CRCA Recall Vote Stalled
By Phil Villarreal
ARIZONA DAILY STAR, 2013
Several Continental Ranch residents say their attempts to recall their homeowners association’s board of directors have been unfairly ignored.
Citing a laundry list of complaints, on May 8 residents submitted 667 signatures on a petition to hold a recall election of the entire Continental Ranch Community Association board.
The residents say that according to bylaws and state statutes, the board was required to hold a special election by June 7. Instead, residents say, the board ignored the mandate and questioned the legitimacy of the petition signers.
Residents say the board sent out a letter to those who signed the petition asking them to come to the HOA office to sign a different petition.
A.R.S. 33-1813 requires that HOAs hold a recall election within 30 days of receiving a petition signed by more than 10 percent of a community’s homeowners. The Continental Ranch Community Association governs more than 4,400 homes.
The board consists of president John Lambert as well as Peggy Bracken, Marilyn Stimpson, Connie DeLarge, Robert Volbrecht and Karie Westphal. Marana Town Council-woman Roxanne Ziegler served on the board before resigning in February. Ziegler did not respond to requests for comment.
In a letter obtained by the Star dated May 17, Mesa-based attorney Clint Goodman, who represents the HOA, explained to residents his rationale for why the board would not hold the election.
“To accomplish this within 30 days is no easy task. It requires literally hundreds of man-hours verifying the petition, preparing notices and ballots, mail, etc. The costs to accomplish something of this magnitude in a master-planned community of this size are substantial.
“For example, the recent annual meeting wherein the board was elected cost the association over $15,000. Much of that cost was in postage alone. We have no doubt that the cost of a removal meeting will run between $15,000 and $20,000 or more, which is why it is vitally important to ensure that the petition is verified.”
Goodman wrote that several unnamed petition signers had asked that their signatures be rescinded. Goodman wrote that the HOA would conduct the recall election only if enough petition signers came to the office by May 23 to sign a petition and present a government ID. The Continental Ranch Community Association is at 9150 N, Coachline Blvd.
The association referred all inquiries from the Star to Goodman, who did not return calls requesting comment.
Sandy Padilla, 74, said she’s fed up with the HOA. “They send threatening letters to homeowners. Intimidating and bullying letters” she said. “It’s what they call a rogue board. They always agree on everything.”
There are four slots up for election on the board this year. The election will be conducted by mail and results will be revealed at an Oct. 26 meeting.
Larry Lemieux, 64, said he will run for the board. He served from 2010 to 2012, when his re-election bid failed. “It’s time for a change. The board has been there too long and become to entrenched. Probably a little disrespectful to the residents,” he said. “And not interested in entertaining new ideas, thoughts or perspectives.”
Lemieux said the board votes in unison and does not listen to residents. “It seems like a majority of the board have made up their minds and essentially vote in a bloc,” Lemieux said. “When you vote in a bloc, it’s very frustrating for the board members who don’t share in the prevalent opinion. Essentially what you’ve got is a closed group that doesn’t want to entertain new ideas.” Lemieux said the bloc includes everyone on the current board except Westphal.
Carol Altmann, who used to chair the board’s finance committee, said she supports the recall “because (Lambert) is a dictator and a bully.” Altmann, 84, said Lambert would deny Altmann’s requests to review invoices by telling her she was working too hard.
“He didn’t like us checking up on him at all,” she said. “He refused to give us any information that we wanted.” Altmann said it will be tough to wait until October for change she calls long needed. “No matter where we’re turning, we’re turning, we’re not getting any help” she said. “It’s like we’re butting our heads against a brick wall.”