Guest Editorial: Tom Rawles
It is time to get involved

By Tom Rawles | August 5, 2009

I am in and committed

My wife and I moved to Carefree from Mesa in November of 2008. We are, therefore, newcomers. As such, we are reluctant to get too deeply involved in Carefree politics that, without more history and background, we may not thoroughly understand. Additionally, having been involved in Arizona politics for over 30 years, we were looking forward to a political respite.

As we watched the 2009 town elections, we were intrigued, but limited ourselves to voting. As the Recall David Schwan movement began, we decided not to get involved. I have never favored the use of recalls to alter the results of fairly conducted elections or, for that matter, to resurrect previously decided policy issues. I respect the right of citizens to pursue recalls for these reasons, but I personally felt they were an unwise and divisive, although not illegal, use of the recall power.

Finally, however, the opponents of the current recall movement have convinced me that it is time to get involved. Instead of just fighting the recall on its merits, or lack of merits, they have asserted every power they possess to stifle the rights of the citizens to exercise their constitutionally-granted recall power. Instead of merely disagreeing, they have exerted pressure to preclude the gathering of signatures at the post office/town council building (since overturned by the courts) in blatant violation of First Amendment privileges. Instead of limiting themselves to the substantive arguments pro or con, they employed the power of government to force the removal of political signs, another form of protected constitutional speech. For all those who love liberty, these are frightening steps by the controlling powers.
And they have frightened me into signing the recall petition.

One may respond that these steps have not been done by Mayor Schwan personally and that, therefore, they do not constitute a basis for signing the recall petition. I disagree. The qualities I look for most in an elected official are leadership and a commitment to protect and preserve individual freedoms. The latter is exactly why governments are formed (“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men” – Declaration of Independence).

In my view, Mayor Schwan should have, immediately upon being advised of the recall movement, announced that while he disagreed with its purpose and objective, he unequivocally supported the people’s right to do what they were doing. He should have further announced that he would do everything within his power to make sure that the recall movement was fully protected in the exercise of its constitutional rights. Thus, he should have made it clear that the town not only had no opposition to the use of the post office/town council building for signature gathering, but that the town would do all it could to ensure its continued accessibility. He should have put an immediate end to the sign squabble by instructing town staff to back off. Those acts would have demonstrated both leadership and a commitment to personal liberties, and they would have kept me from signing a recall petition.

Now, however, the die is cast. I am in and committed, so I will use this opportunity to make one substantive argument. I don’t think Mayor Schwan should be recalled because he opposed the direct election of the mayor. But, I do think he should be recalled because he included in his July 15, 2009 political mailing an outrageously elitist argument by Lyn Hitchon. Ms. Hitchon argued that only those people who attend town council meetings are qualified to vote for the town’s mayor. Thus, she must also believe that only those who attend state legislature meetings and sessions of Congress are qualified to vote for our state legislators, congressmen and senators. In her world, who is entitled to vote for President or Governor? Just those who know the candidates personally?

It is this elitist attitude that truly underlies much of the recall momentum. Maybe someday “they” will understand that. Maybe the recall movement will help. I hope so.