Two school board members recalled in West Bonner County School District, Idaho

Welcome to the Thursday, August 31, 2023, Brew. 

By: Juan Garcia de Paredes

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Two school board members recalled in West Bonner County School District, Idaho
  2. Fewest number of incumbents running for this cycle’s state executive official elections since 2011
  3. On the Ballot turns one; plus, an update on school board endorsements with Ballotpedia Staff Writer Doug Kronaizl

Two school board members recalled in West Bonner County School District, Idaho

On Aug. 29, voters in the West Bonner County School District in Idaho recalled two school board members—Zone 4 Representative Keith Rutledge and Zone 2 Representative Susan Brown. Rutledge was the board’s chairman and Brown was vice chairman. 

Unofficial results from the Bonner County Elections Department showed a 63-37% majority voted in favor of recalling Rutledge, and a 66-34% majority voted in favor of recalling Brown. A majority of voters had to cast ballots in favor of each recall for them to be successful. 

Due to a unique provision in Idaho law, a second condition had to be met for the two members to be recalled: the number of yes votes cast against each member had to be higher than the number of votes cast in favor of that member in the last election. 

At least 245 votes were needed against Rutledge for the recall to be successful, and at least 177 were needed against Brown. Unofficial results showed 762 voters cast their ballots in favor of recalling Rutledge, and 624 voters cast theirs in favor of recalling Brown.

Following Idaho law, the remaining members of the five-member board will have 120 days to appoint replacements to fill the vacancies. After 120 days, the county commissioners can fill them. The appointees will serve out the remainder of the terms, which expire in January 2026.

Here’s some background:

  • Brown and Rutledge were first elected to the board in 2021. In June 2022, the board unanimously approved an English Language Arts curriculum from McGraw-Hill. 
  • On Aug. 24, 2022, the school board voted 3-1 to rescind the curriculum because of concerns about social-emotional learning. Brown and Rutledge voted to rescind.
  • In June 2023, community members led by the group Recall, Replace, Rebuild, a local political action committee, launched the effort to recall Brown and Rutledge. Recall supporters had to collect 243 signatures against Rutledge and 180 against Brown to get the recall on the ballot. 
  • On June 30, Bonner County Clerk Michael Rosedale announced the supporters had gathered 337 verified signatures against Rutledge and 243 against Brown, allowing the recall elections to be scheduled.

The petitions against Rutledge and Brown said their vote to rescind the curriculum cost the district money because it had to pay to send the curriculum materials back. The petition also said the two board members didn’t respect the rights of constituents and the views of other board members.

In their official responses, Rutledge and Brown said recall supporters wanted to prevent “the whole country from seeing how a conservative led school district can improve poor educational outcomes and give our children a better chance at actual success.” They also said supporters wanted “to continue with failed tax and spend policies.”

Rutledge and Brown are the fifth and sixth school board members recalled this year. From 2009-2022, an average of 10 school board members were recalled each year.

Idaho is one of 39 states that allow for the recall of local elected officials. Twenty-seven of those states, including Idaho, do not require specific grounds for recalls to reach the ballot. The 12 other states that allow recalls require specific grounds to be met, such as malfeasance, misconduct, or neglect of duty.

Idaho is also one of nine states that have pre-petition signature requirements. Before supporters can circulate a recall petition, they must file a copy of the petition signed by 20 electors with the appropriate election office (the county clerk’s office, in the case of the West Bonner school district recall). Those signatures are required in addition to recall petition signatures. They are not counted toward the number of signatures required to put a recall election on the ballot.  

Once the appropriate election office approves the petitions for circulation, recall supporters have 75 days to collect signatures equal to 20% of registered voters at the last regular election for the office.

In addition to the West Bonner school board recall, Ballotpedia reported on one other recall in Idaho this year. That effort—against Horseshoe Bend City Councilman Curtis Corvinus—did not go to a vote as Corvinus pled guilty to felony grand theft and was removed from office.

So far this year, Ballotpedia has identified 219 recall efforts against 325 officials. The efforts against 37 of those officials appeared on the ballot, and 28 were successfully recalled. Recall elections against another 31 officials will occur later this year.

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Fewest number of incumbents running for this cycle’s state executive official elections since 2011 

Twenty incumbents are running in this year’s 36 state executive elections, the fewest in the past four cycles for these offices. 

These 36 executive positions span three states—Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi—and are up for election every four years in the year before a presidential election.

The number of incumbents running for re-election for these offices has declined each cycle since 2011, when 27 incumbents ran for the same 36 positions.

Of the 36 state executive offices up for election this year, seven are in Kentucky, 15 are in Louisiana, and 14 are in Mississippi. The offices up for election include:

  • Governor (all three states)
  • Lieutenant governor (all three states)
  • Attorney general (all three states)
  • Secretary of state (all three states)
  • State treasurer (all three states)
  • Agriculture commissioner (all three states)
  • State auditor (Kentucky, Mississippi)
  • Insurance commissioner (Louisiana, Mississippi)
  • Public service commissioner (three in Mississippi, elected by district)
  • Transportation commissioner (three in Mississippi, elected by district)
  • State board of education (eight in Louisiana, elected by district)

This year, three officials in Kentucky are term limited. In Louisiana, four officials—including incumbent governor John Bel Edwards (D)—are term limited. No Mississippi officials are term limited this year. 

Kentucky limits all state executives to two terms in office. Louisiana limits the governor and members of the state board of education to two terms but has no term limits for any other state executive office. Mississippi has a two-term limit for governor and lieutenant governor.

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On the Ballot turns one; plus, an update on school board endorsements with Ballotpedia Staff Writer Doug Kronaizl

On the Ballot, Ballotpedia’s weekly podcast, turns one tomorrow. 

We launched On the Ballot on Sept. 1, 2022—almost exactly one year ago. Since then, we’ve covered a range of topics, from the 2022 mid-term elections to third-party ballot access to the first 2024 presidential debate. To celebrate the podcast’s first anniversary, we decided to highlight some of our listeners’ favorite episodes: 

As we move into the podcast’s second year, who better to kick us off than our very own Doug Kronaizl? As regular listeners know, Doug has been a frequent guest on the podcast during its first year, and he dropped by to give our audience the latest on our school board election coverage.

In the episode, Doug takes an in-depth look into recent school board elections in South Dakota—one of 10 states where Ballotpedia is comprehensively covering every school board election this year. Doug also talks about what goes into our efforts to cover these elections, and gives us a look ahead at plans for upcoming school board elections this November.

Want to learn more? Tune in! And to our regular listeners, thank you for your support over the past year. Our dedicated team works hard to bridge the gap between politics and people, offering unbiased, nonpartisan, and trustworthy information about our government. Your trust in our content means the world to us.

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