Cindy Woodman

The Graham County Board of Supervisors has approved a recall election order against Clerk of he Superior Court Cindy Woodman, shown here at far left taking her oath of office.

SAFFORD — The signatures needed to hold a recall election against Graham County Clerk of the Superior Court Cindy Woodman have been confirmed, and now so has the election date.

On Monday morning, Feb. 10, the Graham County Board of Supervisors held a special meeting regarding an order for the election and funds to cover its cost.

The election will take place Tuesday, May 19. Woodman, who chose not to resign after being given that option, will appear on the ballot. The ballot will also include a rebuttal statement that Woodman submitted.

The board approved the order, as well as the transfer of $35,000 in funds from contingency to the Elections Department and/or County Recorder to cover the cost of the election. Supervisor Jim Palmer said during the hearing that the election should cost less than $35,000, but that amount will ensure sufficient funding.

Court Clerk nomination petitions may be obtained from the Graham County Elections Department, located in the County General Services Building at 921 W. Thatcher Blvd. Petitions may be filed from Feb. 19 through March 23.

The recall effort, launched last September, cited “conduct unbecoming of an elected official,” based on a July 2019 Graham County Superior Court finding that Woodman mishandled trial evidence and was “derelict in her duties,” an “unprecedented” turnover among Clerk’s Office employees (seven of nine employees, including one hired after Woodman took office, resigned or transferred), “continued alienation of Clerk’s Office staff and other colleagues” and “lack of basic knowledge of court procedures.”

In a July 24 evidentiary hearing, Woodman attributed her mishandling of evidence to communication problems with the court, testifying that Superior Court Judge Michael Peterson was away at the time. When Peterson produced a calendar showing otherwise, Woodman admitted her statement may have been inaccurate. It was further believed by defense attorneys that she committed perjury during the hearing.

Based on those factors, Peterson informed the Arizona Supreme Court there was a risk the office would become unable to perform its required duties. In October, Chief Justice Robert Brutinel, after meeting with Woodman, issued an administrative order placing the Clerk’s Office under Peterson’s direct supervision and stripping Woodman of her duties. The order also stated that her actions had potentially increased the state’s liability risk.

Despite being prohibited from conducting the clerk’s duties or accessing the Graham County Courthouse, Woodman continues to draw the clerk’s full salary.

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