A recent Continental Ranch Homeowner’s Association (HOA) meeting became so out of hand that it prompted a police presence and a premature adjournment – the result of what residents are saying was an unjust dismissal of an attempt to recall the entire board.
The board is made up of president John Lambert and members Peggy Bracken, Connie DeLarge, Karie Westphal, Robert Volbrecht, and Marily Stimpson.
In May, a recall committee had collected 667 signatures, which is more than the required amount to prompt a special election under state statute.
The deadline for that election was June 7, but no action has been taken.
Clint Goodman, the attorney who represents the Continental Ranch Community Association, recently sent out a letter to all community homeowners detailing why the election would not occur.
Following the petition, all homeowners received a letter asking them to come into the office to verify their signatures were valid.
Goodman’s letter claims that during that verification process, “Members (residents) told us that they were lied to, misled, never told they were signing a petition to remove the board, and, in some cases, didn’t even sign a petition and speculated that their signature was forged.”
Nearly 20 dissenters, whose names are not provided, allegedly say they were misinformed about what they were signing.
For that reason, Goodman wrote, the entire petition was considered illegitimate.
“If there is some sort of alleged fraud or some sort of alleged misconduct or misrepresentation of the members, I have a duty to protect not only everyone’s rights here today, but the thousands of people who aren’t here today,” Goodman said in a June 20 HOA meeting.
But resident Sandy Padilla, one of those who initiated the recall effort, says this is simply another example of the recurring bullying tactics used by the board – a board she and others say is entirely disrespectful and misrepresentative of residents’ wishes.
Padilla said careful procedure and transparency was used while collecting those signatures, and believes Goodman is lying.
Goodman did not respond to a request for comment.
Unfortunately, said Padilla, by withholding the names of those alleged dissenters, the board continues to hold all the power without offering proof of an invalid petition.
“How do we know the people who ‘allegedly’ signed these comments are people who signed the petition?” Padilla said.
Even if the signatures were invalid, Padilla said the recall should still stand. She said only 525 signatures are needed for the recall, 142 less than the number collected.
“We made sure to collect enough signatures in case they found some were not in good standing, i.e., behind on their assessments or have an unpaid fine,” she said. “These are the only reasons that the signatures would be disallowed.”
The frustrations of residents have spiked after three consecutive board meetings were cancelled with short notice. That meant missed opportunities to voice their concerns over community policies, or worse, the inability to enforce their recall efforts.
That frustration was evident as residents targeted Lambert for using strong-arm tactics, not only relating to the recall attempt, but also to the Continental Ranch Windmill, the community’s monthly publication.
“Nobody can get a letter into The Windmill except John and his friends,” said resident Woody Smith in the June meeting. “I think that sucks, because the First Amendment gives us the right to put something in there to oppose what they are saying.”
Shortly after Smith spoke, former board member and resident Roxanne Ziegler, called for Lambert’s resignation.
“John, you set the tone and tenor of every meeting, and the tone and tenor is you don’t want to be here,” she said. “We see it on all your faces. You’re bored, you don’t want to listen to us, you don’t want to show up… The way you act so disrespectfully to this community – do us a favor and quit. Please. There are plenty of people here who will take your seats. Get up, do the right thing, and resign.”
Ziegler, a member of the Marana Town Council, also questioned Goodman’s loyalties. Goodman serves at the pleasure of the board, but his attorney fees are paid by the homeowners of Continental Ranch, one of Southern Arizona’s largest subdivisions with more than 4,000 homes represented.
“You need to remember who you work for,” said Ziegler. “You work for the people in this community… I’m not willing to have my assessment money burned up because this board can’t handle its business.”
Padilla has since filed a bar charge against Goodman, though Staff Bar Counsel advised she hire a private attorney because her “concerns and allegations raise legal issues that are beyond the jurisdiction of the State Bar.”
To date, Lambert and the board remain intact.
Members of the recall committee say their next most likely step is to gather enough support to vote the board out of office in the fall election.