A recall drive against two members of the Pima Community College Governing Board has failed.
Citizens for PCC Integrity, the group leading the effort, was unable to gather the tens of thousands of voter signatures needed to force Scott Stewart and Marty Cortez, the board’s two longest-serving members, to run for their seats again this fall.
“To work so hard on something that didn’t succeed is obviously very disappointing,” said Oro Valley businessman Cort Chalfant, one of the group’s leaders.
Organizers needed to collect around 25,000 verifiable signatures of registered voters to force recall races in District 4, which Stewart has held since 1999, and District 5, which Cortez has held since 1995. Chalfant said more than 10,000 signatures were obtained, but couldn’t say what the final tally was. Tuesday was the deadline for filing recall paperwork with the county elections department.
Stewart sees the end of the recall effort as a positive sign. “The community has spoken. We are focused on the work that needs to get done to build a better, stronger Pima Community College,” he said in an email.
Cortez said she hopes “all involved will continue to care about Pima” and will work to help the college improve.
Stewart and Cortez are part of a board deemed “dysfunctional” by the school’s accreditor when it placed PCC on probation a little over a year ago. Both have been urged to resign by college faculty and staff, taxpayer groups, business leaders, students and others. Stewart’s term expires in 2016, Cortez’s in 2018.
A survey of PCC workplace morale found the continued presence of Stewart, Cortez and other longtime board members is a sore point with many college employees. Now that the recall effort is over, organizers say they’ll focus on working to unseat board members as they come up for re-election. Longtime District 1 incumbent Brenda Even will be targeted first if she runs for re-election later this year, Chalfant said.
At least two potential District 1 challengers are already lining up: Mark Hanna, a PCC volunteer and counselor at Catalina Magnet High School, and Michael Duran, an executive with Tucson Medical Center. Even didn’t respond to a request for comment on whether she intends to run. The filing deadline to run is Aug. 6.