Camp Verde Vice Mayor Bruce George resigned this month to avoid having the town pay for a recall election in March, but that election is still on the table following a judge's order.
Now George has changed his mind and has rescinded his resignation.
George had been the focus of a recall effort spearheaded by local resident Cheri Wischmeyer and a political committee called Camp Verde for Good Government.
George was initially targeted along with councilwomen Robin Whatley and Jessie Jones-Murdock after they voted to increase the town’s sales tax by 0.65 percent in January.
Mayor Charlie German had initially been considered for a recall effort, but organizers decided against it because recalling a mayor requires more signatures than other members of the Town Council.
The petitions to recall Whatley and Jones-Murdock were found not to have collected enough valid signatures, leaving George as the only council member who would be on the ballot for the recall election.
Later, it was found that the petitions used to collect signatures, which had been provided by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, were not updated to reflect the latest changes in state election law.
Based on this information, the Town Council then voted to cancel the recall election.
Wischmeyer and Camp Verde for Good Government took the town to court, arguing that the cancellation was illegal.
Yavapai County Superior Court Judge David Mackey agreed, ordering that the recall election go forward.
Mackey’s order was issued Nov. 5; George resigned Nov. 9.
Another order was issued by the court Friday, Nov. 13, stating that under state law, it was too late for George’s resignation to cancel the recall effort. The election is set for March 8.
While George wanted to save the town the $30,000 the recall election is expected to cost, the judge’s decision made that a moot point.
George rescinded his resignation Sunday, Nov. 15.
“I believe the judge is in error regarding his ruling that the recall election can’t be canceled if there is no councilman named Bruce M. George on council and the deposition states that in the title,” George wrote. “But in order to cause less turmoil in council and to stop more attorney’s fees I have asked our attorneys not to appeal his ruling and we will go forward with the recall election.”
Camp Verde Town Clerk Virginia Jones said that the town’s attorneys have been working with the court to outline the next steps.
Originally, the Town Council had planned to accept George’s resignation and move forward with trying to fill his vacant seat at its meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 18.
Typically, the Town Council would start accepting letters from people interested in filling out the rest of George’s term.
Those matters have been removed from the agenda and replaced with a possible executive session so that the Town Council can discuss legal matters concerning the status of the recall election with attorneys Bill Sims and Jeff Murray.
Wischmeyer said she was surprised when she learned of George’s resignation.
“I thought he was going to fight it,” Wischmeyer said, adding she had been pleased with George’s initial decision to resign.
George originally was going to fight it before the recall was canceled by the Town Council.
“I didn’t do anything wrong,” George said.
Wischmeyer said that voting to raise the sales tax was a way of keeping the matter out of the hands of voters, who had earlier rejected a tax increase at the polls.