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Sedona City Council Addresses ADOT Board

Michael Ward, Sedona City Councilor

Sedona AZ (May 20, 2011)–On Friday, May 20, 2011, Sedona City Councilor Mike Ward attended the State Transportation Board meeting in Flagstaff. At their regular City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 10, 2011, the Sedona City Council approved that Ward attend to request ADOT delay any actions with respect to SR 89A Turnback until the conclusion of Sedona’s November 8, 2011 referendum election. In addition, the City Council approved that Ward’s presentation be focused on the important right of the citizens to vote. 

At the ADOT Board meeting, Councilor Ward stated, “We are requesting that ADOT extend the deadline of the Route Transfer Agreement to December 15, 2011. We ask for this delay because a group of voters has filed a legal petition calling for a referendum on the Council’s decision to accept the transfer. Until the election the City cannot take action on the issue.” 

In addition, Ward said, “Our City stands ready and willing to do whatever is legally possible in order to alleviate your concerns about deferring this matter until after the referendum election in November. Please give us the opportunity to reach a final resolution of this issue that meets our mutual goals and aspirations while at the same time respecting the legal right of the citizens of Sedona to give their final say at the ballot box.”

Read Ward’s complete address here: 

Mr. Chairman, members of the Board, thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak to you today. I am Mike Ward of Sedona, Arizona. I am a member of the Sedona City Council and have been selected by the City Council to speak on its behalf.

We are requesting that ADOT extend the deadline of the Route Transfer Agreement to December 15, 2011. We ask for this delay because a group of voters has filed a legal petition calling for a referendum on the Council’s decision to accept the transfer.  Until the election the city cannot take action on the issue. 

As a State Board of Transportation, you have exclusive control over the State’s highways, including those highways within Sedona’s city limits. We recognize that you have a duty to insure that these roadways are safe and that for the past few years you have attempted to fulfill that duty with respect to proposed improvements of Hwy 89A.  While we have disagreed on how to go about improving this roadway, it was our sincere hope, as it was surely yours, that by entering the route transfer agreement, our differences would be resolved and that you could transfer control of this roadway to the City to allow us to put in our desired safety improvements.  

Our State Constitution guarantees the right of the citizens to appeal legislative actions of their elected councils by referring the Council’s decision directly to the voters. 

Exercising their rights, a group of Sedona voters successfully met all of the legal requirements in petitioning for a referendum vote to either affirm or reverse the council’s decision on the route transfer. Yavapai and Coconino counties have certified the petitions which contain 14% of the registered voters in Sedona who may or may not represent the opinion of the majority. County and state election rules determined the earliest election date possible as November 8, 2011. 

While the City would like to immediately assume full ownership and control of this roadway, the pending referendum makes that legally impossible.   This citizen referendum has put both the city and ADOT in a difficult situation. 

We humbly appeal on behalf of the voters of Sedona, that you defer action to opt out of the transfer agreement until after the November 8th referendum election to allow the voters to exercise their constitutional right to decide this important community issue. 

I also appeal to the state board’s self interest.  It is clear through your good faith and flexibility during our negotiations over the last nine months that you are very much interested in divesting yourself of the urban highway corridor through West Sedona. Our negotiations demonstrate that ADOT and the City of Sedona do have the ability to work together on difficult issues as evidenced by the award-winning transformation of Highway 179.  Neither process has been easy.  The difference between having a similar success with Hwy 89A depends on your continued patience and forbearance for another 6 months.  

We have both come too far to give up now.  This negotiated Transfer Agreement may be our last opportunity to accomplish our mutual goals of city ownership and roadway safety improvements that are in conformity with the desires of the Community. 

Our City stands ready and willing to do whatever is legally possible in order to alleviate your concerns about deferring this matter until after the referendum election in November.  Please give us the opportunity to reach a final resolution of this issue that meets our mutual goals and aspirations while at the same time respecting the legal right of the citizens of Sedona to give their final say at the ballot box.  

Again, thank you for the opportunity to address you in behalf of the Sedona City Council.

13 Comments

  1. LTPV89A former Mayor Pud Colquitt Delivers Reply says:

    On Friday, May 20, 2011, Let The People Vote on 89A (LTPV89A) urged the Arizona State Transportation Board to move ahead with their decision to install dark sky compliant lighting and other safety measures on Hwy 89A in Sedona. The statement to the Board was delivered by former Mayor Pud Colquitt on behalf of the Chair of LTPV89, Sheri Graham, who was not able to attend due to a family emergency.

    The grass roots group (LTPV89A) of local citizens filed as a political committee with the City on March 8, 2011 and organized a Referendum and Initiative petition drive to overturn the February 22, 2011 decision of the Sedona City Council to take ownership of Hwy 89A through a Route Transfer Agreement.

    Let The People Vote on 89A pointed out to the ADOT Board that 963 signatures were legally certified by the Coconino and Yavapai County Recorders and the Sedona City Clerk and now LTPV is awaiting an election date to be announced by the Sedona City Council since they refused to set that date at their most recent May public meeting.

    The statement from LTPV said, “Our goal has always been a public vote to overturn the decision of the Sedona City Council to take ownership of Hwy 89A.” Committee member, Dr. Serge Wright commented; “It is just plain crazy for a city of 11,000 residents to take over 5 miles of a 5 lane wide major State highway that is owned and maintained by the State and its 6.5 million residents.”

    Chairwoman Sheri Graham added, “ADOT has been diligently working with our City since 2006 to address the City’s request relating to safety issues and night time fatalities on Hwy 89A. Since that time our City Councils have voted, on three separate occasions, in support of the lighting and safety projects proposed by the State. We, LTPV, told ADOT we believe it is time for them to move ahead and install the lights.” Graham concluded, ” And, Let The People Vote on 89A plans to proceed with what we know will be a significant victory in the Referendum Election. If ADOT moves ahead with lights and other safety improvements this year, it might look like the citizen’s votes would seem to be symbolic. Arizona Revised Statutes declares the opposite – citizens have the Constitutional right of voicing their opinions through their vote. No vote is symbolic…our votes have meaning. And, that is what the citizens of Sedona want. LTPV submitted the needed amount of signatures for an additional Special Ballot vote, a couple of weeks ago, that when certified, will require the City to get a complete and fully vested, guaranteed and secured plan for our citizens to vote on prior to us owning 89A . The registered voters who signed both Referendum and Initiative petitions only want to send a powerful message to our City Council that our Referendum and Initiative Petitions do, in fact, speak for the citizens.”

    Sheri Graham
    Chair of LTPV
    sheri@sedona.net

  2. Shannon says:

    Mr. Ward states: “This citizen referendum has put both the city and ADOT in a difficult situation.” Realistically, Sir, isn’t it the four members of the Sedona City Council who created the chaos? Why in the world would four individuals opt to make a decision of this magnitude in the first place? Clearly it was their action which sent the message to Sedona citizens, all of them, that manipulating poll results didn’t sit well and we aren’t as uneducated as they had hoped.

  3. Vincent says:

    What is crazy is that 14% of Sedona’s population intends to cheat the majority of its residents out of a vote.

  4. Samantha Ruckman says:

    “it might look like the citizen’s votes would seem to be symbolic. Arizona Revised Statutes declares the opposite – citizens have the Constitutional right of voicing their opinions through their vote. No vote is symbolic…our votes have meaning. And, that is what the citizens of Sedona want.”

    Methinks you protest too much. If ADOT proceeds with their own plan, the referendum votes WILL have zero meaning. If the meaning of a vote is simply to express an opinion, as you say, maybe your group could have found a way to allow people to do that without costing the city 25K for a referendum vote where the votes will merely be opinions after the fact.

  5. Mike Schroeder says:

    A response to Ms. Graham:

    In all due respect, a vote by the public where the outcome is predetermined has no meaning, and is not symbolic. The number of people who will not waste their time on voting for a meaningless result is undeterminable making any referendum a joke. And to think anything different is to insult the intelligence of every registered voter in Sedona or any other community where such a sham is portrayed. Votes either count for something or they do not. That’s the way it has always worked in this country. Elections have consequences – and when there are no consequences there are no elections.

  6. Peggy Chaikin says:

    I say the “Let the People Vote” faction should respect the vote that turned those who advocated for continuous lighting out of office.
    That vote was the REAL THING. Live with it.

  7. Juliette Colangelo says:

    Those who believe that voting in this upcoming referendum is meaningful because it expresses their opinions, might want to consider moving to Iran or a similarly governed country, where citizens vote, thereby expressing opinions, and, at the same time, have absolutely no say in the actuality of their government’s actions. Voting on the route transfer in Sedona, while the trenching machines are digging up 89A, would be as meaningful as voting in Iran.

  8. Eddie Maddock says:

    Reponse to Peggy Chaikin:

    As an avid supporter of the position the newly elected took relating to excessive lighting along the west corridor of SR89A, it had nothing to do with a proposal of either lights OR Sedona taking ownership of the State Route. Had that been the case, my support for the newly elected council members would have been diverted elsewhere. And that’s a fact. Therein lies my appreciation for the efforts of LTPV which has afforded this legitimate opportunity for a viable method of voting since the City Council opted to dismiss the results of their professional poll.

  9. Angela LeFevre says:

    I have been following this debate with utter bewilderment and amazement. I cannot believe that those who call themselves “LTPV” – Let the People Vote” – blatantly admit that they really could not care less whether the people vote or not! They assume, somewhat arrogantly, that they represent the majority of the registered voters in Sedona. How come these folks got voted out of office last year? They were able to get some 900 votes to “support” their petition. Let’s face it. Quite a few of those who signed the petition were doing it in support of a referendum on what is a very important issue here in Sedona. Some are in fact supportive of a route transfer, but signed because they agreed on the overall issue of democracy and the right to voice their opinion.

    These people have acted unethically, have purposely misled many of the people in Sedona, and, under the guise of “democracy” are actually subverting the democratic process.

    Yes, Let the People Vote in November and let’s see what kind of support these folks have!

  10. liz says:

    Boy O’ Boy the more things change the more they stay the same! Litrell and LeFevre will continue to demonize anyone that has a differing view then their own. Hopefully a new President of DORR will be able to rescue the organization much like Tom O’Halleran has done for KSB, a much beloved Sedona institution.

    Someone just reminded me what Litrell did to the last council that disagreed with her. I looked up the reports and they were right. Litrell stated in the press for six months that four council members had broke the laws of Arizona, sent multiple complaints to the Attorney General, after much tax payer dollars were spent the Attorney General declared no credible evidence, in fact no evidence at all! No witnesses, no paper trail, nothing! When pressed by the AG Litrell admitted she had filed report based on a third party rumor. Wow, talk about willing to do whatever it takes to take down your opposition!

    They (city council) set in motion through their campaign pledge to listen and follow the will of the people. In office they choose to believe the DORR and Sedona Biz Survey over the city paid professional Survey.

    Residents of Sedona – Your Voice and Will cannot be ignored forever! We must continue to demand an ethical city council, no more misinformation and lies, we are done! We have little power to deal with the unethical behavior of our national and state politicians but we sure have the power to demand ethical behavior from our local elected officials.

  11. JP says:

    This is getting good now. Once the City of Sedona actually owns the State Route 89A and the redesign process begins, is that the point at which they’ll drop the bomb about their plans for “alternate routes” on the south side of the highway? The extension of Mormon Hill Rd. through Rolling Hills and on down plus some convoluted scheme to create a thoroughfare via Panorama were already addressed on a low key basis at recent budget meetings.

    How much support will those of you living on the south side of the highway get from your neighbors to the north when the sanctity of your neighborhoods is disturbed by more traffic? By virtue of the plans for alternate parallel routes this city council has already admitted to more traffic on 89A than the city can handle. Ya ain’t seen nothing yet, folks! It will just get better and better.

  12. New Kid on the Block says:

    Moving to Sedona is what I thought would be my dream come true. It now appears to be the worst nightmare of my life. If City Council is planning on alternate direct routes thru our neighborhoods, what other tricks do you suppose they have up their sleeves? The fact that even one member of a city council would take sides and openly attack others who simply disagree with a major decision made by only FOUR citizens of this community is beyond comprehension. Also, I would like to know how many signatures on that on-line petition are qualified registered voters and not just people living in outlying areas who want for only Sedona residents to pay for improvements and maintenance to a State Highway? Not fair Ms. Litrell and cohorts!

  13. City Council Listening Session says:

    City Council Listening Session is scheduled for 6/8/2011 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM at Jordan Hall, 401 N State Route 89A, Sedona, Arizona 86336
    As part of the Sedona City Council’s ongoing communications efforts and community outreach, the third of the quarterly Neighborhood Listening sessions will take place on Wednesday, June 8, 2011 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Wayside Chapel, Jordan Hall, 401 North State Route 89A. This meeting will cover the Uptown area; however, all members of the public are welcome. The next Neighborhood meeting, date and location to be determined, will cover the geographical area of Rodeo Road to Bristlecone Pines.

    Come share your thoughts on issues related to the City of Sedona.

    For more information, contact the City Manager’s office at 204-7127.

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