By Bud Foster – email
For the first time since 1976, a recall election against the Tucson City Council has gone forward.
Tucson developer Humberto Lopez has taken out affidavits of recall against Mayor Bob Walkup, Ward III council member Karin Uhlich and Ward I council member Regina Romero.
Full text of the affidavits can be found here. This wording will appear on the recall petitions and explains why each elected official is being recalled.
Petitions for the recall should begin circulating by Wednesday, January 13, 2009. Lopez then has 120 days to collect enough valid signatures to force a recall election. He will need about 14,000 to 18,000 depending on the ward.
Lopez says Tucson's business environment, and especially the failed Rio Nuevo project, caused him to institute the recall effort.
His organization is called "Take Back Tucson".
In filing the paperwork Lopez says, "I am worried that our children and grandchildren – the future engineers, scientists, doctors and businesspeople from the U of A – will not find the job opportunities they need to keep them here."
He says he had heard a lot of grumbling about an anti-business attitude in Tucson in the past few years and now, he believes, is the time to act.
"It's time to take this city back," Lopez says. "We need leaders who make tough decisions, who will fight for this city."
The 1976 recall election was successful in that the four council members targeted were all recalled.
Dave Hatfield, now editorial editor for Inside Tucson Business, was a reporter for the Arizona Daily Star then.
He was the first to report that some water rates may increase 400%, fueling community anger and the catalyst for the recall.
While there is no flashpoint today, he says, some things do remain.
"There's a lot of frustration out there," he says.
He says maybe this will settle the argument whether Tucson is anti-business or not and how the community feels about it.
"Maybe now's a good time to try it," he says of the recall.
"One recall in a lifetime is enough," says Jack Fitzgerald, who engineered the "76 recall.
He agrees Hatfield that some of the same feelings remain 34 years later.
"When you're totally frustrated and you going up against this government and not getting anywhere, I can see why people get involved," he says.
Whether this recall effort might be successful he's not willing to speculate.
"Times are different," he says."The water issue affected everybody."
Lopez believes, however, the community is united is this effort as well.
"Businesses are not the enemy; they are the economic engines that provide prosperity of the entire community," he says.
7831 N. Business Park Drive