Candidate positions on recall

By Bob Hembree
Posted 7/3/24

Members of Page City Council did not sign the Page Action Committee (PAC) petition or support the recall of David Auge and Mike Farrow. Yet, on June 26, they were put in the position of approving a …

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Candidate positions on recall


Members of Page City Council did not sign the Page Action Committee (PAC) petition or support the recall of David Auge and Mike Farrow. Yet, on June 26, they were put in the position of approving a procedural measure to get it on the ballot.

The resolution Council voted on states:

“That a City Special Recall Election be held on Tuesday, November 5, 2024, for the purpose of voting upon the recalls of Michael Farrow and David Auge, who hold the office of City Council member. Any candidate receiving a majority of all of the votes cast at the Special Recall Election for the applicable City Council seat will be declared elected.”

Auge and Farrow recused themselves from voting. Before the council vote, Vice Mayor John Kocjan asked, “What happens if we don’t pass?”

“Somebody could sue us to force us to set the election is essentially what would happen,” responded City Attorney Josh Smith.

Many who support the Page Action Committee’s efforts to halt Lake Powell Boulevard modifications did not sign or support the PAC’s councilor recall petition. Even candidates who supported the recall expressed uncertainty about their decisions when questioned. As reported by the Chronicle in the June 19 issue, Page residents who signed the recall petition were misled with false and misleading claims about city councilors. Petitions were circulated to recall all councilors except John Kocjan.

On June 12, 2024 Auge and Farrow, along with Kocjan, voted against awarding a contract that would modify Lake Powell Boulevard. Yet, in a questionable move, Auge and Farrow are the only ones PAC is currently attempting to recall. Auge’s and Farrow’s terms end November 2026.

Here are the opinions of each candidate for city council regarding the PAC recall petition initiated by candidate Debra Roundtree.

John Kocjan

I don't approve of the recall, and I don't think this is a good time to do it. There's probably some people that might-should-have been recalled, in my opinion, but I don't think it was done right. I don't think the initiative was done right either. I think the wording was wrong. It was like bringing a bazooka to a gunfight or knife fight where they wanted to totally hamper the city because of some mistakes they made, where you could never do anything on, basically on the main street again, as far as you couldn't even stripe it. So I think they overshot on that, and I think they overshot on the recall. They wanted to make a statement, I think, but to actually submit those recalls and recall, they're going to hamper the city really bad because there's so many good things that are in progress right now that are going to come to a screeching halt. So I see that as a negative and it’s certainly their prerogative to do what's according to law. I just don't think it was the right time or the right thing to do at this point.

Tom Preller

I'm not involved with this recall. I didn't sign a petition or anything. Recalling elected officials is a right that our voters have. I think that's something we all agree on. It's one of the checks and balances that's been written into our democracy. It's there to protect us. And if you feel that the councilors are acting against the interest of the people or they're incompetent, then by all means, we should be given the option to recall them. And if someone felt like that, then go for it. Recall. I don't necessarily feel that way, and that's why I didn't sign a petition. To the best of my knowledge, we've never seen a recall here in Page. No one seems to remember one. So I think this is the first one for us. So it's like a fire drill. It's a good time to figure out all the kinks and for everyone to learn the process. That being said, if you or an organization, your affiliate, initiates a recall, I expect you to stand by it and I expect you to own up to it. And I expect you not to sit here and say, I didn't do that and I don't want this recall. That's a sad, sad, weak stance. Own up to it. We don't want that sort of weak leadership.

Craig Simmons

It's written in the constitution. I am a constitutionalist, so I believe that things that are in our constitution should be looked at. Do I agree with the particular recall we have going on right now? I guess there's a double-edged sword there. A couple of councilors I think need to be picked off of the council. The other ones I don't agree with. I think it was a shotgun approach and I don't think it was correct. I really believe that we, when a recall is done, you need to, I guess, study each person you're going to recall. It'd be like me going to my business and firing all my employees. Now what do I do? I have nobody there to do business for me. I have nobody there to make money for me. Now I've got to figure out how to make this work, and I have nobody in place to do this. I can't do that. I think as a recall, it needs to be, like, an individually based thing, not the entire council. I just really struggle with the decision to go that route. You know, I say there's people on council that I don't agree with. Of course there's people that don't agree with me. That's OK. That's the American way. That's the way it is. So as far as the recall goes, I guess it's a yes and no answer for me. Part of it I agree with, part of it I don't.

Tina Beckwith

I have mixed feelings about that, quite honestly. I don't mean to be disrespectful to any of the council members. They put in their own time. They are volunteers and they put in a lot of time. So they are a great group of people, I mean, willing to serve our community. I think, though, that the message is that you didn't listen to us and we have to be able to say, you know, you didn't listen to 800 signatures or the first one was 1600 signatures. And I think that there has to be some consequences for council members and political parties that if they do not listen to the people that put them in office, then we have to take some kind of action to get their attention. And I believe that that has happened that with the recall election, they are sitting up and listening to us. So I think that all in all, it has been a positive thing. Again, like I said, I have mixed feelings about that. But it is the consequence of being on a city council and it's a possibility for anybody on the city council.

Richard Leightner

That's [a] citizen's right to do that, to requester [sic], to question, to challenge. I don't like it, but it is in the books. It's just a consequence of being an elected official. And it's not that they're listening now. Their vote had nothing to do with the PAC’s actions. And I know that for a fact. They just were concerned about budget and about the injunction that was tried for. There's better ways to do that. I'm not worried about it because this vote in July is going to tell me whether the many, many people that call me and email, that say stay the course, we want this to happen, that you don't hear from, that don't come out in public and raise h-e-double hockey sticks – we'll see if there's more of them than there is of those naysayers.

Amanda Hammond

I have mixed feelings on this one, too. I feel like the group of citizens who pushed for the recall tried a lot of other recourses first. I feel like they made this sort of a last-ditch effort after other recourses failed, and that's sad. I think that council had an opportunity to be responsible before we got to this recall situation, but we did get to the recall situation, and that's kind of what it's there for. At the end of the day, I chose not to sign the petition for the recall, mostly because I was more concerned about the administrative burden on the people of Page of having an entire council recalled at once and what that would do to normal processes and operating procedures. But, I mean, again, like other people have said, it is part of our system. It's when all else fails, that's where we go. And I think that it's sad that so many of our citizens felt like they had nowhere to go, and that recall was the only option. And I hope that by improving communication with the citizens going forward, we can avoid situations like this in the future.

Debra Roundtree

So we tried to just do an opinion poll to get the council to listen and they wouldn't choose to listen to 1600 signatures.

The mayor of Flagstaff told me, “Wow. I would have stopped. I would have listened.”

But when the mayor asked to stop and pause, he took the direction of the city manager instead of the citizens who were asking them just to pause. Then when we asked the council for them to choose to vote or ask to take action, they sat there and said nothing. All we were asking is for them to listen to all of the constituents. I will be the first one at the ribbon cutting ceremony if it doesn't pass when it goes to a vote. But they were only wanting to listen to the few who had emailed them when they had the opportunity to listen to every single citizen who would walk in and choose to vote. When I hired our representative legal counsel, he said, recall all of them. You've got enough steamrolling behind you last fall, and the council would have been recalled in March, and we would have been electing new people in March. I didn't want a recall. I do not want this recall.

My name is just on that piece of paper, and there is a very large group of people behind me, and the majority of them said, “We're going to recall.” And so I still didn't want to do it. And I'm the one that has to put my name down and I had to sign it. But I was reprimanded, and I took that reprimand from members of my board, and they were correct. They said, you're upset because the city council would not choose to listen to the constituents. You're doing the same thing, Debbie. You're not allowing the citizens of Page to speak.

So I said, if we recall them, we'll recall all of them.

We will not sit here as a committee and choose to recall one or two. The citizens will get that opportunity. We turn the names in.

It was the lawyer who denied John Kocjan and said we didn't have grounds for what we were looking for him not listening to the citizens, so I couldn't recall him. That's the reason why you are given the opportunity to recall six of the council members, and that was done in two weeks’ time.

Rick Yanke

Recall is the right of the citizens. I don't necessarily agree with it. I don't necessarily disagree with it. It will end up at the vote deciding whether it was proper or improper. And that even won't decide whether it was proper or improper. The vote will be the majority of people who come out to vote, whether that is 100% of the electorate or 25% of the electorate.