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Abbey Smith

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

Two Wisconsin school board members named in recall petition after voting to continue virtual learning

An effort to recall Robert Hesselbein and Minza Karim from their positions on the Middleton-Cross Plains School District Board of Education in Wisconsin began in October 2020. The effort started after the board voted 5-4 on September 28, 2020, to keep students in virtual learning for the rest of the first semester of the 2020-2021 school year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The other option, which did not pass, would have allowed students in pre-school through second grade to return to in-person instruction starting on November 2, 2020. Hesselbein and Karim were two of the five members who voted in favor of continuing virtual learning. 

The recall effort was started by the group Parents for Change. Angela Rachidi, an organizer of the group, said that the board members’ votes to continue virtual learning did not represent the wants and needs of the community. She also said that virtual learning did not support an equitable education. 

Both Hesselbein and Karim both said they stood by their votes. Hesselbein said that though he understood families’ frustrations, safety had to come first while COVID-19 cases were rising in the county and the state. Karim said she voted to keep schooling virtual “for the sake of safety and health for the students, staff and the entire community.”

The Middleton-Cross Plains Board of Education has nine members. Hesselbein is one of the four Area IV representatives of the board, and Karim is the Area III representative of the board. Both of them have terms ending in 2022. 

To get the recall on the ballot, supporters must collect approximately 5,000 signatures in 60 days. The number of signatures is equal to 25% of the votes cast for governor in the school district in the 2018 election.

Hesselbein and Karim are not the only school board members included in a recall effort in Wisconsin this year. An effort to recall three of the seven members of the Appleton Area School District Board of Education began in September 2020. That effort also centers around the board’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

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Majority of Idaho school board named in recall petition

An effort to recall three of the five members of the Pocatello-Chubbuck School District No. 25 board of trustees in Idaho began on September 18, 2020, when recall supporters filed paperwork with the Bannock County Elections Office. To get the recall on the ballot, supporters must submit recall petitions to the elections office by December 1.

Zone 1 representative Jackie Cranor, Zone 2 representative Janie Gebhardt, and Zone 5 representative Dave Mattson were named in the recall petitions after the board unanimously voted to continue using a hybrid teaching model (two days in-person and three days online) for middle school and high school students for the remainder of the first trimester of the 2020-2021 school year. The district started the hybrid model due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recall supporters said the board was not fully representing the electorate on the issue of hybrid learning and other issues. The school district released a statement saying that the board weighs a number of factors when making decisions and that majority opinion does not always rule.

To get the recall effort against Cranor on the ballot, supporters must collect 164 signatures from registered voters in Zone 1. To get the recall effort against Gebhardt on the ballot, supporters must collect 351 signatures from Zone 2, and to recall Mattson, they must collect 206 signatures from Zone 5. If the recall election makes the ballot, at least as many voters who first put the board members in office must vote to recall them in order for the recall election to be successful. The recall against Cranor would need 279 votes in favor, the recall against Gebhardt would need 417 votes in favor, and the recall against Mattson would need 278 votes in favor.

Cranor, Gebhardt, and Mattson were also included in a 2018 recall effort against all five members who served on the board at the time. That effort started after the board voted to end the district’s 20-year-old open enrollment policy that allowed students to choose which high school they attended. The leader of that recall put the effort on hold before the deadline to submit petitions.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

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Michigan school board recall approved to circulate petitions after earlier rejection this year

A petition seeking to recall Margaret Weertz and Chris Lee from their positions as members of the Grosse Pointe Public Schools Board of Education in Michigan was approved for circulation by the Wayne County Election Commission at a clarity hearing on September 16, 2020. This approval came after an earlier petition against the same two board members had been rejected on June 30 at another clarity hearing.

Both recall petitions were filed by Monica Palmer, a resident of Grosse Pointe Woods. On the new petition, the reasons for recall included the two board members voting in favor of the district’s reconfiguration plan, voting to approve a $2.1 million construction contract for the district’s Rocket Fiber project, and voting in favor of extending Superintendent Gary Niehaus’ contract. The reasons for recall listed on the prior petition had included the same votes. Palmer said, “There’s a handful of people that feel enough is enough. There’s a lot of them in the community feeling like they’re not being heard. They’re not liking the way the administration is taking the school system. That is the Board of Education’s job. They are supposed to be directing the administration.”

In reaction to the new recall effort, Lee said he had no intention of giving up his seat and planned to run in the recall election if it went that far. “There’s a group out there that are doing everything they can to bring down the school system. They get some delight in making trouble. This is not right,” Lee said.

Weertz said, “I never met Mrs. Palmer, and I don’t know what she has against me. It would be common courtesy if she called and told me her grievances. I actually believe this is a well-funded group that wants to undo the democratic process.”

Weertz was elected to the board in 2014 and re-elected in 2018, and Lee was first elected to the board in 2018. To get the recall on the ballot, supporters must collect 7,646 signatures.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

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Washington sheriff files appeal against recall effort with state supreme court

A petition seeking to recall John Snaza from his position as sheriff of Thurston County, Washington was approved for circulation by Superior Court Judge Jeanette Dalton on July 29, 2020. Snaza filed an appeal against that decision with the Washington Supreme Court. The court will review the appeal in December 2020, according to The Olympian.

The recall effort started after the sheriff’s office released a statement on June 24, 2020, saying “it would be inappropriate for deputies to criminally enforce” the state’s mandate to wear a mask in public places. Recall supporters said the sheriff’s statement was impeding the efforts of state and city governments to protect the public. Snaza said it was his intent to educate people about the law rather than arrest them.

If Snaza’s appeal is rejected, recall supporters will have 180 days to collect 23,027 signatures in order to get the recall on the ballot.

Two other sheriff recall efforts have been appealed with the Washington Supreme Court in 2020. The court ruled that a recall effort against Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney could begin circulating petitions on September 10, and it is scheduled to hear the appeal of Benton County Sheriff Jerry Hatcher on November 5.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

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Washington Supreme Court to review county sheriff recall petition on November 5

The Washington Supreme Court agreed to review a petition seeking to recall Jerry Hatcher from his position as Benton County Sheriff. Walla Walla County Superior Court Judge Scott Wolfram initially approved the recall petition on August 20, but Hatcher filed an appeal against that decision with the state supreme court. Hatcher’s appeal will be considered by the court on November 5, 2020.
 
The Benton County Sheriff’s Guild is leading the recall effort. They said Hatcher had performed his duties in an improper manner, committed illegal acts, and violated his oath of office. Hatcher said the guild was refusing to hold deputies accountable for their actions. He said the guild would not let him take disciplinary action against employees who committed wrongdoing.
 
If the appeal is rejected, recall supporters will be able to circulate petitions. Recall supporters must collect 14,000 signatures to get the recall on the ballot.
 
In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

Additional reading:
Recall campaigns in Washington
Political recall efforts, 2020
County official recalls



Washington Supreme Court allows sheriff recall to move forward

The Washington Supreme Court ruled on September 10, 2020, that a recall effort against Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney could begin circulating petitions. It is the second recall effort against Fortney to be approved for circulation this year.

The efforts began after Fortney announced in April 2020 that his office would not enforce restrictions Gov. Jay Inslee (D) set in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The first recall petition said that Fortney “used his position as an elected official to encourage citizens to defy the law and violate the Governor’s Emergency Proclamations.” The second recall petition said that Fortney had “endangered the peace and safety of the community and violated his statutory duties.”

The first recall petition was approved for circulation on May 15 and has until November to collect signatures. The second petition was initially approved for circulation on June 2, but Fortney filed an appeal with the Washington Supreme Court on June 22. That effort has until March 10, 2021, to collect signatures. Both efforts must collect 44,494 signatures to get on the ballot. As of September 11, 2020, the two recall efforts were acting independently of each other.

In response to the recall efforts, Fortney said he stood by his statement that the sheriff’s department “will not be enforcing an order preventing religious freedoms or constitutional rights.” Fortney was elected sheriff on November 5, 2019, with 55% of the vote.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

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Washington sheriff files appeal against recall petition with state supreme court

An effort to recall Jerry Hatcher from his position as Benton County Sheriff in Washington began in July 2020. The Benton County Sheriff’s Guild is leading the recall effort. They allege that Hatcher performed his duties in an improper manner, committed illegal acts, and violated his oath of office. Hatcher said the guild was refusing to hold deputies accountable. He said the guild would not let him take disciplinary action against employees who committed wrongdoing.

Walla Walla County Superior Court Judge Scott Wolfram approved the recall petition on August 20, 2020. Hatcher filed an appeal against that decision with the Washington Supreme Court. If his appeal is rejected, recall supporters will be able to circulate petitions. Recall supporters must collect 14,000 signatures to get the recall on the ballot.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

Additional reading


Idaho county commission recall elections defeated despite majority of votes in favor

A recall election seeking to remove Rick Ellis and Roy Hubert from their positions as Lincoln County Commissioners in Idaho was held on August 25, 2020. Though 73% of voters cast ballots in favor of recalling the two commissioners, both recalls were defeated. In order to be approved, the recalls needed at least as many votes as the officeholders received when they were elected. A minimum of 710 votes in favor of recall was needed to remove Ellis from office, and 704 were cast. A minimum of 833 votes was needed to remove Hubert from office, and 698 were cast.

The recall effort began after the two commissioners voted to build a new courthouse in a different location in the county. Recall supporters said they were seeking recall due to a “willful disregard for the wishes and desires of the public” and “deliberately ignoring the results of two public surveys regarding the renovation of the courthouse.”

Ellis said the issues surrounding the courthouse started when the community took a survey detailing what they wanted in regards to renovations. He said that the survey results showed that “they wanted to renovate the existing courthouse and build a new, approximately 12,000 square foot annex.” He said that the same survey showed that residents would vote in favor of a bond for that project. However, when it came time to vote, “fifty-one percent showed up to support the bond, and it failed. Because it took a super majority of 67 percent to win,” Ellis said.

To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters had to submit petitions with 442 signatures by April 3. They submitted 608 signatures on the deadline, and the county verified 563.

Ellis was first elected to the three-member commission in 2018. Hubert was appointed to the commission in 2011 by Gov. Butch Otter (R), and he retained his seat in elections in 2012 and 2016.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

Additional reading:


Idaho county commission recall election to be held August 25

A recall election seeking to remove Rick Ellis and Roy Hubert from their positions as Lincoln County Commissioners in Idaho is scheduled for August 25, 2020. The effort began after the two commissioners voted to build a new courthouse in a different location in the county. Recall supporters said they were seeking recall due to a “willful disregard for the wishes and desires of the public” and “deliberately ignoring the results of two public surveys regarding the renovation of the courthouse.”

Ellis said the issues surrounding the courthouse started when the community took a survey detailing what they wanted in regards to renovations. He said that the survey results showed that “they wanted to renovate the existing courthouse and build a new, approximately 12,000 square foot annex.” He said that the same survey showed that residents would vote in favor of a bond for that project. However, when it came time to vote, “fifty-one percent showed up to support the bond, and it failed. Because it took a super majority of 67 percent to win,” Ellis said.

To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters had to submit petitions with 442 signatures by April 3. They submitted 608 signatures on the deadline, and the county verified 563.

Ellis was first elected to the three-member commission in 2018. Hubert was appointed to the commission in 2011 by Gov. Butch Otter (R), and he retained his seat in elections in 2012 and 2016.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

Additional reading:


California school board recall petition approved for circulation

A petition to recall John Crabtree from his position as president and Trustee Area 4 representative of the Visalia Unified School District Board of Education in California was approved for circulation in August 2020. Recall supporters must collect 2,411 signatures by November 18, 2020, to get the recall on the ballot.

The effort began in June 2020. Recall supporters listed the district’s budget deficit, the board’s decision not to build a fifth high school, and Crabtree’s allegedly negligent leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic as reasons for the recall effort.

Crabtree responded by saying that the district would not have a deficit if new student projections proved accurate, that the high school plan was canceled in the design phase due to cost increases, and that it was difficult for the district to build a virtual program from scratch at the end of the school year in response to the pandemic.

Crabtree was elected to the board in November 2013 and re-elected in November 2018. His term is scheduled to expire on December 9, 2022.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

Additional reading:


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