Fountain Hills voters tossed out a mayor and rejected a property tax Tuesday.
Angered by incumbent Mayor Jon Beydler, voters shot challenger Wally Nichols into office with 3,265 ballots, or 65 percent, cast in his favor. Beydler limped in behind with 1,729 votes, or 34.5 percent.
Resident Cindy Bonomolo, who spearheaded the recall, said she was celebrating with a house full of Beydler opponents. The people “know who he is, they know what he’s done, and they’ve spoken,” she said.
Bonomolo launched the recall effort after allegations that the mayor submitted a faulty financial disclosure statement when he ran for office. Many in Fountain Hills also said they disliked Beydler’s combative relationship with council members, calling him “a lightning rod for controversy.”
Nichols said he was ecstatic. “When we heard the news, everyone just broke out in loud cheers,” he said. Asked to point out the reason for his 2-to-1 margin of victory, he said: “Character counts. People realized what my character was all about, and that’s what they were looking at.”
Beydler declined to make a statement Tuesday night, saying he will comment today. The recall election cost the cash-strapped town between $12,000 and $15,000, according to officials. Voters also soundly rejected the first property tax proposed for the town. Proposition 400 was defeated by 3,065 votes, or 61.5 percent, to 1,912 votes, or 38 percent.
The defeat leaves two-thirds of the town’s upcoming 2003-04 budget dependent on sales tax revenue in a shaky economy, according to officials.
“While the town feels that voters understood the proposition, we are concerned that the lack of a primary property tax to fund fire and (emergency) services may have a volatile impact on the town’s long-term financial picture,”
Town Manager Tim Pickering said by e-mail. “This ‘no’ vote ultimately will have a negative impact on the town’s . . . bond rating and the town’s ability to fund its operation and expansion in the long run.”