Oro Valley council members respond to Zinkin's accusations

2013-10-02T00:00:00Z 2014-05-29T12:09:08Z Oro Valley council members respond to Zinkin's accusationsPhil Villarreal Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Three Oro Valley Town Council members say they are not behind an effort to recall fellow council member Mike Zinkin, despite his accusations that they and the mayor are trying to put him out of office.

The Oro Valley Citizens for Ethical Government filed a Statement of Organization and an Application for Recall Petition to recall Zinkin for "behavior unbecoming of a public official" and "complete lack of understanding with regards to public safety."

The petition was filed by Jane Burge, who is married to Larry Burge, Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremath's treasurer during his election campaign. Hiremath said he did not put Burge up to filing the petition, but rather tried to talk her out of it. 

To trigger a recall election, the group must collect 2,131 signatures from valid Oro Valley voters by Jan. 28. A special recall election could occur as early as May 20 and as late as Aug. 26, depending on how long it takes either side to file and verify paperwork.

Zinkin has admitted to making statements that could be construed as sexist and racially insensitive, but says he regrets the comments and is neither sexist nor racist.

Zinkin, a 68-year-old retired air-traffic controller, unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2010 but was elected to the Town Council in 2012. He said he believes Hiremath and Town Council members Lou Waters, Joe Hornat and Mary Snider are organizing the recall effort.

Hiremath, Waters, Hornat and Snider deny Zinkin's charge.

"I have experienced Mr. Zinkin’s offensive attitudes and inappropriate statements toward and about women which are hostile, offensive and unwelcoming to town staff, me and half of our residents," Snider wrote in a statement she emailed to the Star.

"As the sole woman on (the) council, I believe it is important to speak about his statements in support of the women in our employ and our community. Mr. Zinkin and I have differences in our politics and I am comfortable dealing with them in the political arena. No woman should face more difficulties in the professional or political arena because of demeaning, dismissive or disrespectful attitudes grounded solely in a false belief that women or minorities are not equal."

Snider said she fears Zinkin's presence on the council will cause female workers to leave the government.

Hornat said he was surprised that Zinkin blames him and the others for the recall effort.

"I think his conduct is really the issue and has potential to give us a black eye. It's for Oro Valley voters to decide," he said.

Hornat said he thinks Zinkin will back down with his contentions that the mayor and fellow council members are behind the recall effort.

"He's gonna apologize for this, as he did the other ones," Hornat said. "It's frankly that simple in my mind."

In an email to the Star, Waters vigorously refuted Zinkin's assertion.

"I'll admit I have trouble with Mr. Zinkin's assault on the Oro Valley Community Policing Program and his antipathy toward our police chief. But public safety is our most important service to our residents and we will continue that important debate in the political arena.

"That said, Mr. Zinkin's recall problems are his own. He must take responsibility for his actions and not deflect from them by blaming and accusing others for his behavior. And accusing me and others on the council of collusion to get him recalled is not only absurd but sad."

Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at pvillarreal@azstarnet.com or 573-4130.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

About this blog

The Star's Northwest team, Tiffany Kjos and Phil Villarreal, write this blog, which focuses on all of northern Pima County, including Marana, Picture Rocks, Avra Valley, Oro Valley and Catalina; and SaddleBrooke in Pinal County. They welcome contributions via email at northwest@tucson.com