School Board Recall Unlikely

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It appears highly unlikely a recall of two members of the Payson School board will appear on the November ballot.

Word of the recall's November demise came out of Gila County offices in Globe where Schools Superintendent Linda O'Dell and County Recorder Linda Haught-Ortega continue to sort through petitions turned in weeks ago by recall candidates Dave and Angela Lyons.

The two are attempting to unseat school board members Michael Horton and Charles Brown.

Julie Vasquez, administrative assistant to O'Dell, said a letter was sent to Angela Lyons telling her that she did not have sufficient signatures required by law to appear on the ballot as a regular candidate. Angela Lyons was running both as a regular candidate and a recall candidate.

The questioning of the recall signatures centers on some petitions turned in by circulators who signed the recall petitions before the voters' signatures were obtained, Haught-Ortega said.

When the circulators realized their mistake, they had the petitions notarized a second time but did not sign them again.

"That's more than a little irregular," Haught-Ortega said. "They did not understand the process."

County School Superintendent Linda O'Dell said about 900 potential signatures are being questioned because of the irregularity.

Haught-Ortega and O'Dell have requested an opinion from Deputy County Attorney Brian Chambers on whether signatures on recall petitions that were double-notarized are valid.

Chambers said he'd examine the issue and would render his decision sometime this week. He also expressed his doubts that a recall would appear on the November ballot because not enough time remained to have it included.

Haught-Ortega agreed. "It's complicated. I don't think it's going to make the November ballot, but could make it in the spring," she said.

Arizona Revised Statutes sets March as the next consolidated election date after the regular November election.

When Dave and Angela Lyons first turned over the recall petitions to the county superintendent they were checked by O'Dell's office to see if voters' physical addresses, names, residences and dates were correct.

The petitions then went to Haught-Ortega who has, by law, 10 days to verify the signatures. During the first few days of the county recorder's scrutiny, she noticed the irregularities and questioned whether the double-notarizations disqualified all the signatures of those recall petitions.

The recall effort began in the summer after Angela Lyons accused Brown and Horton of being unresponsive to the needs of teachers, students and parents. Particularly offensive in the controversy, Lyons said, was Horton's behavior at an April 10 board meeting during which several of former Julia Randall Elementary School Principal Peggy Miles supporters pleaded with the board to give the principal her job back.

"(Horton) talked on his cell phone the entire time," Lyons said in an earlier interview.

Horton has said he refuses to step down in case of a recall election. Brown said he would make that decision after the election was actually on the ballot.

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