No Election Needed If Voted Polled

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All of a sudden, a solution glimmers to the awful mess concerning the effort to bring the YMCA to Payson.

The council has been trying valiantly to honor the right of the town's citizens to challenge the council's own support for the long-term, low-cost lease of five acres of park land to the YMCA. The long-debated deal would save the town the cost of running Taylor Pool and bring to town a child and family-oriented gym and fitness center plus a year-round pool complex.

A group of skeptical citizens quickly gathered 1,300 signatures to challenge the council's action.

Now, that referendum has been thrown out by a Gila County Superior Court judge because the organizers messed up the paperwork and used a potentially misleading name.

The town is now casting about for ways to make the $40,000 special election happen anyway, out of deference to the views of those 1,300 petition signers. But that now involves a potentially expensive legal appeal and an even more expensive election.

But Mayor Kenny Evans has floated another possibility. Hire a professional pollster to find out what the registered voters think. The chief organizer of the referendum says that's a great idea -- all she wanted was to give the voters a voice.

We agree.

We urge the council to drop its appeal, cancel the special election and hire a polling firm -- in consultation with the citizens' group.

The Roundup would also support the effort by producing a special page of information on the pros and cons of the YMCA lease arrangement that would be widely distributed in the community before the pollsters went to work.

Ordinarily, we believe in letting the town councilors do their jobs. They were elected to make the tough decisions -- and should make those decisions without looking over their shoulders. But in this case, the town needs to know if those 1,300 petition signers represent the will of the community. And since the YMCA will have to raise $5.6 million -- much of it from the community -- it makes sense to first gauge voter support.

That is why we urge the council to act immediately to embrace this compromise.

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