Group opposes his stance on 2 major issues
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 25, 2006 12:00 AM
Vice Mayor Doug Lingner could face a recall over his stances on a proposed South
Mountain Freeway alignment and higher-density housing in Laveen Village.
Last week, members of the South Laveen Against High Density group circulated
"Out With Lingner" fliers at Laveen's 54th annual Old Fashioned
Barbecue, which draws more than 3,000 people. The group's chief concerns are
Lingner's support of the proposed 55th Avenue freeway alignment and his backing
of building more homes per acre.
"We were taken aback by the amount of support to recall him," said
Dean Fairchild, a finance director and SLAHD spokesman. "People really want
to move quickly with this."
First elected in 1995,
Lingner represents District 7, which includes most of south and west Phoenix,
seven villages and about 160,000 residents. This is the second recall attempt
against the 44-year-old Lingner, who emerged victorious in a September 1997
Lingner said he was disappointed about the initial efforts to remove him.
"But I survived the last recall attempt, and if there's another recall
effort, I will work as hard as I can on that (re-election) campaign," he
said. "I've done a lot of good work on behalf of Laveen . . . where I'm
raising my family, including my grandson. So I'm not going to endorse anything
that would negatively impact my community."
The recall effort highlights the latest growing pains of a rural community
struggling to hold onto its agrarian lifestyle while it's experiencing explosive
growth and redevelopment, including higher-density housing.
Some Laveen residents support higher-density housing and welcome the freeway
alignment, which they say will relieve traffic and draw businesses to help
establish a thriving commercial core. But others fear losing their homes or
object to a busy freeway slicing through their rural community.
With about 10,000 residents, fast-growing Laveen extends from the Salt River to
the South Mountain Preserve between 27th and 75th avenues.
Those spearheading the
recall are in discussions about forming the political group needed to file a
recall application with the city and to circulate petitions seeking the 1,605
signatures required to force a recall election. No papers have been submitted.
According to SLAHD members, chief concerns include Lingner's track record of
voting for higher-density housing and an Oct. 14 letter Lingner sent to
residents in Estrella and Laveen encouraging them to back the 55th Avenue
In the letter, Lingner writes, "The major retailers and restaurants that
Laveen and Estrella residents need will not be possible unless the alignment is
Fairchild called the statement "disingenuous."
"Our swift growth is attracting retailers to Laveen, not the freeway,"
The 55th Avenue juncture, which would link Loop 202 to Interstate 10,
is one of three alignments considered by the Arizona Department of
Transportation. The other two options are connecting the nearly $1.1 billion
freeway at 71st Avenue or to Loop 101 near 99th Avenue. State officials say the
55th Avenue alignment would affect the least number of homes.
Last week, Lingner said he still believes that the 55th Avenue alignment is
critical to drawing retailers to Laveen. He said the city has spent millions of
dollars on planning and constructing streets and other infrastructure to feed
into the alignment, which twice has been endorsed by voters.
"This alignment has been on the books since the 1980s and supported through
two elections," Lingner said. "I've always felt we should live by
Most of the ill will between Lingner and SLAHD members stems from the group's
position that housing be limited to one home per acre, Lingner said.
Historically, swaths of Laveen have included homes on 1-acre lots. But more
developments are now approved for more homes per acre to accommodate growth and
rising infrastructure costs.
"It's not always about density," Lingner said. "Sometimes it's
about how do you pay for infrastructure and manage the growth that's just
If ultimately pursued, the recall process likely
would take about 300 days, which would leave Lingner to face re-election at the
tail end of his final four-year term. Term limits forbid council members to run
for more than three consecutive terms. The odds seem to be in Lingner's favor
because Phoenix has reported few successful recalls.
Still, late-term recall elections can happen, as in the case of Councilwoman
Frances Emma Barwood who in 1997 faced a recall election with three months left
on her term. Barwood won the election.
Lingner says he won't go down without a fight because he has a lot of work to
tackle in the next two years, such as zoning, development, transportation and