateddRon Johnson 163 27.26%
DefeateddReynaldo Tavison 50 8.36%
Election results via: Eastern Arizona Courier (March 12, 2014)

Recall supporter arguments

The recall effort was led by Tammy McWhinney and Betty Swesey. Recall supporters were opposed to a major property tax increase approved by the board on July 15, 2013. This tax increase allowed for an approximately 70 percent increase in the district budget. The increase was supported by Chacon and Tavison but opposed by board member Robert Gomez, who resigned from the board shortly thereafter. McWhinney also called for the district, which has less than 50 students in K-12, to be dissolved, and for the Arizona State Legislature to repeal a law that allows school districts with less than 125 students to set budgets without public input or approval.[1][4]

Candidate responses

The Eastern Arizona Courier ran the following statements from four of the five candidates in the recall election on March 11, 2014:

Adam Chacon

Our budget last year was just over $400,000. Our budget for this year is just over $800,000. The majority of grades last year were Ds and Fs, and the majority for this year are As and Bs, while most schools will have a C average.

Bowie Districts' budget for this year is over $2 million. Our enrollment compares close to their district, but we have the potential to keep growing. Palo Verde District uses the same exact online curriculum as we do, they're in the top 10 of the state.

Our results for this year has flourished despite the nasty rumors and evil lies some of the few has spread about the children and staff, and which the staff is top notch and doing a tremendous job. Thank you!

One of the CHS students' has asked. "What do I do if the school is closed? This is the first school I have been successful at." Now that hurts and I have a question for those which do care, did our Lord Jesus spend his time with the people which had plenty or the people that needed help?

For those who can hear let them hear and vote for the candidates that are willing to help our communities children who which are already in place: also plan to expand for more children's success!

So I challenge you to help our youth, and fight the people that think they can insult our community who say. "That Clifton is dead and can never come back." Step Up and vote for Clifton’s heart beat to jump start again and show them Who we are and Where we came from!

—Adam Chacon candidate statement, (2014)[6]

Christine Hancock

I’m a mother, grandmother and paralegal. I’ve lived here in Greenlee County for 32 years.

Much has been said in letters to the editor by a school employee and the Clifton School superintendent that critics of the school’s operation are “using incorrect information” regarding the school’s functioning. Those critics are simply using statistics and information from the Arizona Department of Education and information made public at school board meetings.

The board and administration challenged members of the public to visit the school to see what is “actually” happening and how students are “thriving on the on-line classes”. I took them up on that offer – or challenge. When I visited the school I saw students talking, giggling, slouched, staring at unmoving screens and exuding boredom. Thriving? Not.

We were told by the board and administration the they had “to levy a small school adjustment tax”. (How small was your adjustment, taxpayer?) The “school has everything it needs to run effectively for years to come.” (At what andwhose cost?)

It has been said “The (elected) board members need to truly care about Clifton and its children.”

What, am I a heartless monster? I absolutely want what’s best for the children.

What about words never spoken (but should’ve been): We’ll teach K-6 and not raise taxes. I apologize for the tax. It’s just a one-time tax increase. Don’t hire a $3200 per month‘Business Manager’ (Hilyer). Let’s do hire a counselor who actually meets required qualifications. Day: “Thanks for the $25,000 pay raise!”

What we heard at the Feb. 3 candidate forum from the two sitting board members was “Get over it!” and “Move on!” I totally agree! The Clifton school you remember is gone. It cannot be resurrected or purchased at your neighbor’s expense.

My position as a school board candidate calls for clarity, common sense and accountability, please elect me.[5]

—Christine Hancock candidate statement, (2014)[6]

Ron Johnson

My name is Ron Johnson. I am the Chief Deputy Assessor for our county and I am running for the Clifton school board. I love this community and have always supported the Clifton schools, but, as a board member, I would make a few changes!

I have been greatly affected, monetarily, by two of the current board members' decision to maintain a k thru 12 curriculum when it was clear that the Clifton community was not, and still is not, able to support this program. I believe that an altruistic attitude is necessary when dealing with the youth of our community. We need a school board that is responsible to the students and our community.

First, I would analyze and assess the current situation, cut the fat,(what's not working), and maintain what does work OR close the program altogether. As a board member, I would diligently work to do what is right and make all things transparent in the process by keeping our community aware of what is going on while always complying with the Arizona State Statutes governing school systems.

It's time to change a bad situation into a productive, less expensive, good experience for our kids and community..whether it's here in Clifton OR not![5]

—Ron Johnson candidate statement, (2014)[6]

Betty Swesey

My name is Betty Freeman Swesey, I was born and raised in Clifton.

After attending the Truth in Taxation meeting in July, it was clear to me something had to be done. I decided to help with the recall and run for a seat on the school board. I have attended every school board meeting since July.

Any information we received has come directly from the administration or the state.

The board spent $93,000 for a computer program, $95,000 for two teachers to supervise and a tech $21.55 an hour to sit in the lab. There are programs available from the state for free.

The 100 day absence rate as reported by the Arizona Dept. of Education was 25.2% for the high school and 15% for the junior high, with this lack of attendance its hard to imagine these students are making A's & B's.

I agree the students of Clifton need a chance, they need a chance at a better education.

It’s time for some common sense. It’s time for some accountability.[5]

—Betty Swesey candidate statement, (2014)[6]

Reynaldo Tavison

Tavison did not submit a letter to the Eastern Arizona Courier by the deadline for candidate statements.

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing recall in Arizona

McWhinney began circulating non-binding recall petitions in August 2013 to gauge public sentiment over the matter. Official recall petitions were circulated after approval by local election officials. A total of 151 valid signatures were required on the separate petitions to recall Tavison and Chacon. Twenty-five petition pages with 292 valid signatures were logged for Tavison. Organizers submitted 25 petition pages with 274 valid signatures to recall Chacon.[2]

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