Vol. 15 Issue No. 5 | February 4 – February 10, 2009

Coady’s direct election of mayor initiative makes ballot

By Curtis Riggs | February 4, 2009

Carefree voters to decide May 19

CAREFREE – Town Councilman Bob Coady was notified on Tuesday his initiative calling for direct election of the mayor will be on the May 19 general election ballot.

Carefree Town Clerk Betsy Wise informed the five-term councilman his initiative “had at least 105 percent of the minimum of the required signatures” after Maricopa County Election officials did a sampling of the 31 signature pages submitted, which contained the signatures of 399 registered Carefree voters. Only one signature of the 20 signature random sample was ruled invalid.

Coady submitted his initiative petitions to Wise on Jan. 16.

Only 255 valid signatures were needed to have the initiative allowing Carefree voters to chose their mayor, instead of the mayor being selected by seven town council members, placed on the ballot. The Carefree Town Council has chosen the mayor since Carefree was incorporated in 1984.

Coady faced stiff opposition from the rest of council in getting the initiative on the ballot. He said he would not have pursued the initiative if Mayor Wayne Fulcher had placed the matter on a town council agenda late last year, after making a number of requests.

Fulcher finally put the item on the Jan. 6 council agenda. At that meeting the rest of the council took turns criticizing Coady for his efforts. The criticism ranged from “if it isn’t broken don’t fix it” to problems with the initiative stating the candidate receiving the most votes for mayor would be elected. The claim was the initiative would lower the threshold for election for mayor below the requirement for council members because the initiative does not address the 50 percent plus 1 rule in Arizona. Coady, however, took the wording for his initiative right out of Arizona Revised Statutes, which states a community can call for direct election of the mayor.

Fulcher explained his delay in placing the matter on the agenda for council discussion by saying “he wanted to wait for the appropriate time.”

After hearing his initiative made the ballot on Tuesday, Coady said, “It’s satisfying to realize the voices of Carefree citizens will eventually be heard.”

Fulcher said he “hopes our citizens read the initiative carefully and vote no to elect the mayor with a minority vote.”