Contributed Photo: Deposed Graham County Clerk of the Superior Court Cindy Woodman has until Jan. 30 to decide if she will attempt to be re-elected to her position in a special recall election. More than the required amount of verified signatures to trigger a recall election were given back to the Graham County Elections Department on Tuesday.
By Jon Johnson
SAFFORD – The recall of Cindy Woodman as Graham County Clerk is moving forward into its next phase as more than the required number of necessary signatures have been verified by the Graham County Recorder.
The recall effort began in September 2019. The Committee for the Recall of Cindy Woodman as Graham County Clerk of Superior Court had until Jan. 1 to gather 2,697 signatures, which is 25 percent of the total votes cast for Woodman and her previous opponent during the 2018 election. Committee Chairman Darlee Maylen dropped off 3,147 signatures to the Graham County Elections Department on Nov. 18, 2019. Duderstadt told the Gila Herald that on Tuesday she had received 2,800 verified signatures back from the Graham County Recorder’s Office, which then initiated the next phase that includes notifying Woodman and waiting for her response.
Duderstadt said a certified letter was sent to Woodman on Tuesday and that she would have until Thursday to be in receipt of the news. Woodman will then have until Thursday, Jan. 30, to resign from her position. If Woodman chooses not to resign, she will then have until Feb. 2 to submit a defense statement of up to 200 words that will appear on the ballot. If Woodman does not resign, the Graham County Board of Supervisors will have 15 days to declare that an election will take place. The election would likely be on May 19 and will be a straight forward election choice between Woodman and whoever else is running for the position, according to Duderstadt. Voters will not have a choice to either recall or not as that has been settled by the number of signatures on the petition but simply to vote for the candidate of their choice for the position.
Former dental hygienist Woodman ran on the Republican ticket in the November 2018 election and bested her Democratic opponent, Heidi Torrio, 55 percent to 45 percent with about 1,000 more votes out of the roughly 10,786 ballots cast. She later came under fire for reportedly mishandling evidence in a felony case, her apparent inability to learn the position, and has been blamed for an exodus of clerks from her office since she began in January among other accusations of ineptitude.
Woodman was relieved of her duties on Oct. 11 with the issuance of the Supreme Court of the State of Arizona’s Administrative Order No. 2019-123. Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert M. Brutinel stripped Woodman of her duties and instead turned the oversight of the day-to-day operations over to Graham County Superior Court Judge Michael D. Peterson.
In the order, Judge Peterson was given total administrative control and oversight of the clerk’s office, including having the authority to reassign the duties of the Clerk of the Court and all personnel, manage court and financial records, revoke signing authority on any governmental bank accounts and to access computer systems and to expend funds budget for the office.
Chief Justice Brutinel wrote that the “action is necessary to restore proper operations of the Clerk’s Office in Graham County.”
Since then, Woodman has not been back at the office in any capacity and her duties were given to a newly chosen “lead clerk”. Maylen said the recall effort kicked into high gear once the Supreme Court’s order was issued because the taxpayers were essentially still paying Woodman for not doing any work.
“With the Supreme Court order that she be banned from the building, why should we the taxpayers be paying for a person who can’t even be allowed into the courthouse,” Maylen said in November when turning in the petition signatures.
According to Maylen, Woodman’s annual salary is $63,800, which approximates to $110,000 after adding in the county’s employee-related expenses. She said her committee will continue to educate the public on the situation up to the recall election so the county doesn’t find itself in the same boat after the election.
The Gila Herald attempted to contact Woodman for comment but her cell phone mailbox was full and could not accept any new messages and the number we have listed for her home phone is disconnected.