What’s the bare minimum magic number required to recall a TUSD board member?

There’s a lot of talk about possible recalls forming this year in TUSD for any and all current board members, so today we look at what is the bare minimum needed to accomplish this feat?

From the Pima County Superintendent’s Office, which is in charge of handling school board recall documents:

The process requires that a number of qualified electors residing within the school district demand the governing board member’s recall. Recall Signature requirements are based on 25% of the number of votes cast at the last preceding General Election for all the candidates for the office held by the officer, even if the officer was not elected at that election, divided by the number of offices that were being filled at the election (A.R.S. § 19–201).
A public officer must have held office for 6 months before a recall petition can be filed against him/her. The 6-month wait only applies to the first term of office if the governing board member is elected to more than one term (A.R.S. § 19–202).
Please contact the Pima County School Superintendent’s Office to obtain a recall packet before circulating any recall petitions.

In summary:

  1. Take the total number of votes cast, take 25% of that and then divide by 3 since there were 3 seats open in the last election (November 2016). Or simply divide by 12 to get the same result.
  2. To recall newly elected officers — in TUSD that would only apply to Rachael Sedgwick — you have to wait 6 months after they held office, which means you would have to wait until July at least.
  3. The other 4 board members in TUSD — Grijalva, Stegeman, Hicks and Foster — have been reelected and thus can be recalled immediately.

What is the magic number?

Screenshot of the official results of the November 2016 election, from http://tinyurl.com/zsqfkeu Page 78.

The total number of votes cast was 350,124. Dividing this result by 12 gives us:


You have 120 days to get the required signatures. Now keep in mind that you also need a healthy buffer since signatures will be thrown out. In this case, 40,000 is not an unreasonable amount of signatures to gather.

The bare minimum would require an average of 243 signatures each and every day for 4 months. For 40,000 you would need 333 signatures each and every day.

Let’s use the 300 numbers as a happy medium between the two as it is also a nice round number. Another way to look at this is that if there is a day that you don’t collect 300 signatures, say perhaps no signatures, then the next day you would need to collect 600 to stay on target. If you take just one work-week off, then by the weekend you are down 1,500 signatures, in addition to the 600 you need on that weekend just to stay on target, that’s over 2,000 signatures you need to “catch up” during that two-day weekend!

A quick Google search shows that paid signature gatherers can get paid about $3 per signature. This means you would need around $100,000 just to pay for the signatures. Even at $1 per signature, you are talking $30,000-$40,000. This does not include the attorney fees needed to defend yourself when signatures are challenged, plus all the money you need to raise for signs and advertisement, providing resources like food and water for volunteer signature gatherers, etc.

And then after all this, you have to run a candidate and hope the incumbent that you are recalling doesn’t have more people run to split the vote… that is if the candidate doesn’t resign first, thus allowing the Democrat Dustin Williams, the current Pima County Superintendent, the power to appoint a successor. With just one person given supreme power to decide the next board member, the ability for The Machine to influence comes into play and nothing really changes in the end.

Originally published at TSON News.

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