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.

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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 number 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.

Also published on Medium.

5 comments on “What’s the bare minimum magic number required to recall a TUSD board member?
  1. If my memory does not fail me, this law was amended to the present status after the successful recall of Russell Pearce in Maricopa Co. It was designed to make it nearly impossible to recall an elected official. It has worked.

  2. Two things — the Superintendent has the ability to call for a special election in lieu of an appointment. And second, the prior comment is incorrect. The process and the # of signatures requirements were the same used to recall Mr. Pearce.

  3. I ran the recall against the board majority in 2015, there are just a few more factors to consider. Ricky Hernandez will be in charge of the recalls, Adelitas good friend, he won’t make it easy. The media will be for the candidates so be ready to be attacked. The Grijalva machine will harrass and threaten you, I had death threats , followed, and my home was watched. If the board doesn’t fire Sanchez , or deal with issues like Shannon Roberts, they need to be recalled, just be ready, get alot of volunteers

  4. Thanks, three sonorans, for laying out what a serious and expensive undertaking this would be: I have found reason to cite and share this article repeatedly this morning! I would LOVE to see at least one, if not two members off of the Board, but you know what? I won’t be focusing on a recall, I’ll be focusing on whats good for the students. I have had it with the adults in TUSD bickering about each other and placing focus on anything, ANYTHING but the students. I know that you yourself were in charge of a recall effort long ago but I think the best way to hold this or any Board responsible is to keep showing up, keep making comments, keep watching their work and making sure the focus is where it needs to be. We should all be able to see the price of assuming that everything is golden and that we can relax–those who DID relax and just started taking HTs Kool Aid as truth were outspoken last night, despite the basic lies their campaign was built on. I invite all who are looking to pull off recalls to ALSO work on making sure there is a serious PUBLIC and PARENTAL component of the superintendent selection process that is as free of the kind of dog and pony show drama that we have seen recently as possible.

    • You are right Betts. I don’t see much success in any recalls, although I truely believe Grijalva and Foster need to go. The best we can do is continue to shed light on these two and watch them scurry. The same needs to be done with the others if they are not acting in the children’s best interest.

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