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Paul Johnson, Jerry Stuart, and Cody Beeson recall, Yuma, Arizona (2012)

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An effort to recall Paul Johnson and Jerry Stuart from their positions on the Yuma, Arizona, city council was launched in February 2012.[1] The recall effort against Johnson and Stuart was abandoned in July 2012.[2] In May 2012, a separate recall campaign was launched against a third councilman, Cody Beeson.[3] The recall effort against Beeson was abandoned in September 2012.[4]

Johson and Stuart recall effort

A group called Recall Them All 2012 was behind the recall efforts. Mitchell Dunn, a member of the recall group, said the recall targets were not fulfilling their duties to their constituents. Dunn said, "The catalyst for this recall was the January 4 blind-side attack against the mayor at the city council meeting." Mayor Al Krieger is currently being investigated for allegedly violating open meeting laws and harassing city employees. Dunn was also concerned with the influence that City Administrator Greg Wilkinson wields over the city council. At the January 4 meeting, the council voted 7-0 to approve Wilkinson's contract. Under the terms of Wilkinson's contract, the city council does retain the authority to terminate his contract at any time, with or without cause.[5]

In response to the recall efforts, Stuart said, "The voters put me in office, and they can take me out of office. I am going to entirely leave it up to them to decide.”[5]

Rose Rosevear, executive director of the Yuma Chamber of Commerce, opposed the recall effort against Johnson and Stewart.[6]

Beeson recall effort

The recall campaign against Beeson was initiated by Robert Johnson, who charged Beeson with delays in returning city money. Beeson was advanced a total of $350 for travel expenses for city business in 2010, but he did not use the money for travel. Beeson said it was an oversight and that he has repaid the money. Beeson said he believes the recall against him was started by Mayor Al Krieger, who is upset that the city council has called for an investigation of his behavior.[3]

Path to the ballot

1,856 signatures would have been required to force a recall election.[5] June 1 was the submission deadline for recall petitions against Johnson and Stewart, while the submission deadline for recall petitions against Beeson was in September.[3] Recall organizer Robert Johnson dropped the recall bid against Beeson. Johnson said he still believed Beeson deserved to be recalled, but that he wanted to focus his attention on the legal battle surrounding the attempted recall of Johnson and Stuart.[4]

On June 1, recall supporters submitted recall petitions for Johnson and Stuart. Recall organizers said they collected over 2,000 signatures on both petitions. If the city found at least 1,856 signatures to be valid on each petition, a recall election would have been scheduled.[7]

Yuma County Recorder Robyn Stallworth-Pouquette was tasked with verifying the petitions. Her office received 2,060 signatures on Johnson's petition and 2,069 signatures on Stuart's petition on June 15. Stallworth-Pouquette had 60 days to verify the signatures.[8]

In July 2012, a review process found that there were insufficient signatures to move forward with a recall election against Johnson and Stuart. 1,784 signatures on Johnson's petition were valid, while 1,794 signatures on Stuart's petition were valid.[2]

Recall lawsuit

In August 2012, recall organizer Mitch Dunn filed suit against Yuma City Clerk Lynda Bushong and Yuma County Recorder Robyn Stallworth-Pouquette. Dunn alleges that the two city officials incorrectly handled the signature validation process. Dunn says that some of the signatures that were thrown out were in fact valid, and that a recall election should be have been scheduled.[9] On August 17, Judge John Nelson dismissed the lawsuit. Dunn says he will appeal his case to the Arizona Supreme Court.[10] In September 2012, the case was placed before the Arizona Court of Appeals.[4]

In December 2012, a three-judge panel of the Arizona Court of Appeals reversed a lower court's dismissal of the lawsuit. The panel wrote, "we reverse the dismissal with prejudice and remand this matter for a hearing to allow the court to determine whether any of the stricken signatures were struck contrary to the applicable statutes.” The city had 10 days to appeal the appellate court's decision to the Arizona Supreme Court.[11] In April 2013, the recall group's suit was dismissed, and Recall Them All 2012 officially disbanded.[12]

See also