March 3, 2024 9:24 AM
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Misuse of the Prescott Mayor Recall Process: Who’s Behind the Curtain? – Arizonans for Promoting Integrity

The misuse of the recall process in Prescott continues. Despite an outside legal investigation that concluded Mayor Goode did not violate the city charter—discrediting the very premise of the recall petition. (1)  Despite the city manager has since voluntarily resigned her position with the city. (2) And despite it was the sweetheart deal with the Arizona Eco Development (AED) developer during Mayor Mengarelli’s last term which set in motion these “impending” lawsuits. (3)

So, what would be the Recall Committee’s driving force to continue when the very foundation of the recall has been so quickly and resoundingly discredited? Why has this recall consistently been framed as the necessity to “take back our town?” (4)  Most importantly, who are these special interest groups behind the recall who seek extraordinary influence over the Prescott political process?  And exactly what do they seek?

The answers to some of these questions may be found directly from Recall Committee members Stan Goligoski and Becky Ruffner. (5) At the outset, it was clear the recall campaign desperately sought a Save the Dells endorsement evidenced by the (early version) “nogoode.com” website referencing Save the Dells with the AED development agreement. To understand the campaign’s solicitous behavior, it is important to first recognize the impact of Save the Dells.(6) This grassroots organization, beginning in 2018—with supporters across the political spectrum—effectively lobbied Prescott City Council and the (AED) developer to preserve over 474 acres during the Granite Dells annexation. Save the Dells later emerged as an influential Political Action Committee in the Prescott region,(7) successfully endorsing candidates who supported their principles.(8) Today Save the Dell’s core mission remains the same: champion open space conservation, safeguard our water supply, support slower and carefully designed growth and development, and protect our quality of life concerning these goals.

Interestingly, during their conversation, both Mr. Goligoski and Ms. Ruffner recognized Mayor Goode worked very hard with the city council to live up to his campaign promises to Save the Dells and slow growth. In fact, Goligoski even confessed “I voted for Goode” (in the 2021 election) because “I didn’t like the way growth was in our town.” He further admitted he had Come-to-Jesus Meetings with family and friends to express his concern about how growth is “being perceived that one person (former Mayor Mengarelli) is benefiting from this.”

Yet, Goligoski and Ruffner’s recall petition stated Mayor Goode violated the city charter and he was guilty of malfeasance.(9) For her part, Ruffner also stated the social justice reasons for the mayor’s recall were his: 1) failure to sign a Black Lives Matter petition,10 2) failure to meet with the CEO of The Launch Pad Teen Center,11 and 3) failure to attend any “events” at The Federal.(12) Goligoski claimed because Mayor Goode was “not inclusive in our community,” there was a “groundswell of people who came to me” and asked me to run for mayor.

During this conversation, and since the recall began, Goligoski often teased the public with “it is surprising who is in the room” (supporting the recall).(13) When asked directly, both Goligoski and Ruffner readily disclosed: Karen Fann, Mike Fann, Kathy Sischka, Ken Mabarak, Don Biele, and Alex Vakula.14 Later in the conversation, Goligoski and Ruffner also revealed their core supporters involved in the recall effort as Rebecca Horniman, Courtney Osterfelt, and Whitney Williams.(15)

Exactly who are these people in our Prescott community?

On one side, we have those who woefully misunderstand that social justice issues are not the primary role of local/municipal government. Basic city services top that list: public safety (police and fire protection), adequate and safe water supply, planned development and infrastructure, and waste management.  While diversity, equity, and inclusion are worthy goals, the mayoral focus must be on these critical services upon which residents depend.(16)

On the other side, we have the native/long-time commercial and residential developers, politicians, car dealers, and real estate attorneys who view new residents as interlopers.  As more people arrive to live in Prescott, their steady drumbeat of the need to “Preserve our Western Values” grows ever louder. What does that dog whistle mean? Simple: Buy our homes and vehicles, and patronize our stores and businesses. But you’re not entitled to any voice in our politics or how we run things around here.

Prescott voters need to understand the players behind this recall effort have differing goals. One believes a successful recall will give them a political voice; the other believes that a successful recall will allow them to continue with their development plans unchecked. The mayor’s lack of support for cultural issues is immaterial to the performance of his actual job—and while unfortunate—shouldn’t be a basis for a recall. On the other hand, sensible growth is critical to Prescott’s future and everyone’s quality of life.

For a voter to believe the actual interests of either of the parties behind the recall deal with any kind of mayoral misconduct or abuse, is either naïve or uninformed.

REFERENCES

(1) City of Prescott press release, December 19, 2023.

(2) City of Prescott press release, December 19, 2023.

(3) In this development agreement, the city agreed to run utilities to a parcel of land owned by Arizona Eco Development (AED). Former Mayor Greg Mengarelli and City Attorney Jon Paladini signed the contract with AED on July 13, 2021. Michael Lamar was City Manager at this time.

(4) KYCA RadioAM Talks Wednesday, November 29, 2023.

(5) At Goligoski’s request, the two met with members of Save the Dells (StD) to discuss an apology from Goligoski. During a KYCA radio show interview on November 29, 2023, Goligoski made statements that led the public to assume he was part of the Save the Dells movement. Once the interview aired, along with erroneous information posted on the recall website, many in the public mistakenly assumed StD supported the recall. The organization does not. To avoid any further “mistakes,” Joanne Oellers, the Save the Dells Chair, asked to record their conversation. All agreed. This conversation took place at The Federal, 101 W. Goodwin Street, 2nd Floor on December 3, 2023. Goligoski has since issued an apology to StD on both his campaign website and the recall website for any “erroneous information written or expressed.”

(6) The history, accomplishments, and current issues for this organization can be found at SavetheDells.org.

(7) Save the Dell’s growing political influence has not gone unnoticed by a long-time politician and a large landowner/developer in our region. Karen Fann and Brad Fain recently discussed StD during a local podcast. Karen Fann asked rhetorically, “Are we really saving something that is historic for a reason? . . . Why are we going to save all these hundreds of acres in between . . . and obviously part of that motive is to stop the growth.” Brad Fain immediately chimed in, “Yeah, the no-growthers. They have the “Save the Dells” banner up as their trojan horse walking into a conversation.” http://tinyurl.com/yc54wykv. “Living a Good Life,” August 19, 2023.

(8) Save the Dells endorsed present Prescott city council members: Connie Cantelme, Cathey Rusing, Lois Fruhwirth, Ted Gambogi, and Phil Goode in the last election.

(9) Mr. Goligoski stated the use of the word “malfeasance” in the recall petition came directly from Prescott City Council member Eric Moore’s complaint letter against Mayor Goode

(10) Arizonans for Promoting Integrity contacted Mayor Goode. No “Black Lives Matter” petition/proclamation was ever presented to the city council.

(11) The Launch Pad Teen Center is a “youth-driven and focused space, providing programming that is culturally relevant to teens in Yavapai County.” Organization’s mission, 990 Tax Form. This organization received $508,250 from the Don Bennett Moon Foundation in 2018-19 https://www.grantmakers.io/profiles/v0/472540857-don-bennett-moon-foundation-inc/.

(12) The Federal is a corporate, wedding, and social event center in downtown Prescott. Given the recent clashes with city council over updating the sexually oriented business ordinance, these “events” Ms. Ruffner refers to are the adult performances (drag shows) held at this event center. (These shows are legally protected adult-oriented businesses under ARS 13-1422.)

(13) KYCA Radio AM Talks Wednesday, November 29, 2023; https://www.dcourier.com/news/2023/nov/27/group-files-recall-seeking-oust-prescott-mayor-phi/

(14) Karen Fann: AZ Legislator for eleven years, Former owner/CEO of highway guardrail company – AZ Highway Safety Specialists; Mike Fann: Owner Fann Construction (one of the largest road construction firms in Arizona), Owner/Developer “The Dells” residential development; Ken Mabarak: Commercial developer of Lakeview Plaza at Willow Creek & Willow Lake Rds., Manager at Equicor – Investment firm specializing in acquiring, developing, and building properties; Alex Vakula: Attorney specializing in real estate, business, and investment; Kathy Sischka: Owner of Olsen’s Grain, Inc., married to former Prescott city council member Steve Sischka; Don Biele: Owner of York RV.

(15) Rebecca Horniman: Marketing and public relations; Courtney Osterfelt: CEO of The Launch Pad Teen Center; Whitney Williams: 4th-grade teacher at Abia Judd, Director, House of Hues.

(16) https://www.wsj.com/business/how-the-push-for-diversity-at-colleges-and-companies-came-under-siege-036d4065?mod=djem10point; https://abcnews.go.com/US/corporate-america-slashing-dei-workers-amid-backlash-diversity/story?id=100477952.

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16 Responses

  1. Too bad The Daily Courier will be silent on this investigative reporting; or possibly take a path to mitigate the people and issues presented here. As a 20 year resident of Prescott Valley I see the same pressures to expand and use their power and influence to control local government.
    My compliments and admiration for the people researching and developing this report that is critical to the quality of life and possibly our water supplies which are shrinking.

    1. This article is well researched, balanced and written, unlike the garbage we get from The Courier. It is very clear that those supporting this recall have ulterior motives which go directly against the positions of the mayor, the majority of other council members and the citizens of Prescott. I served with Mr. Goode on the Prescott Zoning Board when Deep Well Ranch was ramrodded through over our objections and passed 6-1 by the city council when Greg Mengarelli and the developer cabal was in charge. The recall effort is being pushed by this cabal along with social “justice” warriors and must be resoundingly defeated.

  2. Goligoski is a Democrat who is a registered Republican. He is campaigned with the Dems and is for Critical Race theory to be taught in the schools. He clearly dislikes Conservatives who bother to attend school board meetings. He says he is a veteran but he is a leftist. People like him are dangerous to Prescott

  3. I agree, the Courier is trash. Great information here, very well done! I wish people would start talking about Former Mayor Greg Mengarelli supposedly running for County Supervisor. We need that like we need another hole in our head.

  4. Goligoski is a registered Republican but campaigned with the Democrats for the Prescott School Board. He states he is a Veteran but demonstrates his disgust for Conservatives at the school board meetings. He along with the rest of the board support the radical agenda for the children of Prescott.

  5. Great reporting. The only thing I would disagree with is the statement that “diversity, equity, and inclusion are worthy goals”. They are not “worthy goals” if they negate merit. In cases where this occurs, diversity, equity and inclusion are nothing more than blatant discrimination.

    1. Well said Buz, except the “if they negate merit”. That is exactly what DEI does, and that is what makes it so wrong.

  6. The woke have arrived.. The citizens of Prescott are largely asleep, many are in denial. Conservative values are being undermined. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are code for Neo Marxism. Better wake up.

  7. I hate government force regardless if it is the president of the US or a local school board or city-town council. The answer is a more aware citizenry. But how can we send the Prescott E News report on “the good ole boys” corruption of our community’s to everyone? (cut -paste and send to everyone on your E-mail list for starters.)

  8. This well written, fact driven article exposes the left leaning woke minority like a light being turned on at night exposes a cock roach infestation. Even the smallest number of cock roaches, if not taken seriously, multiply until everything they occupy is ruined.

    Think about what has happened to New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, Portland and San Francisco. And sadly, what is happening to Phoenix. Wake up people. This is how it starts.

    If you want to keep Prescott conservative and hold dear the values of freedom, morality and believe in less Government, keep the light shining and make sure everyone you know in our amazing city reads this article and understands that this is how it starts. Gogligoski’s tactics are nothing new. Straight from the leftist play book. Our values are clearly being put at risk. People like Goligoski and those who support him do not care about Prescott, only themselves and their lust for power.

  9. OUTLANDER

    This committee could call itself Professional Hunters for Wildlife Preservation. The leaders of this group have depended over the years on city subsidies, concessions, and other favors helping themselves, their families, and their associates financially and otherwise. A handful of innocents seem to have been drawn into their circle. A basic point should be understood: Public officials should be recalled only for proved legal and ethical breeches.

    1. 100% !!! It seems clear that Gogligoski and his supporters have not been honest as to their backgrounds and true motives. Essentially, they argue we don’t agree with Mayor Goode and he isn’t nice to us so we want to recall him. If that’s all you have, you clearly don’t understand the Constitutional Republic our country was founded on , or you are not speaking the truth as to what your real motives are.

      I, like the overwhelming majority of the citizens of Prescott are fed up and tired of the divisive rhetoric coming from the left. Ever notice they spend all their time and energy putting down people they don’t agree with, but never take the time to share with you a positive message of what they want to do and how they intend to do it.

      A recall because you don’t agree with the Mayor? Please! People disagree in politics., that’s how it works. The solution isn’t to shut down, silence and cancel the person you don’t agree with. The community moves forward when we come together on the overwhelming things we agree on and then thoughtfully listen to each other on the differences and respectfully provide ideas and solutions that we can agree on.

      The people of Prescott overwhelming supported Mayor Phil Goode and it is a sad day indeed here in Prescott that a very small minority are trying to overturn the will of the people.

      If Gogligoski has ideas he thinks the majority of the people in Prescott support, then let’s hear them and campaign for Mayor. If they are valid and supported by the majority, you should win. Creating division and telling us what you don’t like about the person you don’t agree with is not a solution.

      And that is all Gigligoski and his “committee” have done.

  10. I have lived in Prescott since the 1940s, long before any associated with the recall. As a young woman, I was Dem nat. committeewoman for AZ for 12 years. During that time two women from Prescott—one from each party—were state legislators from this district. Later, when GOP legislator Gladys Gardner retired, I was honored to speak at her retirement ceremony. People of both parties worked together in goodwill. I have been appalled by the conduct in the legislature over the past nine years by the Speaker of the AZ House (including the alleged recount of the last national election). She is now head of ALEC, the Koch Brothers’ political organization. Shame on her and shame on those supporting the recall. It has no credible basis.

  11. I would ask that the authors of this article go back and review the proposed changes to the Sexually Oriented Business section to the Prescott City Code and the corresponding City Council hearing on Oct. 24, 2023. This was more than a “lack of support for cultural issues.” This was a blatant attempt to outlaw certain businesses and forms of expression, which would be a violation of the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

    1. Making vague allegations such as yours, regarding changes of the “Sexually Orientated Business section” are exactly the kind of divisive politics that are not welcomed here in Prescott.

      You made a claim of a policy change yet provided no evidence as to who proposed the alleged policy changes nor did you offer any proof as to what the Mayor’s stated position is on this matter.

      The last thing the citizens of Prescott want or need is a Mayor who takes it upon himself to be our sexual or cultural overlord. There are much more important things the Mayor and our city council need to be concerned with other than what happens in our bedrooms.

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