SAFFORD — The saying goes that a thousand-mile journey starts with a single step. So does the process of recalling elected officials, and the first step was taken this week.
On Tuesday, an application for a recall petition against Graham County Clerk of the Superior Court Cindy Woodman was filed with the county’s Election Department.
Since her election in November 2018 as the Republican candidate, Woodman’s tenure has seen some controversy. That includes a Superior Court finding of evidence mishandling, in which she was said to be “derelict in her duties,” and a high turnover rate in the Clerk’s Office, described by one former employee as a “toxic” environment.
Recall organizers cited “conduct unbecoming of an elected official” as grounds for the application, based on the ruling of mishandled evidence, the “unprecedented” turnover, “continued alienation of Clerk’s Office staff and other colleagues” and “lack of basic knowledge of court procedures,” among other charges.
When reached out for comment on the effort to recall her, Woodman said, “I don’t know that I will be fairly represented in any response made to the Eastern Arizona Courier.”
Graham County Republican Party Chairman John Duane Rhodes defended Woodman, saying the petition was an attempt to go against the voters’ choice and “get a second bite at the apple.” Rhodes said that, contrary to creating a hostile work environment, Woodman entered one in the Clerk’s Office.
“There are some who don’t like change,” he said.
Rhodes added that he believed Woodman had done a good job despite a lack of training for her position from the county.
Recall organizers now have 120 days to collect at least 2,698 valid signatures of registered voters, which must be turned in to the Election Department by Jan. 1, 2020. If enough signatures are collected, they must be verified by the Election Department and Voter Registration. Once they are verified, the county Election Officer will file the recall petition. The official filing date would be March 18, 2020.
Upon filing of a recall petition, the official being recalled has the option to resign. If the official does not, an election will be ordered and candidates may file.
“We’ll have to see what happens,” Rhodes said. “If they get their signatures, we’ll have to file. Should she choose to, Cindy will run again and the (Republican) Party will support her.”
David Bell contributed to this report