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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

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12/9/2010 10:03:00 PM
Ousted mayor enjoys mountain biking, retirement lifestyle
Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier
Former Prescott Valley Mayor Rick Killingsworth is trying to improve his health after having heart 
surgery. He said he rides his mountain bike four to five miles a day, resting only one day a week.
Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier
Former Prescott Valley Mayor Rick Killingsworth is trying to improve his health after having heart surgery. He said he rides his mountain bike four to five miles a day, resting only one day a week.

Ken Hedler
The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT VALLEY - Voters ousted Mayor Rick Killingsworth and Vice Mayor Jay Fagelman in a recall election in November 2004, ending 18.5 years of service for Killingsworth on the council, including eight years as mayor.

Killingsworth, 62, retreated to private life after the recall. He moved a year later to Dewey-Humboldt to live with his widowed brother, and an old friend and his wife.

He said heart problems prompted him to retire from his job as maintenance manager at the Yavapai County Fairgrounds - his employer for seven years - in 2008.

"I had a stent put in," Killingsworth said. "I was looking at wanting to slow down. I was working 80 hours a week."

Since then, Killingsworth has gone on a health kick.

He rides a mountain bike four to five miles a day six days a week, hikes, and goes deer hunting. Divorced, he considers daughters Shawn and Meghan and his six grandchildren the most important aspects of his life.

While he has retreated from the limelight, he said he has "constant communications" with Councilman Mike Flannery, and stays in touch with other council members and Town Manager Larry Tarkowski.

His morning bike rides take him on occasion around the Civic Center. Town employees greeted Killingsworth this past week on the third floor of the building, where his portrait and that of other mayors are on display.

"I have not seen you in a while," Building Official Woody Lewis told Killingsworth.

Killingsworth said he had no regrets over making difficult decisions that preceded the successful recall campaign, which swept Harvey Skoog back to the mayor's seat and Tom Steele onto the council.

The recall drive started after the council asked then-Town Manager Tony Mortillaro to resign. A former town employee loyal to Mortillaro responded by spearheading the drive to recall Killingsworth and Fagelman.

Mortillaro did not follow the council's direction nor work well with developers, Killingsworth said. Mortillaro is now county administrator in Los Alamos County, N.M.

Killingsworth said recall backers used his personal bankruptcy against him, a view that Flannery shares. Flannery noted both Killingsworth and Fagelman went through divorces and bankruptcies at the time.

"My thought was then and it still is I think that (for) Rick and Jay it had more to do with their personal lives than their function as an elected official," said Flannery, who has served on the council since 1998 but is now not seeking re-election. "Quite frankly, I don't think they did anything in their duties as mayor and vice mayor to warrant being recalled."

Killingsworth's personality and style apparently turned off Steele, who lost to Harold Wise in the 2005 council election.

"The only thing I remember about him in office is he dressed rather casually," Steele said. "He showed up with flip-flops on" and a T-shirt.

Steele said the council improved after he and Skoog - no ally of Steele - arrived.

"I think it made everybody working for the town sit a little straighter in their chairs," Steele said. "Senior staff and elected officials are more in tune with the public."

Steele contrasted the styles of Killingsworth and Skoog.

"Rick Killingsworth would just scold people who came up (to the podium) with public comments," Steele said. "Harvey has tremendous strength of character to sit up there and smile."

Killingsworth acknowledges being "a little bitter" at Skoog - his predecessor and successor as mayor - for jumping on the recall bandwagon "and putting his name to all the lies that Tom (Steele) and his group brought about."

However, the former and current mayors now maintain cordial relations, and speak to each other on occasion.

Skoog, who has heart problems of his own, commented, "It is a good thing he rides his bike. He is a good guy. He has not offered me any advice. I talked to him some weeks ago - just casual business."

Killingsworth said he accepted the will of the voters in 2004, and was not planning to run for re-election a year later. However, he considered running for Yavapai County supervisor or the state Legislature before the recall dashed any political ambitions.

He said he is proud of presiding over the largest sewer project in the state, and becoming the first municipality in the tri-city area to drill 900 feet and deeper for water.

However, what he considers to be his biggest accomplishments may seem small in comparison: "unity of the council" and assembling a staff that works well with the council.

He offered advice to the candidates who are running for four seats on the council in the March 8 election. The council will have at least two new members next June because Flannery and Fran Schumacher are not running for re-election.

"If I had advice, I'd go back to the major accomplishments," Killingsworth said. "One of them was staff. We were so ingrained in doing things that were good for the people and not based on what one individual can attain for themselves."

Related Stories:
• Friday Catchall: Former PV official gets the boot - again

Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Article comment by: Jorge Fingelstein

Tony Mortillaro was terminated without cause as County Administrator of Los Alamos last night.

You can read the Los Alamos Monitor for details (online). www.lamonitor.com

Posted: Saturday, December 11, 2010
Article comment by: Scotty G.

A page full of Nattering Nabobs and only 4 new people have the guts to run for the PV Town Council. Thanks to Mr. Steele and his Army of Insulters, nobody wants to put up with that kind enviroment. Only 4 new people running for council... let the name calling begin... maybe next time nobody will run.

Posted: Saturday, December 11, 2010
Article comment by: gail court

To all of you that think our town is doing so good why don't you mention how little of the $22 million in reserves are gone. I remember Lora Lee saying that money was for the people of pv in case of an emergency. There have been no emergencies but little by little it get's drawn from. Prison patty says there never was $22 mil. Who is telling the truth?
When my friend ran during the last election she said the 5% cut was not going to work. Now there are rumors of a pv property tax. Why did we pay fains share of the bond payment on the event center? Was it so they could buy a new toy.....the sundogs? This paper took the story out early but I saved it for election fodder.
Maybe we see another recall and a need to replace fains town manager.

Posted: Saturday, December 11, 2010
Article comment by: How True

'The good ole boys" world is starting to crumble and the rats are jumping ship. Unfortunately the rest of us will pick up the check! Oh by the way where are those $15 hr jobs that the town council promised the areana would bring to the community? Not only did that not happen and now it's almost bankrupt. Way to go P.V. & Fain family!!

Posted: Saturday, December 11, 2010
Article comment by: To Debt

To "Town of PV is saddled with Debt", the Town is down over 15% in staff and hasn't hired anyone in over 3 years because of their hiring freeze. They are less in debt now than they were 2 years ago and this year even paid off early some water bonds.

Posted: Friday, December 10, 2010
Article comment by: Kim Jady

I was considering this town for retirement in a year. It sounds like this local government operates much like the overspent municipalities in Minnesota. South Dakota is looking good.

Posted: Friday, December 10, 2010
Article comment by: Town of PV is saddled with Debt

It is interesting that the other long serving council members are hitting the bricks before the debt hits the fan. Why has this town not cut the number of employees, starting with things like parks and rec, dog park artificial turf, $140,000 salary to Town Mgr who got us here, etc,

Posted: Friday, December 10, 2010
Article comment by: Let's bring them back?

They can show us how to file Bankruptcy on the $32 million we owe on The Arena, the $16 million on the library, and get us out of the $75 million the council committed us to, on the water pipeline. The current budget is a $2 million deficit for the year. Does anyone think next year will be different?

Posted: Friday, December 10, 2010
Article comment by: Central AZ Dweller

A nice update. The town moved so far ahead under Rick and Jay's leadership. No offense to Mayor Skoog, but we would even further ahead today if we had Rick & Jay leading the town. And Tom Steele? Hmm, his term lasted a couple of months and then after watching his negativity, voters didn't want him back. Wonder if we can send Tom Steele to Los Alamos County, too?

Posted: Friday, December 10, 2010
Article comment by: Fed Up

What a complete waste of good editorial space. We ousted the Mayor and Vice Mayor for very good reasons. Don't blame Tom Steele, and the very least he speaks with straight tongue.

Posted: Friday, December 10, 2010
Article comment by: Tom Steele

A fair and basically true story. Except Killingsworth and the reporter left out the fact both he and Fagelman falsified their annual reports on their financial dealings. Killingsworth also ignored the law in contacting council members until he had enough votes to remove Tony from the town manager position. And perhaps, the fact he approved the wonderful investment in the fairgrounds where he acquired a paid position a little later. Good health to Rick but he was a poor mayor for most of the towns residents.

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