Coady grilled over direct election of mayor
By Curtis Riggs | January 7, 2009
Pearson retiring after 24 years
CAREFREE – Despite the town council meeting being overshadowed by the announced retirement of longtime Town Administrator Jon Pearson, council dissected a proposed ballot measure that would call for citizens to directly elect the mayor.
Pearson’s retirement is effective May 1, after serving 24 years serving as the only Town Administrator in the history of Carefree.
Mayor Wayne Fulcher honored his commitment to Councilman Bob Coady to place the issue of direct election of mayor on the town council agenda.
Coady raised the issue last fall after he learned a ballot measure, which calls for extending town council terms to four years, will be voted on March 10. Since then he has collected 330 petition signatures, more than the 255 signatures needed to get it on the ballot of the May 19 general election.
Tuesday’s agenda item was hotly debated by the council with six of the incumbents grilling Coady about why he is pushing the initiative.
Coady presented simple and basic reasoning to explain why he is pushing the proposed initiative.
“What is wrong with giving people the opportunity to vote for mayor like they do other elected officials?” he asked during the questioning by his council peers.
Fulcher responded with a question of his own.
“Where is the need, Carefree has been managed well for 25 years?” he asked about Coady’s motives. “Is there a need? Why is this being done?”
Councilman David Schwan raised a new objection to the proposed initiative on Tuesday. He said council-members do much of the work in Carefree that is done by staffs in other towns.
“One of the things that makes Carefree different is the contribution by town council-members,” he said while adding it has allowed Carefree to keep government small over the years.“One of the things that makes Carefree different is the contribution by town council-members,” he said, adding it has allowed Carefree to keep government small over the years.
Town Attorney Mike Wright said the initiative, if passed, could cause legal problems because it does not address the Arizona requirement of needing 50 percent (plus 1) of votes cast to win election. He said defending the initiative would raise the town’s legal bills.