By Raquel Hendrickson
District 4’s representative on the Central Arizona College Board of Governors could be in trouble.
Rita Nader has been the target of a citizens group since she was among the majority who voted for a raise in the college tax rate this summer. Now Garland Shreves, organizer of Citizens for Fair Taxation, says his group has collected enough signatures to force her ouster.
“We actually have 15 percent over the required number of signatures for recall, and that should be enough cushion,” Shreves said at a meeting he hosted in Maricopa Thursday.
District 4 includes Maricopa.
Ever since district boundaries were redrawn to match Board of Supervisor districts, Nader has not been a resident of the district she represents. She lives in Casa Grande and was allowed to fulfill her term, which ends in 2016.
Nader has been on the board since 1993. A retired junior high teacher, she was one of three members who voted to set the CAC tax rate at $2.30 per $100 of net assessed valuation at a June meeting.
The board members have said more funding is needed to repair old buildings and maintain its facilities.
CAC has seen a reduction of 80 percent in state funding over the past nine years and has received no capital funding since 2008. Capital funds are used for new construction and renovation of facilities.
After a college tax increase in 2013, a recall effort was started against Nader, but petitioners missed the deadline.
Nader was not available for comment.
“They keep doing this kind of thing until somebody squawks about it,” said Province resident Louis Deverka, who attended Thursday’s meeting to get more information and signed a petition afterward. “I mean, isn’t there a limit to what these people do each year? Is our government that loose?”
Shreves is suing the college board over alleged open meeting violations. Though initial opinion from the state Attorney General’s office found no such violation occurred, Shreves said he requested the AG exercise due diligence in looking at all the information he wanted to give investigators. That could result in a follow-up opinion.
Shreves said CFFT is “within a hair’s breadth” of having enough signatures to force a recall of Board President Gladys Christensen of District 1. Her term expires in 2018. CFFT also seeks to recall Jack Yarrington and Rick Gibson.
Nader’s recall requires the fewest number of signatures (1,326) of all the targeted board members. Petitions are due Sept. 24. If the number of verified signatures is reached, and Nader does not resign, Pinal County Recorder Virginia Ross would set an election date, possibly as early as March.
Thursday’s gathering at the Copa Center was the second meeting CFFT has hosted in Maricopa. Shreves said in recalling and replacing board members, he hopes to effect the dismissal of college President Doris Helmich and Vice President Chris Wodka.
“Taxes are just too high,” resident William Nelson said. “Everything is too high. I came here to find out about it.”