WILL GOODYEAR'S MAYOR AND COUNCIL BE FORCED TO VOTE TO CUT THEIR TERMS? AND THE BIGGER QUESTION IS...
Opinion Piece by Jen Barber
Status quo, you know, is Latin for 'the mess we're in'. ~Ronald Reagan
What are the odds Goodyear's Mayor and Council will be forced to vote to reduce their terms in office?
Or... what are the odds they'll vote to add extra time to extend their terms?
And how many laws will need to be changed to do so?
It occurred to me in the middle of the night that this might be a real-case scenario in our All-America City.
In the "Goodyear Gold Mine" blog from June 9th, I casually mentioned former Council candidate Sara Gilligan went to Council to speak in favor of moving Goodyear's elections to even-numbered years. I joked about grabbing the popcorn to sit back and watch as Goodyear has avoided this issue for several years. Now that a resident has come forth, it's not so funny. They've gotta respond.
The concern: Currently, Goodyear's City Charter mandates elections be held in the spring of odd-numbered years. Doing so mandates tax payers fork out thousands of dollars to hold independent elections as the State's elections are in the fall of even-numbered years.
We reviewed the tape. Gilligan specifically asked Council to look into what it would take to align Goodyear's election with the State election cycle.
Gilligan argued paying roughly $180,000 for Goodyear's Spring Primary and General elections could be avoided by shifting the City election to coincide with the State's election cycle.
West Valley Families was further thrown into the mix on this issue when Gilligan tagged us in a post yesterday asking for more information. Gilligan posted she received a reply from the Goodyear City Clerk stating the election cycle is stated in the City Charter. But, Gilligan asked us if we had any further info. So, we did our own research.
Well, the City Clerk is right. As we pointed out in our "Goodyear Election Cycle Concerns" blog, "Goodyear's City Charter ARTICLE IX. SECTION 5. states 'Primary elections shall be held on the second Tuesday in March of odd-number years preceding the General election on the third Tuesday in May of odd-number years.'"
What I assume Gilligan wants to know is why Council hasn't made an effort to change this law.
GOODYEAR LOOKING AT THE OPTIONS
I was blown away last night when I was told the City is taking this issue to a Council worksession in August. We were first to report it on our Facebook page here.
Shifting Goodyear's election cycle has come up numerous times, as I've reported this week.
2011: 'Goodyear Votes' grassroots organization called for the change in Goodyear's voting cycle.
2012: Goodyear watched patiently as Phoenix and Tucson challenged a new State law requiring cities to have their elections only in even-numbered years.
2014: The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled 17 Charter Cities, (including cities like Goodyear), can hold elections when they want.
2017: Resident Sara Gilligan formally asks Goodyear City Council to review Goodyear's election cycle.
PROS, CONS, AND THE EGO
Some elected public servants feel the independent spring election avoids "voter fatigue." Let's turn to Tucson for a closer look at this argument. Arizona Capitol Times reported Tucson City Attorney Mike Rankin, who failed to urge then-Governor Jan Brewer to veto the election law, "pointed out that state law requires federal and state races to be placed first on the ballot. 'Rankin said forcing consolidated elections would result in “the local issues being on Page 20 before anybody gets to them.” And he said pushing those local races the bottom would result in voters losing interest — and not finishing the ballot — before they get to those local races.'"
For elected politicians, whose terms end in odd-numbered years, their terms would either have to end earlier... or be extended further. And what sitting Council member would vote to end his or her term early?
THE $64,000 QUESTION... OR $180,000 CONSEQUENCE...
If Goodyear's Mayor and Council were forced to vote on this issue, would any of them have a conflict of interest?
We were told the process for Goodyear City Staff and Council to review the election cycle would "be complete prior to the next election scheduled in 2019."
STOP THE PRESSES!
Mayor Georgia Lord and Council members Pizzillo, Campbell, and Hampton were just voted in spring of 2017. Their terms end 2021. That's an odd-numbered year.
A vote to align Goodyear's election with the State election cycle sooner rather than later could, potentially, require the Council to vote to terminate these four seats early.
Council, also could vote whether to "extend" the terms to 2022. You read that right. They might choose to add more time to their terms.
1. City Charter states "The Mayor shall be elected for a term of four years but shall not serve more than two consecutive four-year terms."
Georgia Lord was just elected to her second four-year term. Extending her term would require changing this Charter's ordinance, as well.
Don't forget, Mayor Lord was elected in 2011 to fill a two-year unexpired term when then-Mayor Cavanaugh unexpectedly stepped down. So, she's already served two additional years.
2. No person shall be eligible to serve in the office of Council member for more than three (3) consecutive terms, but there shall be no limit on the number of non-consecutive terms.
Council members Pizzillo and Campbell were just elected to their third four-year terms. Extending their terms would require changing this law in the City Charter, too.
3. If the effort is made to extend these terms, you've got the Mayor and three council members who'd have their seats affected by the vote... and, in my humble opinion, could be considered a conflict of interest.
I mean, what politician - who's spent thousands of dollars campaigning to get the seat in the first place - would want a shorter term? Wouldn't one's ego want to "extend" the term? Just a hypothetical question.
To boot; Having four members of the Council recuse themselves from such vote would mean there's not a quorum. No quorum = no vote.
WHAT'S THE ALTERNATIVE?
Shortening or extending the length of these terms of Mayor Lord and Council members Pizzillo, Campbell, and Hampton is only one scenario.
The Council could also choose to:
*Ummm... Goodyear has a problem. While confirming Council members' terms, I found a major error on Wally Campbells' profile.
JEN'S TWO CENTS
Mayor Georgia Lord is a very popular mayor. And for good reason. She's a good leader and devotes all of her energy into helping Goodyear. She presents well and it shows. I truly wouldn't be surprised if she gets little resistance from the possibility of her term being extended. The City has a theory that when people aren't complaining... they must be happy. It's been a long time since this City has witnessed a real stir.
I do find this additional coincidence interesting. Just moments before Sara Gilligan took the podium to express her thoughts on the election cycle, Mayor Lord was discussing Council procedure on "Comments from the Floor". She said...
"But as long as I’m the mayor, and I will be that for four years more, we will do the call like we’ve all done.” Mayor Georgia Lord, June 5, 2017
Did Mayor Lord know what Gilligan was going to propose? Is she saying she won't go down without a fight? Or was this purely a coincidence?
I'd also like to add my thoughts on comments made by a west Valley newspaper here.
The writer states, "We hounded the city clerk for a couple of days..."
The #1 rule about government is that nothing happens quickly. The City Clerk most likely had to run all of this up the totem pole and have it settle again before issuing any statements. I know from personal knowledge that the clerk's office is a professional, well-run, well-oiled machine and has been since I first was introduced to it in 2008. "Hounding" the city clerk isn't going to get this going quicker.
As I stated yesterday, we've been told the City Council and City Staff will review this issue at its August 21st worksession. This process could take nearly two years. We'll be watching.
And for what it's worth... I don't have a horse in this race. Just curious to see what the City chooses to do.
Earlier this week, we responded to a resident who wanted to know why Goodyear elections are opposite of State elections. The concerns are low voter turnout and high expense to run these elections independent of others.
We have just confirmed the Goodyear City Council and City Staff will review Goodyear's elections in a worksession on August 21 and "process will be complete prior to the next election scheduled in 2019."
We've got it on our calendar.
TAKE A LOOK AT OUR BLOGS ON THIS ISSUE
"GOODYEAR ELECTION CYCLE CONCERNS" - LINK
"GOODYEAR GOLD MINE": LINK
"GOODYEAR GOLD MINE" REACTION: LINK
SCROLL DOWN TO VOTE: SHOULD GOODYEAR CHANGE ITS ELECTION CYCLE? YES OR NO?
Opinion Piece by Jen Barber
Today we were tagged in a Facebook post by Gilligan for Goodyear. As you may recall, we mentioned former Goodyear City Council candidate Sara Gilligan went to Council on June 5th speaking in favor of moving City elections to the same election cycle as the State of Arizona.
Moving Goodyear's election is estimated to cut cost to tax payers and increase voter participation.
Arizona's elections are held in the fall of even-numbered years. Goodyear's are held in the spring of odd-numbered years. Concerns regarding the waste of tax payer dollars to keep this All-America City's election off the State's election schedule has been discussed at length over the years. And voter turnout and participation is dismal. In 2011, the Goodyear Votes grassroots group pushed for Goodyear to move its election cycle to no avail.
Goodyear's City Charter ARTICLE IX. SECTION 5. states "Primary elections shall be held on the second Tuesday in March of odd-number years preceding the General election on the third Tuesday in May of odd-number years."
IMPORTANCE OF HISTORY
This debate is not new.
In 2012, Gov. Jan Brewer signed House Bill 2826 requiring municipalities, counties, and school districts hold primary elections in August and general/runoff elections in November of even-numbered years. Find out more here.
As reported in the Kingman DailyMiner here:
The League of Arizona Cities and Towns suggested 76 of 91 towns and cities in Arizona would have had to move their election dates.
Check out this presentation posted online and attributed to Maricopa County Elections Department.
"Consolidated Elections" explains the challenged and amended A.R.S. State Statute 16-204. Essentially, Charter Cities like Goodyear can still choose when to hold elections.
HOW TO CHANGE A GOODYEAR CITY ORDINANCE
The Goodyear City Charter states Council can act by "motion, resolution or ordinance." A majority vote of council members is required for a motion, resolution or ordinance to pass. You can read more under ARTICLE VII.
But, if Council is unwilling to do so....
Residents can take advantage of an initiative option to influence public policy. It's shown in Goodyear's City Charter ARTICLE X.
Check out this handy guide on Initiatives an Referenda from Secretary of State Michele Reagan.
We contacted League of Arizona Cities and Towns to find out the process for starting this initiative in Goodyear. Here's what we were told.
Oddly enough, we just came across this article regarding Arizona's Governor Doug Ducey "approved a bill that makes it easier to keep citizen initiatives off the ballot by tightening the legal standard proponents must meet. He said in a statement that voter-approved laws allow substantial and permanent changes to state law." Challenges to the new law abound.
This is the law. If the voters of Goodyear truly want to change the election cycle, someone will need to step up to get the process started. It's going to take time and money. And I'm quite sure it won't be as easy as it sounds in description above. (Just getting enough signatures to be placed on the ballot as a candidate is a lot of work.) The State's guide to Initiatives and Referenda show statewide petitions require formation of a committee, an established bank account, statement of organization, chairmen, etc. I'm not sure what the requirement is for Goodyear as we have not heard back from Goodyear or Maricopa at the time of publication.
Goodyear Votes, a grassroots group, had a lot of momentum and media coverage in 2011. (Its Facebook page appears to have been edited since we visited it last week.) Their effort failed - or really never took off. So, if changing Goodyear's election is going to be a successful venture... it needs to be well organized from the get go.
VOTE NOW - DO YOU SUPPORT GOODYEAR'S ELECTION CYCLE BEING MOVED TO THE STATE ELECTION CYCLE TO SAVE TAX PAYER MONEY AND INCREASE VOTER TURNOUT?
We've had some reaction to our Goodyear Gold Mine blog piece from Friday. Two improvement projects totaling $240,000 have come under scrutiny.
Two readers raised concerns about the library improvement project and the cost of the concrete design. We went to take a closer look.
The City of Goodyear website shows the $145,000 library improvement project is 99% complete.
The Goodyear Library posted these "before" pictures on May 1, 2017.
Today, we snapped these almost "after" photos.
The library tells us the concrete has to "cure" and it will be stamped in around the end of the month. When completed, we think the project will be 100% completed.
The project adds two trees which will need water and staff resources for upkeep.
Opinion Piece by Jen Barber, Goodyear Resident
No doubt Goodyear is growing quickly. It seems mid-Goodyear is the center of a lot of action this week. Mid-Goodyear has seen land sales well over appraisal price and we've taken a look at taxpayer dollars being spent here.
HYBRID LEASED NEW-HOME OPTIONS COMING TO GOODYEAR
LET'S GO FOR A WALK DOWN VAN BUREN...
GOODYEAR MUNICIPAL COMPLEX LAND FOR LEASE OR SALE?
Monday, June 5, 2017
During a Goodyear City Council Special meeting, Council convened into a private, Executive Session to "discuss leasing or selling City-owned real estate." Council also was to "discuss the City's position on negotiations for the lease of portions of GMC" or - what we can guess - is the Goodyear Municipal Complex. We say "guess" because the discussions are not made public and we were unable to confirm from the City if "GMC" is the GMC we know to be the Goodyear Municipal Complex. (If there's another GMC in Goodyear we've overlooked, please contact us.)
However, if the City is looking to sell or lease portions of the land in the Goodyear Municipal Complex, it could be quite interesting. From what we understand, the City of Goodyear agreed to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars OVER the appraisal price of the land which we know as the Goodyear Municipal Complex just two years ago.
Let's back up a minute.
In December 2014, Goodyear City Council unanimously voted to approve the purchase of approximately 7 acres of property at $4 per square foot. We went back through City records and found the following discussion and staff notes on this.
Goodyear's municipal complex is the area near Van Buren Street and Bullard Avenue. It's home to the Goodyear Library, Police Department, 911 Center, Court, Fire Department, etc.
The 911 Center property was purchased in late 2012. This additional 7 acres - approved in December 2014 - was needed to build the new, and quite frankly much needed, police department.
At the December 2014 Council Meeting, the City said it evaluated a number of sites and scored the properties against the needs and wants of the City being…
This team who chose this property also kept the Council’s priorities in mind when selecting this property. The criteria included
This location scored highest based on its transportation corridors and connectivity north and south in the city.
Linda Beals, the Real Estate Coordinator for the City of Goodyear said they went back and forth in negotiations several times with the seller, “The bottom line was, what we were able to come up with, was a negotiated sales price of $4 a square foot.” Beals says the sales price was within the range of sales within the City. The closing costs were estimated at another $10-15,000.
Beals stated the huge savings on this property was the infrastructure. Some of it had already been brought in by surrounding developments.
COUNCIL DISCUSSION ON THE PURCHASE PRICE
The appraisal was $3.00 per square foot with a total amount of $915,000. And we negotiated a $4.00 per square foot?” ~Councilmember Campbell
Councilmember Stipp said - at the time in 2014 - they were hearing from businesses that the rents are higher in Goodyear. “But, so is the quality of the community and quality of the centers they buy and etc.”
Mayor Lord said it "makes sense" to acquire this land adjacent to existing city properties.
"It actually is at the request of our citizens. When we did the City Center plans, the residents were very clear that they did not want the police department or any other facility near the City Hall. They wanted them in their own complex. And although we would all like to see it at a lesser price, but that’s market, and you have to say, “Hooray for Goodyear” that we are at market because that’s the market that’s attracting homes and businesses," comments Mayor Lord.
THE GOODYEAR "GOLD MINE"
Given the developments this week, it seems the seller was right. The location is a "gold mine" and expansion of the area is happening quickly.
We do not know why the City wants to potentially sell this land. Of course, would the City get its money back on this land? We'd assume so... giving the NexMetro sale went for $4.19 per square foot. But, it's anyone's guess. And... that's assuming "GMC" under discussion is the Goodyear Municipal Complex. (For clarity, we are only guessing Monday's discussion of GMC was in regards to the Goodyear Municipal Complex. Goodyear would not confirm this.)
The notice shows Goodyear intends to raise its Primary Property Taxes by 2%.
THIS PROPOSED INCREASE IS EXCLUSIVE OF INCREASED PRIMARY PROPERTY TAXES RECEIVED FROM NEW CONSTRUCTION. THE INCREASE IS ALSO EXCLUSIVE OF ANY CHANGES THAT MAY OCCUR FROM PROPERTY TAX LEVIES FOR VOTER APPROVED BONDED INDEBTEDNESS OR BUDGET AND TAX OVERRIDES. ~City of Goodyear
JEN'S TWO CENTS
This spring, voters re-elected Mayor Lord. Councilmembers Pizzillo and Campbell are going into their 3rd four-year terms. And Brannon Hampton was elected in a runoff to fill outgoing Councilmember Sharolyn Hohman's seat. The inauguration is Monday, June 12th. We wish them all the best.
We should note, Hampton's challenger Sara Gilligan went to Council on June 5th speaking in favor of moving City elections to the same election cycle as the State of Arizona. Those are held in the fall of even numbered years. This has been discussed at length in the City of Goodyear over the years. In 2011, the Goodyear Votes grassroots group pushed for Goodyear to move its election cycle to no avail. I have no horse in this race. But, I will say, running for Council as a candidate can be outrageously expensive. (We found candidates in the spring election for Goodyear City Council spent anywhere from $7,000 to $14,000. That's for a job that only pays $9,2000 a year.) And the cost to the taxpayers for spring elections is questionable. So, I'll grab my popcorn and wait for the City's response on Gilligan's request.
An attractive city needs landscape improvements, art, and all those pretty things. But, $240,000 for library and City Hall hardscape and landscaping improvements seems high. With the dire need for fire stations in Goodyear, I'd like to see the City reserve more funds to get these projects completed first. The Goodyear Capital Improvement Plan shows funding for the much needed station in west Goodyear not kicking in till 2021-22. Parks are nice. But, I'd like to see more priority for funding safety first. Just my two cents.
For some historical reading regarding the land around the Goodyear Ballpark: Link
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jennifer Barber is a Goodyear resident resident of almost 20 years and a retired broadcast news journalist. Involved in various nonprofit and city organizations since 2008, Barber has a unique view of what's happening in the West Valley of Arizona.