Tempe Voters To Decide Whether Council Can Oust Elected Leaders

By Mariana Dale
Published: Friday, June 29, 2018 - 3:34pm

Tempe voters will decide in November whether the city council can vote to remove its own members.

The proposed change requires a vote of at least five to oust one of the council’s seven members for unlawful conduct involving moral turpitude, fraud or corruption.

Mayor Mark Mitchell dispelled speculation the change was a reaction to alleged misconduct of councilman Kolby Granville.  

“This is not about past actions this about moving forward in the future,” Mitchell said. “This is really truly holding ourselves and our peers to a higher standard and being in line with some of the surrounding cities.”

Kolby Granville was fired from his job at a Tempe charter school based on accusations of misconduct with former students. The Phoenix Police Department did not press charges against Granville.

Councilman Randy Keating also addressed the so-called “elephant in the room.”

“This is in no way about Council member Granville or an attempt to re-litigate the past," Keating said. "This is about moving forward and aligning our cities with our peer cities and with the values that I know we all share.”

Granville himself was not present at the meeting. Councilman Keating read an email on his behalf that expressed support for the proposal.

“Viewed solely on its merits this proposal has the potential to reflect the values of Tempe,” Granville wrote in the email.

Council approved the resolution 5-1.  Councilwoman Robin Arredondo-Savage voted no saying there was not enough opportunity for community input.

What Would The Proposal Do?

The amendment to Tempe’s City Charter would add a new section authorizing the council to remove one of its own members with at least five of seven votes for unlawful conduct involving moral turpitude, fraud or corruption.

The language of the amendment was itself amended by Councilman David Schapira at Thursday’s meeting because he said the original wording was too broad.

A council member targeted for removal could appeal the decision to Maricopa County Superior Court.

Tempe residents could still call for a council member's removal through a recall election.

Voters will approve or deny the amendment in a special election held November 6.

Holding Elected Officials To Higher Accountability

Tempe residents who spoke during call to the audience were split on the proposal.

Berdetta Hodge said she would support a similar measure for the Tempe Union High School District Governing Board where she is the Vice President.

“I feel as an elected official we should be held to a higher accountability and you know what, (there’s) no better person to do it but our peers,” Hodge said.  

RELATED: Tempe Explores Power To Remove City Leaders

Others felt like the proposal, which was publicly discussed a council study session last week, was rushed.

“How will a future council use this power?” asked Tempe resident Darlene Justice. “I am really concerned that are we not all entitled to defend ourselves in court regarding a lawful accusations. I am wondering just how many folks are tried with clear and convincing evidence only to be found innocent.”

The council also voted Thursday to update its code of conduct rules to reflect the expectations placed on all Tempe employees.

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