Loudoun County school board recall effort heads to court

Welcome to the Monday, September 13, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Hearing on Loudoun County school board recall effort set for Sept. 13
  2. Tomorrow’s California recall election
  3. Florida Realtors suspends initiative campaign following compromise with state legislators

Hearing on Loudoun County school board recall effort set for Sept. 13

Ballotpedia has tracked 64 school board recall efforts against 165 board members so far in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we have ever tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

One of those recall efforts this year is based out of Loudoun County, Virginia. Here’s an update.

On Aug. 25, opponents of Beth Barts submitted petition signatures to recall her from the Loudoun County School Board of Education. The show cause hearing on those petitions will take place on Sept. 13 (today).

In Virginia, recall efforts are determined in circuit court rather than at the ballot box. Virginia, which is the only state to use this court process, also requires certain criteria be met for a recall to move forward, including neglect of duty, misuse of office, incompetence, or conviction of misdemeanors related to drugs or hate crimes. Recall supporters must collect signatures ​​equal in number to 10% of the votes cast in the last election for that office. The recall effort against Barts needed 1,176 signatures. Recall supporters announced they had collected 1,860.

Barts’ attorney filed a motion to dismiss the petition against her since it was not signed by an attorney. He also asked the circuit court judges to recuse themselves from the case because it involved local officeholders.

Barts was first elected to a four-year term on the board on Nov. 5, 2019. She received 54.8% of the vote and defeated one other candidate. Though school board elections are nonpartisan, Barts is supported by the Loudoun County Democratic Committee.

Recall supporters are also circulating petitions against another six members of the nine-member school board. They said the board members’ involvement in a private Facebook group, where they discussed public matters in a private setting, was a violation of Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act and the school board’s Code of Conduct. Recall supporters also alleged that the district was using Critical Race Theory in its employee training and student curriculum, which they opposed.

Interim Superintendent Scott Ziegler said the district uses a Culturally Responsive Framework that “speaks to providing a welcoming, affirming environment and developing cultural competence through culturally responsive instruction, deeper learning, equitable classroom practices and social-emotional needs for a focus on the whole child.” Ziegler said the district did not use Critical Race Theory in its staff training or student curriculum.

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Tomorrow’s California recall election

California voters will head to the polls on Sept. 14 for the recall election seeking to remove California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D).

The recall election will present voters with two questions. The first will ask whether Newsom should be recalled from the office of governor. The second will ask who should succeed Newsom if he is recalled. A majority vote is required on the first question for the governor to be recalled. If Newsom is recalled, the candidate with the most votes on the second question would win the election—no majority required.

Polling places across the state will be open for in-person voting or ballot drop-off from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. These polling places also allow for same-day voter registration.

All registered voters in the state were previously sent a vote-by-mail ballot in August. Those mail ballots must be postmarked by Sept. 14 to be counted. California voters can click here to find their polling place.

Forty-six candidates, including nine Democrats and 24 Republicans, are running in the election. Since 1911, there have been 55 attempts to recall a California governor. The only successful recall campaign was in 2003 when voters recalled then-Gov. Gray Davis (D). Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) was elected as Davis’ replacement.

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Florida Realtors suspends initiative campaign following compromise with state legislators

On September 7, 2021, Floridians for Housing, a ballot initiative committee sponsored by Florida Realtors, announced they were suspending their ballot initiative campaign. The initiative would have created state and local government housing trust funds for “affordable housing access and availability, including funding of programs addressing new construction, down payment and closing cost assistance, rehabilitation, and financing for affordable housing development.” 

As of Sept. 8, the group had submitted 65,018 valid signatures. To qualify for the ballot, sponsors would have needed to submit 891,589 valid signatures by February 1, 2022. 

Florida Realtors President Cheryl Lambert said, “The legislative leadership has committed to working with us to find significant, immediate solutions to Florida’s workforce housing crisis. This crisis cannot wait. Every day, we hear about workers who are bearing the brunt of the pandemic who can’t afford a home. This approach will help bring homeownership within reach of Floridians much faster.” Florida Realtors had contributed at least $13 million to the ballot initiative committee.

Ballotpedia is tracking 24 potential initiatives targeting Florida’s 2022 ballot. As of Sept. 8, seven of the initiative campaigns had zero valid signatures submitted. For the other 17 campaigns, the number of valid signatures on file ranged from two to 9,347. That top figure came from Florida Voters in Charge, the sponsor of an initiative to expand casino gaming in Florida.

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