The attempted recall of Mayor Bob Walkup and two council members could be over before it ever gets up a real head of steam. Businessman Humberto Lopez, who instigated the drive and was counted on for funding, said he wants to drop the effort.
In an interview following Walkup's State of the City speech on Friday, Lopez said he would consider dropping the effort against Councilwomen Karin Uhlich and Regina Romero as well, if they adopt a pro-business stance.
The reason for the reversal, Lopez said, was the message of Walkup's speech, which pledged to cut red tape for businesses, reform the land-use code, insure consistent inspections from Development Services, consolidate local governments and try to annex the Catalina Foothills.
"I was very pleased with what I heard," Lopez said. "I will help him and not try to divide the community."
Although Lopez cited the speech for his change of heart, he had already told the Building Owners and Managers Association of Greater Tucson on Tuesday he was considering dropping the effort if he could get some business-friendly concessions from the city.
Dropping the recall could come as early as next week, Lopez said, although he said he has to meet with his Tucson Tea Party allies first to make sure they are agreeable.
Tea Party co-founder Trent Humphries said that while the Tea Party agrees Walkup's speech was a step in the right direction, the mayor's talk would have to be backed up with action before the Tea Party would abandon the recall against Walkup, Romero and Uhlich.
Right now the Tea Party is proceeding as planned, he said.
Lopez and the Tea Party only formally kicked off the recall campaign a week ago and opened their recall campaign offices on Wednesday.
Organizers have until mid-May to get the required signatures. They will need roughly 16,000 for Walkup, 15,000 for Romero and 18,000 for Uhlich.
If they turn them in by March, the election could coincide with the August primaries. If they turn them in by April or May, the recall election could be timed with November's general election.
Lopez said the mayor has stepped up, and now he needs the support of the rest of the City Council.
"If they support what the mayor talked about today, there is no reason to be divisive," Lopez said. "We don't have any reason to continue the recall."
Uhlich and Romero had different reactions to the potential end of the recall.
"I certainly think the end of the recall would offer the chance for all of us - the entire community - to unify to solve the problems of the community," Uhlich said. "I thought the mayor's speech was very good today. All of his ideas merit serious consideration and dialogue."
Romero didn't really address the potential drop of the recall effort. "The residents of Tucson elected me to fight for their interests," Romero said. "I can only focus on the business at hand."
Humphries said finding solutions to the city's problems is more important than getting political scalps, but he said the Tea Party won't drop the recall until there is action behind the mayor's words.
"The right things were said today in a lot of ways," Humphries said. "Now we'd like to see some action."
Humphries said the Tea Party would have to help the mayor if he moved forward with his State of the City proposals. Lopez wholeheartedly agreed.
"I am an ally; I'm behind him," Lopez said. "I'll get the community to back him up."
Contact reporter Rob O'Dell at 573-4346 or firstname.lastname@example.org