Organizer: Petition drive to recall Mayor Gates off to good start

Tanya Smith works on effort to recall Mayor Monica Gates.

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Tanya Smith works on effort to recall Mayor Monica Gates.

KINGMAN – Tanya Smith was one of Monica Gates’ biggest supporters when the mayor defeated Richard Anderson in the fall of 2016. Just eight months into Gates’ second term as mayor (June 2006 – June 2008 was the first), Smith has had a change of heart.

“I supported her. I endorsed her,” Smith said. “I was one of her biggest champions.”

Smith has charged Gates with misappropriation of funds when Bill Pupo was hired as mediator/facilitator for the Kingman Airport Authority – Kingman City Council series of workshops. The series was halted by the KAA after three of the four scheduled workshops were held.

She also states on her petition that Gates violated the public’s trust, spent taxpayer money “to give backroom deals to personal friends without council approval or even knowledge.” Smith also alleges that Gates threatened “the security and well-being of citizens (by) wanting to declare their home and neighborhoods as slums in order to give KRMC a deal with regards to Kingman Crossing.”

Gates was not interested in taking on Smith’s grounds for the recall point by point.

“I am appalled and dismayed by these preposterous allegations made by those who do not share a reasoned approach to the issues facing Kingman,” the mayor wrote in an email to the Daily Miner. “There is absolutely no truth to any of these outrageous accusations. I am not going to dignify this nonsense with further response.”

Smith said on Saturday that as far as she understood, the City Council still had not received any information regarding Pupo’s hiring. The city and KAA agreed to split Pupo’s fees, but council wasn’t given the amount the city was supposed to pay.

Smith also listed the number of years Gates and Pupo have known each other as reasons for Gates getting Pupo not only the KAA contract, but Pupo has also been designated by the Kingman Crossing subcommittee that Gates is leading as a service provider to the committee.

Gates told the Daily Miner in a previous interview that she met Pupo years ago during her first term as mayor. She hadn’t had contact with him until this year when he expressed he had experience facilitating and could help out the city’s KAA situation. When Kingman Crossing came up in discussions, Pupo told the mayor he knew of a law firm that could deal with the transactions the city would be needing.

Smith appeared at the City Council Aug. 15 and informed the council, including Mayor Gates, she had officially registered a Statement of Organization to recall Gates with the state.

“I wanted to make sure it was on public record,” Smith said about making the announcement at the Call to the Public segment of the meeting. “I wanted the public to know.”

Smith said Gates broke campaign promises about the Kingman Airport Authority.

“She was in favor of bringing it back under the control of the city when she was running,” Smith said. “Now that she’s been elected, she seems to be protecting the KAA.”

KRMC has offered to build the Interstate 40 interchange at Kingman Crossing for the city in exchange for the city-owned land on the south side of I-40 there, a portion of future sales tax dollars from the development and a plan that would give KRMC additional tax incentives by labeling the area a redevelopment area.

“This is where you mix in Kingman Crossing and her secret meetings with the hospital,” Smith said.

Smith and her organization, KARMMA (Kingman Association to Recall Mayor Monica Gates), must gather 2,683 signatures by Dec. 13 to put the recall question on a ballot. Smith said in the first week they nearly had 10 percent of the requirement.

“We’re just getting started,” she said, “but I would like to wrap this up pretty quickly.”