A.J. primary winners could also be booted from office - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

A.J. primary winners could also be booted from office

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Posted: Friday, February 27, 2009 7:36 pm | Updated: 3:04 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Voters in Apache Junction have a daunting task before them. On March 10, while residents of other cities line up to cast their ballot in one mayoral or council election, Apache Junction residents will vote for their mayor and three council members, and then get to vote to recall them, too.

 A.J. candidate profiles

For example, if Mayor John Insalaco wins the primary election and gets recalled, he'll lose his mayoral seat, but only for about three months, said City Councilwoman Robin Barker.

So would Barker, as well as three other council members.

"It's also costing the community," said Barker, who once served as the city's vice mayor. "The recall has caused instability."

Barker said if all council members win the primary but lose the recall, they would have to vacate their seats until June, when the results of the primary take effect.

Insalaco, Vice Mayor R.E. Eck and council members Barker, Richard Dietz and Jeff Serdy are facing recalls.

In the primary, four people are running for mayor and nine are running for three council seats.

Shannon Flynn, a resident who initiated the recall with Jim Stephens, said it is their hope that Insalaco will not win the primary.

Flynn said she is running for Barker's council seat in the recall.

If she wins, Flynn would hold that seat until June, and then give it up to the person who wins the primary.

Flynn, a Republican, said she believes many of the city's mistakes have come when leaders aren't listening to the public.

"Things like that happen a lot," she said. "All of the recalls are basically being put out on them because of failure to listen to the citizens of Apache Junction."

In the mayoral primary, Insalaco faces Dave Waldron and Noel T. Benoist. In the recall, Insalaco faces Benoist and Elliott E. Fisher.

Benoist said he wanted to see change.

"For a great many years, I've seen some bad things going on," Benoist said. "I'm going to have to go in and do it myself."

Benoist said he moved to the city in 1990 and is a founding member of the Apache Junction Business and Property Owners Association.

Insalaco said the recall has encumbered his tenure by taking away time he could have better spent serving the city.

"There's been so much effort and so much time wasted on this recall," he said. "I feel that I have two more years to finish some projects ... I'm just not through with what I wanted to accomplish."

High among those efforts, Insalaco listed networking with other cities and towns and serving on the Central Arizona Association of Governments.

Another mayoral candidate said he wanted to lay down the basic groundwork.

"I want to bring stability back to the City Council and create positive partnerships with Pinal County, the city of Mesa, among other government entities, as well as city council, staff and citizens," Waldron said.

For the three council seats, incumbents Dietz, Douglas Coleman and Eck are running against John Kantowski, Christa Rizzi, Janice Stenglein, Andrew Whiteneck, Ted Mueller and David R. Dowdle.

Kantowski said he was running to make a difference.

"I think I can make a difference," he said. "I've been on planning and zoning and parks and recreation (commissions) for more than two years."

Kantowski said he and many others are opposing current city leaders because they think "the town has been stagnant."

Rizzi, Whiteneck and Stenglein could not be reached for comment.

Mueller said he was running on the promise of reconnecting with the community.

"We want to get more accountability from the City Council," he said.

Dowdle said he was looking toward the future of the city.

"I would like to be involved in the growth of Apache Junction over the next several years," he said. "And if we don't thrive, we will definitely not survive."

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