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Abbey Smith

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

Kansas school board recall election defeated

A recall election seeking to remove Amy Sudbeck from her position as the District 1 representative on the Nemaha USD 115 Board of Education in Kansas was on the ballot on Nov. 2. The majority of votes were cast against the recall, keeping Sudbeck in office.

The recall effort started after a majority of board members voted in April and May to keep the district’s policy to require mask-wearing due to the COVID-19 pandemic rather than changing the policy to say masks were recommended. The recall petition said Sudbeck failed to perform her duties and “violated Kansas Statute 60-5305 by not allowing parents to make decisions regarding the healthcare of their children when attending school.”

In response to the recall, Sudbeck said, “It’s unfortunate that this issue has caused division in our community. I voted with the majority to allow our kids freedom to participate in activities, stay in school and keep them out of a quarantine invoked by the health department.”

Three signatures were required to get the recall on the ballot, and the clerk verified eight signatures.

Sudbeck was appointed to her position on the seven-member board in 2020, and she sought re-election in 2021. She advanced from the primary on Aug. 3 and was on the regular election ballot in addition to the recall election ballot on Nov. 2. She won re-election.

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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Majority of voters decide to keep incumbents in Wisconsin school board recall

Recall elections seeking to remove four of the seven members of the Mequon-Thiensville School District Board of Education in Wisconsin were held on Nov. 2. A majority of voters cast ballots in favor of keeping board members Wendy Francour, Erik Hollander, Akram Khan, and Chris Schultz in office, defeating all four recalls. Cheryle Rebholtz ran against Francour, Charles Lorenz ran against Hollander, Kristopher Kittell ran against Khan, and Scarlett Johnson ran against Schultz.

Recall supporters said they started the recall due to concerns about the school district’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, critical race theory, a decline in academic performance metrics, and an inability to get answers from board members. The other three members of the board were not eligible for recall as they had not served in the office for at least one year.

A spokeswoman for the district said, “MTSD’s focus remains on advancing our vision and planning for a robust learning experience for all students for the 2021-2022 school year.”

Recall supporters filed recall paperwork on June 21. To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters had to collect approximately 4,200 signatures per board member in 60 days. The number of signatures was equal to 25% of the votes cast in the 2018 gubernatorial election in the school district. Supporters submitted more than 4,400 signatures on Aug. 23. The petitions were found to be sufficient on Sept. 21.

The candidate filing deadline was Oct. 5. If more than two candidates had filed in any race, the Nov. 2 election would have become a primary, and a general election would have been held on Nov. 30.

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.

Additional reading:

https://ballotpedia.org/Recall_campaigns_in_Wisconsin

https://ballotpedia.org/Political_recall_efforts,_2021

https://ballotpedia.org/School_board_recalls



School board recall elections in Kansas and Wisconsin on ballot Nov. 2

One Kansas school board member and four Wisconsin school board members are facing recall elections on Nov. 2. Supporters of both efforts listed the school board’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic as one of the reasons for recall.

In the Nemaha USD 115 in Kansas, District 1 representative Amy Sudbeck is facing a yes/no recall question. If a majority of voters cast ballots in favor of the recall, Sudbeck will be removed from office. If a majority of voters cast ballots against the recall, Sudbeck will retain her office.

The recall petition said that Sudbeck had failed to perform her duties and alleged that she had violated state statutes by voting to require masks in schools rather than allowing them to be optional. In response to the recall, Sudbeck said, “It’s unfortunate that this issue has caused division in our community. I voted with the majority to allow our kids freedom to participate in activities, stay in school and keep them out of a quarantine invoked by the health department.”

Sudbeck was appointed to her position on the seven-member board in 2020. She is seeking re-election in 2021. She advanced from the primary on Aug. 3 and will be on the regular election ballot in addition to the recall election ballot on Nov. 2.

Three signatures were required to get the recall on the ballot. The Nemaha County Clerk verified eight signatures, allowing the recall election to be scheduled.

In the Mequon-Thiensville School District in Wisconsin, four board members—Wendy Francour, Erik Hollander, Akram Khan, and Chris Schultz—are on the ballot. Cheryle Rebholtz filed to run against Francour, Charles Lorenz filed to run against Hollander, Kristopher Kittell filed to run against Khan, and Scarlett Johnson filed to run against Schultz. The candidate who receives the most votes in each recall election will win that seat.

Recall supporters said they started the recall due to concerns about the school district’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, critical race theory, a decline in academic performance metrics, and an inability to get answers from board members. The other three members of the board were not eligible for recall as they had not served in the office for at least one year.

In response to the recall efforts, a spokeswoman for the district said, “MTSD’s focus remains on advancing our vision and planning for a robust learning experience for all students for the 2021-2022 school year.”

All four members named filed challenges against the recall petitions. The challenges were sustained when it came to duplicate signatures but were not sustained on other matters. To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters had to collect approximately 4,200 signatures per board member in 60 days.

Ballotpedia has tracked 82 school board recall efforts against 212 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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San Francisco school board recall elections scheduled for Feb. 15

Recall elections against three of the seven members of the San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education in California have been scheduled for Feb. 15, 2022. Petitions to recall board members Gabriela López, Alison Collins, and Faauuga Moliga were certified in October 2021.

Recall supporters said they were frustrated that schools in the district remained closed for nearly a year in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. They also said they were upset that the board had spent time voting to rename 44 buildings in the district rather than focusing on opening schools. At a board meeting on April 6, 2021, members unanimously voted to rescind the approval of the renaming process. At the same meeting, they voted to return students to full-time in-person instruction at the start of the 2021-2022 school year.

All three board members named in the recall petitions were first elected to the board on Nov. 6, 2018. They received the most votes in an at-large election, defeating 16 other candidates. The other four members of the board were not eligible for recall at the same time as López, Collins, and Moliga as they had not served in their current terms for six months. They were elected or re-elected to the board on Nov. 3, 2020.

To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters had 160 days to collect signatures from 10% of registered voters in the city. The total number of signatures needed was 51,325 per board member, and the deadline to submit them was Sept. 7. If a majority of voters cast ballots in favor of the recall on Feb. 15, the mayor of San Francisco will appoint replacements.

Ballotpedia has tracked 81 school board recall efforts against 209 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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Beth Barts, subject of Loudoun County school board recall effort, resigns from office

Beth Barts, the Leesburg District representative on the Loudoun County Public Schools school board in Virginia, announced her resignation from office on Oct. 15. Her resignation will be effective Nov. 2.

Barts was the subject of a recall effort that included five other members of the board. Her petition was the first one filed with the Loudoun County Circuit Court. At a pre-trial hearing on Oct. 5, the circuit court judge ruled that the petition could advance to a full trial. The judge also granted the recall petitioners’ request to appoint a special prosecutor. Stafford County Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Olsen (R) was appointed to serve in that position.

In Virginia, recall efforts are determined in circuit court rather than at the ballot box. Virginia also requires certain reasons to 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 collected 1,860. They submitted the petition signatures on Aug. 25.

In her resignation announcement, Barts said, “This was not an easy decision or a decision made in haste. After much thought and careful consideration, it is the right decision for me and my family.” Her attorney said he expected the recall case against her to be declared moot. He said if she had fought against the case, he expected her to have won.

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.

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 was supported by the Loudoun County Democratic Committee.

Loudoun County Public Schools served 81,906 students during the 2018-2019 school year.

Ballotpedia has tracked 81 school board recall efforts against 209 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 overall. 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 effort against Nebraska school board member submits signatures

An effort to recall Chris Waddle from his position as president of the Giltner Public Schools Board of Education in Nebraska filed petition signatures on Oct. 12. The Hamilton County Clerk’s Office has 15 business days to verify the signatures. If 119 signatures are verified, a recall election will be scheduled.

The recall effort was started by Jamie Bendorf, a resident of Giltner, in August. On the recall petition filing form, Bendorf wrote, “Christopher Waddle doesn’t hold the best interest of the patrons in the Giltner School District.” In a statement about the recall effort, Bendorf said parents felt like the administration had dismissed their concerns. She also said she was concerned about families leaving the district.

In response to the recall, Waddle submitted the following statement: “We have a strong administrative team, the finest teachers and staff, the highest enrollment of students in years and the district is in a good financial position for the future […] These things happen when you have a school board with the right vision for the future. A recall under these conditions is not in the best interest of our school.”

Ballotpedia has tracked 80 school board recall efforts against 207 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.

Additional reading:



Loudoun County Circuit Court rules school board recall may advance to trial

An effort to recall Beth Barts from her position as the Leesburg District representative on the Loudoun County Public Schools school board in Virginia moved forward at a pre-trial hearing on Oct. 5. At the hearing, a Loudoun County Circuit Court judge ruled that the recall effort could advance to a full trial, denying Barts’ motion to dismiss the petition against her since it was not signed by an attorney.

The judge also granted the recall petitioners’ request to appoint a special prosecutor to take the place of Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj. Recall supporters said Biberaj was a friend of Barts’. The case will go to trial after the special prosecutor is named.

In Virginia, recall efforts are determined in circuit court rather than at the ballot box. Virginia also requires certain reasons to 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 collected 1,860. They submitted the petition signatures on Aug. 25.

Recall supporters are also circulating petitions against another four members of the nine-member school board. They 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.

Barts was first elected to a four-year term on the board on November 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.

Loudoun County Public Schools served 81,906 students during the 2018-2019 school year.

Ballotpedia has tracked 74 school board recall efforts against 192 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.

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.

Additional reading:



New Mexico county commission recall effort fails to collect enough signatures to get on ballot

An effort to recall Couy Griffin (R) from his position as the District 2 representative on the Otero County Commission in New Mexico did not collect enough signatures to get on the ballot. Recall supporters had to collect 1,574 signatures from registered voters in District 2 by Sept. 28, but they announced that they had fallen short by 345 signatures.

Recall supporters said Griffin had used the office for personal gain. Griffin said the allegations against him were baseless and politically motivated.

Griffin, who founded the organization Cowboys for Trump, was arrested in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 17, for his alleged role in the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. He was charged with “knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority,” according to the Alamogordo Daily News. Griffin was released from federal prison on Feb. 5.

After Griffin was arrested, District 1 Commissioner Gerald Matherly (R) and District 3 Commissioner Vickie Marquardt (R) called for his resignation, as did New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas (D). Griffin said he would not resign. He said he was accused of crimes but not convicted. “I just want those that have already come to the conclusion that I’m guilty, I just again ask you to put the brakes on a little bit and let the legal process take place,” Griffin said.

Griffin was elected to the three-member commission in 2018, defeating Democratic candidate Christopher S. Jones with 65% of the vote.

New Mexico allows recalls at the county level for “malfeasance or misfeasance in office or violation of the oath of office by the official concerned.” Those actions must have occurred during the official’s current term of office in order for a recall effort to be approved to circulate petitions.

Recall supporters filed paperwork to start the recall process on March 11. District Court Judge Manuel Arrieta ruled on April 8 that the recall effort could move forward. Griffin appealed that decision to the New Mexico Supreme Court on April 19. The New Mexico Supreme Court affirmed the lower court’s ruling on June 28, allowing the recall effort to move forward.

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.

Additional reading:



Recall elections scheduled for four Wisconsin school board members

Recall elections seeking to remove four of the seven members of the Mequon-Thiensville School District Board of Education in Wisconsin are being held on Nov. 2, 2021. Board members Wendy Francour, Erik Hollander, Akram Khan, and Chris Schultz are on the ballot. The candidate filing deadline is Oct. 5. If more than two candidates file in any race, the Nov. 2 election will become a primary, and a general election will be held on Nov. 30.

Recall supporters said they started the recall due to concerns about the school district’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, critical race theory, a decline in academic performance metrics, and an inability to get answers from board members. The other three members of the board were not eligible for recall as they had not served in the office for at least one year.

A spokeswoman for the district said, “MTSD’s focus remains on advancing our vision and planning for a robust learning experience for all students for the 2021-2022 school year.”

To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters had to collect approximately 4,200 signatures per board member in 60 days. The number of signatures was equal to 25% of the votes cast in the 2018 gubernatorial election in the school district. Supporters submitted more than 4,400 signatures on Aug. 23. All four members named in the recall petitions filed challenges against the petitions on Sept. 2. Recall supporters submitted a rebuttal to the challenges on Sept. 7. The challenges were sustained when it came to duplicate signatures but were not sustained on other matters. The petitions were found to be sufficient on Sept. 21, allowing the recall elections to be scheduled.

Ballotpedia has tracked 67 school board recall efforts against 174 board members so far in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we have tracked in one year since beginning this coverage in 2010. 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.

Additional reading:



Sonoma County District Attorney retains office after voters defeat recall effort

A recall election seeking to remove Jill Ravitch from her position as the district attorney of Sonoma County, Calif., was on the ballot on Sept. 14. A majority of voters (79.9%) cast ballots against the recall, defeating the effort and keeping Ravitch in office.

The candidate filing deadline passed on July 1, but no candidates filed to run in the replacement race. However, two write-in candidates— Omar Figueroa and Joey Castagnola— filed to run afterward.

The recall effort began in October 2020. Recall supporters said Ravitch had ignored issues of inequality, injustice, and fire safety; failed to hold corporations accountable for environmental issues; prevented the release of police body camera recordings; disproportionately incarcerated minorities; and abused her powers to pursue personal vendettas.

In response to the recall effort, Ravitch defended her record and said, “I’m so proud of the work the District Attorney’s Office does, and it’s such an honor to lead a dedicated group of professionals who work hard every day to ensure justice. […] These allegations strike not just at me but the work my office does, and that’s unfortunate.” The Sonoma County Democratic Party published a statement on March 9 saying it was opposed to the recall effort.

Ravitch took office as district attorney in 2011. Prior to the filing of the notice of intent to recall, Ravitch had announced that she would not seek re-election when her term ends in 2022.

To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters had to submit 30,056 signatures in 160 days. The county verified 32,128 signatures, which was sufficient to schedule a recall election.

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.

Additional reading: