Melanie Barrett and Joe Winfield

Oro Valley Mayor Joe Winfield, right, and Council member Melanie Barrett were the subject of a potential recall effort.

Last November, Mayor Joe Winfield and council member Melanie Barrett faced the beginnings of a recall election as a group of Oro Valley residents began collecting signatures to remove them from office. 

The effort was spurred by the council’s decision-making process on two key issues in the community: the town’s 36-hole golf course and the selection of the new Oro Valley Chief of Police.

Local Cañada Hills resident Tom Plantz filed recall petitions on Oct. 22. At the time, he claimed the two have “implemented policies that will likely result in a local property tax, degrade your public safety, decrease your property values and adversely harm town revenues,” according to the recall application.

But Winfield and Barrett are now safe from any substantial opposition. The recall supporters have halted their efforts after the golf course and police chief issues resulted in outcomes they found favorable. 

While Winfield and Barrett previously expressed interest in closing some or all of the golf holes, Winfield voted with the other council members on Oct. 2 to keep the 36 holes and community center, which need improvements that range from course irrigation to restaurant reconfiguration.

Additionally, on Feb. 5, the town council voted unanimously to appoint Oro Valley Commander Kara Riley as the successor to Chief Daniel Sharp.

“There’s still some issues, but generally speaking, the two critical issues have been the golf course and the appointment of the chief of police,” Plantz said last week. “Some of that caused rancor because there were some trust issues at play there.”

While Plantz and others are pleased with how the mayor and council ultimately voted, they still hold issues with the process. In the case of the police chief, the town hired Novak Consulting Group at the decision of a majority of council to conduct an internal/external candidate search. The cost of this search was significantly higher than an internal-only search, costing the town and taxpayers $24,900. 

“We felt (the recall) did have a desired effect," Platz said. "Whether that motivated the mayor and vice mayor in any way, I don’t know, but the good news is that some positive things came out of it, so we’re not proceeding any further with the recall effort.”

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