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Abbey Smith

Abbey Smith is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

3 Nebraska school board members keep seats in Jan. 11 recall elections

The Waverly and Leyton school districts in Nebraska held recall elections on Jan. 11 against a total of three school board members. A majority of voters cast ballots against all three recalls, keeping the board members in office.

Ward 4 representative Andy Grosshans was on the ballot in the Waverly School District 145. Recall supporters said they began the effort due to Grosshans’ vote to extend an emergency resolution giving the superintendent the power to “develop rules and regulations deemed necessary for the government and health of the district’s students and devise any means as may seem best to secure regular attendance and progress of students at school,” according to The Waverly News. The school board initially passed the emergency resolution in April 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In July 2021, the board voted to extend the resolution through the 2021-2022 school year.

In response to the recall effort, Grosshans said, “For 12+ years, I have worked hard to make well-informed decisions to provide the students of District 145 with a safe environment in which to receive an outstanding education. In these difficult times, I hope for continued understanding and patience as we use key resources and area experts to do what’s in the best interest of all students.”

Recall supporters had until Oct. 30 to collect 88 signatures to put the recall against Grosshans on the ballot. A total of 548 voters cast ballots against the recall, while 116 voted in favor.

Suzy Ernest and Roland Rushman were on the ballot in the Leyton school district. The recall petitions listed the district’s increased legal fees since January 2021 as reasons for the recall against both Ernest and Rushman. The petition against Ernest said she took action without the full board’s approval on two items: placing the superintendent on paid administrative leave and signing an acceptance for asbestos removal. The petition against Rushman said he failed to follow the Board Code of Ethics and slandered district administrators.

In response to the recall effort against her, Ernest said her action to place the superintendent on paid administrative leave was authorized in the superintendent’s contract. Both Ernest and Rushman said the decision to place the superintendent on paid administrative leave occurred after the board received serious complaints. They said those complaints were the reason behind the district’s increased legal fees. Ernest also said that she signed the acceptance for asbestos removal under the direction of the then-interim superintendent.

To get the recalls against Ernest and Rushman on the ballot, recall supporters had to collect 138 signatures for each member. A total of 246 voters cast ballots against recalling Ernest, while 196 voted in favor. In the recall election against Rushman, 264 voters voted against, and 179 voted in favor.

Ballotpedia tracked 91 school board recall efforts against 235 board members in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

In 2021, Ballotpedia covered a total of 346 recall efforts against 535 elected officials. This was the highest number of recall efforts and officials targeted since we started compiling data on recalls in 2012.

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Oregon school district to hold recall elections against two school board members Jan. 18

Recall elections against Dave Brown and Brian Shannon, the Zone 6 and 7 representatives on the Newberg School District school board in Oregon, respectively, are being held on Jan. 18. To get the recalls on the ballot, supporters had 90 days to collect signatures equal to 15% of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election in the board members’ respective zones

The recall effort against Shannon started after the board voted 4-3 on Aug. 10 to remove Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ pride flags in district schools. The ban also included political signs, clothing, and other items. Shannon wrote the motion for the ban and was joined in voting to approve it by Brown, Trevor DeHart, and Renee Powell. The board voted 4-3 on Sept. 28 to approve a policy banning all political symbols and images from schools. The same four members voted to approve the policy. In the same meeting, the board rescinded the previous policy that specifically mentioned Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ flags. The recall petitions said in part, “Brian Shannon has overreached, driving his ideological agenda in a manner that is both ethically and legally questionable. He does not represent the majority of us. Brian Shannon must be recalled.”

At the school board meeting on Sept 28, Shannon said, “This policy is so innocuous. It just says that teachers can’t display political symbols at work while they’re on school time. That should not be controversial.” He also said that the district needed to support all students. “It still goes back to the fact that we have a lot of kids that are impacted by this positively or negatively,” Brown said. “As a school board, it’s our job to make decisions that are going to be there for every single kid at Newberg High School, not just the kids that are represented in just one group – it has to be all kids.”

The effort to recall Brown began after the board voted 4-3 to fire Superintendent Joe Morelock without cause. Brown initiated the motion and voted in favor of firing Morelock. Morelock had been under contract through June 30, 2024. Recall supporters said the decision to fire Morelock “will cost the district hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

When asked about his decision to vote to fire Superintendent Joe Morelock, Brown talked about the number of students who were leaving the school district. “We’re well past 250 on our way to 300 students, minimum, and it’s growing,” Brown said. He said the district loses approximately $9,000 to $11,000 for each student who leaves. “For a lot of people who have left our school district – they’re a part of this bigger portion that doesn’t feel like they’re being listened to or talked to. And I feel like the culture is going to be the best thing for the student, staff member or parent,” Brown said.

Both Brown and Shannon were elected to the seven-member board in 2019.

Ballotpedia tracked 91 school board recall efforts against 235 board members in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

In 2021, Ballotpedia covered a total of 346 recall efforts against 535 elected officials. This was the highest number of recall efforts and officials targeted since we started compiling data on recalls in 2012.

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Two Nebraska school districts to hold recall elections Jan. 11

The Waverly and Leyton school districts in Nebraska are holding recall elections on Jan. 11 against a total of three school board members. Voters will be asked whether they are in favor of recalling the members from office with the option of voting yes or no.

Ward 4 representative Andy Grosshans is on the ballot in the Waverly school district. Recall supporters said they began the effort due to Grosshans’ vote to extend an emergency resolution giving the superintendent the power to “develop rules and regulations deemed necessary for the government and health of the district’s students and devise any means as may seem best to secure regular attendance and progress of students at school,” according to The Waverly News. The school board initially passed the emergency resolution in April 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In July 2021, the board voted to extend the resolution through the 2021-2022 school year.

In response to the recall effort, Grosshans said, “For 12+ years, I have worked hard to make well-informed decisions to provide the students of District 145 with a safe environment in which to receive an outstanding education. In these difficult times, I hope for continued understanding and patience as we use key resources and area experts to do what’s in the best interest of all students.”

Recall supporters had until Oct. 30 to collect 88 signatures to put the recall against Grosshans on the ballot.

Suzy Ernest and Roland Rushman are on the ballot in the Leyton school district. The recall petitions listed the district’s increased legal fees since January 2021 as reasons for the recall against both Ernest and Rushman. The petition against Ernest said she took action without the full board’s approval on two items: placing the superintendent on paid administrative leave and signing an acceptance for asbestos removal. The petition against Rushman said he failed to follow the Board Code of Ethics and slandered district administrators.

In response to the recall effort against her, Ernest said her action to place the superintendent on paid administrative leave was authorized in the superintendent’s contract. Both Ernest and Rushman said the decision to place the superintendent on paid administrative leave occurred after the board received serious complaints. They said those complaints were the reason behind the district’s increased legal fees. Ernest also said that she signed the acceptance for asbestos removal under the direction of the then-interim superintendent.

To get the recalls against Ernest and Rushman on the ballot, recall supporters had to collect 138 signatures for each member.

Ballotpedia tracked 90 school board recall efforts against 233 board members in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

In 2021, Ballotpedia covered a total of 339 recall efforts against 529 elected officials. This was the highest number of recall efforts and officials targeted since we started compiling data on recalls in 2012.

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Voters defeat Wisconsin school board recall, keep member on board

A recall election against Gary Mertig, one of the five members of the Butternut School District school board in Wisconsin, was on the ballot on December 14, 2021. Nate Pritzl filed to run against Mertig in the election. Mertig received 53.7% of the votes in the election, defeating Pritzl and retaining his seat.

Recall supporters said Mertig lied when he said community members would have input on the school district’s COVID-19 policies. Supporters said they were promised a meeting with all parties involved but that when the meeting was held, parents were not allowed to offer comments or ask questions.

Mertig said the community was allowed to speak at two out of the three meetings on the policies. The third meeting did not allow public comment because it was not listed on the agenda. “You have to be careful with the law. If it’s not on the agenda, you can’t talk about it,” Mertig said.

The recall petition required 126 signatures to be put on the ballot. It was signed by 130 residents of the district.

Mertig alleged that the way the recall signatures were collected violated state law. He submitted a letter to the Wisconsin Election Commission saying that at least eight residents who signed the recall were not witnessed by the petition circulator and that at least five people who signed were not residents of the school district. Mertig said those signatures should not have been counted, which would have stopped the recall election from being scheduled.

Wisconsin Election Commission Administrator Megan Wolf ruled that the recall election could proceed because Mertig did not file his complaints against the petition with the school district within the 10-day time period set by state law.

At the time the recall began, Mertig had been serving on the board for 31 years.

Ballotpedia has tracked 90 school board recall efforts against 233 board members so far in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we have tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

In our most recent recall report, which covered recalls from January to June 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 165 recall efforts against 263 officials. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

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Voters approve Nebraska county supervisor recall election

A recall election against Doris Karloff (R), District 2 representative of the seven-member Saunders County Board of Supervisors in Nebraska, was held on Dec. 14. A majority of voters cast ballots in favor of the recall to remove Karloff from office.

The recall effort was started by Rhonda Carritt, a resident of Wahoo, Nebraska, which is represented by Karloff on the county board of supervisors. Carritt said Karloff was not representing “the best interests of the district.” Carritt confirmed with the Wahoo Newspaper that the recall was related to a solar farm project in the county among other things.

Karloff’s son went into contract with the company starting the solar farm. Because of that connection, Karloff said she abstained from all discussions on the permit and did not vote on any actions related to the solar farm. “I have tried to do my best to make sure that I was doing everything legally correct,” Karloff said.

To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters had to collect 573 signatures in 30 days. Recall supporters submitted the signatures by the deadline, and the county verified 581 signatures, allowing the recall to be put on the ballot.

Karloff won re-election to a four-year term in the general election on Nov. 3, 2020. She defeated three other Republicans in the primary on May 12, and she ran uncontested in the general election.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 165 recall efforts against 263 officials. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

Additional reading:



Recall election to be held Dec. 14 against Wisconsin school board member

A recall election against Gary Mertig, one of the five members of the Butternut School District school board in Wisconsin, is on the ballot on Dec. 14. Nate Pritzl filed to run against Mertig in the election.

Recall supporters said Mertig lied when he said community members would have input on the school district’s COVID-19 policies. Supporters said they were promised a meeting with all parties involved but that when the meeting was held, parents were not allowed to offer comments or ask questions.

Mertig said the community was allowed to speak at two out of the three meetings on the policies. The third meeting did not allow public comment because it was not listed on the agenda. “You have to be careful with the law. If it’s not on the agenda, you can’t talk about it,” Mertig said.

The recall petition required 126 signatures to be put on the ballot. It was signed by 130 residents of the district.

Mertig alleged that the way the recall signatures were collected violated state law. He submitted a letter to the Wisconsin Election Commission saying that at least eight residents who signed the recall were not witnessed by the petition circulator and that at least five people who signed were not residents of the school district. Mertig said those signatures should not have been counted, which would have stopped the recall election from being scheduled.

Wisconsin Election Commission Administrator Megan Wolf ruled that the recall election could proceed because Mertig did not file his complaints against the petition with the school district within the 10-day time period set by state law.

At the time the recall began, Mertig had been serving on the board for 31 years.

Ballotpedia has tracked 90 school board recall efforts against 233 board members so far in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we have tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 165 recall efforts against 263 officials. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

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Kansas county commissioner recall election approved by voters

A recall election against Brian Kinzie (R), District Two representative on the Labette County Commission in Kansas, was held on Dec. 7. A majority of voters cast ballots in favor of the recall, removing Kinzie from office.

Voters were asked, “Shall Brian C. Kinzie be recalled from the office of 2nd District County Commissioner?” They had the option to vote yes or no. A total of 58.9% voted yes, according to unofficial election night results.

The recall effort started after Kinzie voted in April 2021 in favor of a motion to enter into final negotiations to allow a wind energy company to place 50 to 70 wind turbines in the county. The motion passed with a vote of 2-1. Recall supporters said they were concerned that Kinzie or his family stood to financially benefit from the deal. Kinzie said, “I’ve given this community 45 years of my life and I’ll continue to do so until there’s no fight left.”

Before recall petitions can be circulated in Kansas, a district attorney or county attorney must certify that it meets specific legal grounds. The petition against Kinzie was allowed to circulate due to misconduct. The Office of the Attorney General of Kansas found that Kinzie and fellow commissioner Cole Proehl violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act when they discussed county business on a phone call outside of a public commission meeting. The attorney general’s office did not file formal charges against Kinzie and Proehl. Instead, they were required to take a refresher course on public meeting compliance.

To get the recall on the ballot, supporters had to collect 1,202 signatures in 90 days. They submitted 1,582 signatures on Aug. 30. The county verified enough signatures on Sept. 24 to put the recall on the ballot. Kinzie filed a challenge to the sufficiency declaration in Labette County District Court. A senior judge denied his requests to stop the recall process.

Kinzie was serving his fourth term on the three-member commission.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 165 recall efforts against 263 officials. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

Additional reading: 



Recall election to be held Dec. 14 against Nebraska county supervisor

A recall election against Doris Karloff (R), District 2 representative of the seven-member Saunders County Board of Supervisors in Nebraska, is being held on Dec. 14.

The recall effort was started by Rhonda Carritt, a resident of Wahoo, Nebraska, which is represented by Karloff on the county board of supervisors. Carritt said Karloff was not representing “the best interests of the district.” Carritt confirmed with the Wahoo Newspaper that the recall was related to a solar farm project in the county among other things.

Karloff’s son went into contract with the company starting the solar farm. Because of that connection, Karloff said she abstained from all discussions on the permit and did not vote on any actions related to the solar farm. “I have tried to do my best to make sure that I was doing everything legally correct,” Karloff said.

To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters had to collect 573 signatures in 30 days. Recall supporters submitted the signatures by the deadline, and the county verified 581 signatures, allowing the recall to be put on the ballot.

Karloff won re-election to a four-year term in the general election on Nov. 3, 2020. She defeated three other Republicans in the primary on May 12, and she faced no opposition in the general election.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 165 recall efforts against 263 officials. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

Additional reading:



Recall election scheduled against Kansas county commissioner

A recall election against Brian Kinzie, District Two representative on the Labette County Commission in Kansas, has been scheduled for Dec. 7. Voters will be asked, “Shall Brian C. Kinzie be recalled from the office of 2nd District County Commissioner?” They will have the option to vote yes or no.

The recall effort started after Kinzie voted in April 2021 in favor of a motion to enter into final negotiations to allow a wind energy company to place 50 to 70 wind turbines in the county. The motion passed with a vote of 2-1. Recall supporters said they were concerned that Kinzie or his family stood to financially benefit from the deal. Kinzie said, “I’ve given this community 45 years of my life and I’ll continue to do so until there’s no fight left.”

Before recall petitions can be circulated in Kansas, a district attorney or county attorney must certify that it meets specific legal grounds. The petition against Kinzie was allowed to circulate due to misconduct. The Office of the Attorney General of Kansas found that Kinzie and fellow commissioner Cole Proehl violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act when they discussed county business on a phone call outside of a public commission meeting. The attorney general’s office did not file formal charges against Kinzie and Proehl. Instead, they were required to take a refresher course on public meeting compliance.

To get the recall on the ballot, supporters had to collect 1,202 signatures in 90 days. They submitted 1,582 signatures on Aug. 30. The county verified enough signatures on Sept. 24 to put the recall on the ballot. Kinzie filed a challenge to the sufficiency declaration in Labette County District Court. A senior judge denied his requests to stop the recall process.

Kinzie is serving his fourth term on the three-member commission.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 165 recall efforts against 263 officials. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

Additional reading:



Signatures submitted to Loudoun County Circuit Court against school board member Atoosa Reaser

Supporters of a recall against six of the nine members of the Loudoun County Public Schools school board in Virginia submitted signatures against Vice Chairwoman and Algonkian District representative Atoosa Reaser on Nov. 18. Supporters said they filed 1,859 signatures. A total of 1,213 signatures are required to move the recall forward.

The signatures were submitted to the Loudoun County Circuit Court, where the petition will be reviewed by a judge. If the case is accepted, a trial will be held. At the trial, recall supporters must “demonstrate the officer engaged in neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance” in order to remove Reaser from office.

Reaser’s petition was the second to be filed this month. Recall supporters submitted signatures against Chairwoman Brenda Sheridan on Nov. 9.

At-large representative Denise Corbo, Blue Ridge District representative Ian Serotkin, Broad Run District representative Leslee King, and Leesburg District representative Beth Barts were also included in the recall effort. All six members were supported by the Loudoun County Democratic Committee in their last elections. The effort against King ended with her death on Aug. 31, and the effort against Barts ended with her resignation effective Nov. 2. Recall supporters had filed enough signatures to advance Barts’ recall to a trial, but she resigned before the trial took place, making the case moot. Petitions against the other two members have not been filed.

The recall effort is sponsored by the Fight For Schools political action committee (PAC). The PAC is led by Ian Prior, who previously worked for the Department of Justice under the Trump administration and for the National Republican Congressional Committee. Recall supporters said they launched the effort due to school board members’ involvement in a private Facebook group. They said the board members’ involvement in the group was a violation of Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act as well as the school board’s Code of Conduct because the members discussed public matters in a private setting. 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.” He said the district did not use Critical Race Theory in its staff training or student curriculum. 

A group called Loudoun For All formed a political action committee to counteract the recall effort. “There is no reason equity in our schools should be this controversial,” Rasha Saad, president of Loudoun For All, said in a statement.

Reaser was first elected to a four-year term on the board on Nov. 5, 2019. Loudoun County Public Schools served 81,906 students during the 2018-2019 school year and comprised 92 schools.

Ballotpedia has tracked 84 school board recall efforts against 215 board members so far in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we have tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 164 recall efforts against 262 officials. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

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