After months of testing the waters, a citizens group launched a recall drive Monday against the two longest-serving members of Pima Community College’s Governing Board.
Scott Stewart, who has occupied the board’s District 4 seat since 1999, and Marty Cortez, who has held District 5 since 1995, are being targeted for ouster by a coalition of business and community leaders and PCC students and employees.
It’s thought to be the first time in the school’s 45-year history that such action has been taken against the unpaid elected officials responsible for overseeing the college.
Recall organizers say the PCC board needs new members to help get the school back on track after it was placed on two years’ probation by its accreditor in April.
The accreditor cited grave problems, including corrupt hiring and contracting practices, sexual harassment of female employees and a toxic work environment, all linked to lax board oversight of the school’s then top executives.
Since then, board members have attended training sessions to help them become more effective, which critics see as a lost cause.
“The college needs to heal and move on, and the healing process can’t begin until these folks are off the board,” said Oro Valley businessman Cort Chalfant, who is leading one of the recall committees on behalf of Citizens for PCC Integrity.
Backers of the recall include representatives from the Southern Arizona Leadership Council, the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, the college’s Faculty Senate and other PCC employee groups.
Stewart and Cortez didn’t respond to requests for comment on the recall effort. Messages sent to their private email and college email accounts got no response.
The citizens group filed formal paperwork Monday with Pima County’s Elections Department as the first step in the recall process.
Members now have 120 days to gather nearly 30,000 voter signatures from across the two districts to force the board members back to the polls this fall.
Without a recall, Stewart’s current term of office will expire in 2016 and Cortez’s in 2018.
The recall group is seeking donors and people to help gather signatures. Its first volunteer training session is later today, and more are planned once a headquarters is established.
Stewart and Cortez were part of a “dysfunctional” board that lacked integrity and had a “symbiotic” relationship” with former Chancellor Roy Flores, who resigned in 2012 after eight women accused him of sexual harassment, the accreditor said.
Stewart and Cortez have refused repeated calls to resign in light of the accreditor’s findings
Two other Flores-era board members, Brenda Even and David Longoria, also have rejected calls to resign.
Even isn’t part of the recall effort, since she’s near the end of her current term and is up for re-election this fall. Longoria may be the subject of a future recall effort, organizers said.