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Tyler King

Tyler King is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

Recall effort to move forward in Avon, Colorado

A recall election against Avon Mayor Sarah Smith Hymes and Councilwoman Tamra Underwood is expected to be on the ballot in November 2021. The recall effort was initiated in August 2020 in response to the Avon Town Council deciding to leave in place a 2% real estate transfer tax, which collects $2.5 million annually.

Recall organizers had until Oct. 12, 2020, to submit 496 valid signatures for each official. There were about 600 signatures submitted against Hymes and Underwood on the day of the deadline. On Oct. 19, Avon Town Clerk Brenda Torres announced that not enough valid signatures had been submitted. Torres found 425 signatures valid in the recall effort against Underwood. There were 445 signatures validated for the Hymes recall.

Recall organizers and town officials disputed the number of signatures required for the recall effort. Torres’ calculations had undervotes counting towards the signature requirement. An undervote occurs when the number of choices selected by a voter in an election is less than the maximum number allowed for that election. An undervote also occurs when no vote is cast. Including undervotes put the signature requirement at 496 signatures, while leaving out the undervotes dropped that number down to 330 signatures.

On June 23, District Court Judge Russell Granger ruled that enough signatures had been submitted against Hymes and Underwood to put the recall elections on the ballot. The following day, members of the Avon Town Council voted 3-2 to appeal Granger’s decision. After holding a public discussion on July 13, the appeal was withdrawn with a 3-2 vote in the town council. The recall election can be scheduled after a certificate of sufficiency is submitted. Town officials expect that certificate to be filed ahead of the town council meeting on Aug. 10.

In response to the recall effort, Hymes said, “Two of the people involved in this recall ran for election last time. They could have run candidates in the 2020 election, but they didn’t think they could succeed, so they’re choosing this backdoor way. They are wasting an enormous amount of town resources in pursuit of this.”

Underwood said about the recall effort, “I essentially find it nothing but an intimidation and bullying tool to discourage people from running for council in Avon, in particular female people running for council in Avon.”

Councilwoman Amy Phillips was also targeted for recall, but that effort was found invalid because Phillips was up for re-election in November 2020.

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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Republican William Penterman wins Wisconsin Assembly special election

William Penterman (R) was elected to District 37 of the Wisconsin State Assembly in a special election held on July 13. Penterman earned 54.1% of the vote, defeating Democrat Pete Adams and independent candidate Stephen Ratzlaff Jr. Once the results are certified, Penterman will be sworn in for a term that ends in January 2023.

The seat became vacant on April 23 after John Jagler (R) was sworn into the Wisconsin State Senate. He won a special election for state Senate District 13 on April 6. Jagler had represented District 37 since 2013. He won re-election in 2020 with 56% of the vote.

Republicans will have a 61-38 majority in the Wisconsin Assembly after Penterman is sworn in. Wisconsin has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of July, 46 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 18 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. Wisconsin held 19 state legislative special elections from 2011 to 2020.

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Mayoral recall effort underway in Portland, Oregon

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is facing a recall effort after a group filed petitions on July 1, with volunteers starting to gather signatures on July 9. Petitioners have until Sept. 29 to submit at least 47,788 valid signatures to put the recall election on the ballot.

The recall effort is organized by Total Recall PDX. Audrey Caines was hired in June to work as campaign manager for the recall, and Melissa Blount was named chief petitioner. Petition language cites the following as reasons for a recall election: “Portlanders are ready to recover and we can’t afford to waste the next three-and-a-half years. Portland deserves better than an uninspiring mayor reelected with less than 47% of the vote. We deserve a mayor who was elected without illegally loaning his campaign $150,000 of his personal money. Our neighbors, families, and businesses deserve a mayor who prioritizes their safety and well-being.”

Wheeler was elected as mayor of Portland in 2016 with 54% of the vote, and he won re-election in 2020 with 46% of the vote. The mayor’s office had not issued a statement regarding the recall effort as of July 9, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.

The number of valid signatures required to force a recall election in Oregon is 15% of the total number of votes cast in the public officer’s electoral district for all candidates for governor at the last election at which a candidate for governor was elected to a full term. Signatures are required to be turned in no later than 90 days after the petition is filed.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 164 recall efforts against 262 officials. This was the most recall efforts for that 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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Special elections to be held on July 13 in two Alabama state legislative districts

Special elections are scheduled for July 13 for District 14 of the Alabama State Senate and District 73 of the Alabama House of Representatives. The winners of the special elections will serve until Nov. 7, 2022.

  • In Senate District 14, Virginia Applebaum (D) and April Weaver (R) are running in the special election. The seat became vacant on Dec. 7 after Cam Ward (R) was appointed to serve as director of the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles by Gov. Kay Ivey (R). Ward had represented the seat since 2010.
  • In House District 73, Sheridan Black (R) is facing off against Kenneth Paschal (R). The special election became necessary after Matt Fridy (R) was elected to the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals in Nov. 2020. Fridy had represented District 73 since 2015.

Alabama has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the state Senate by a 26-8 margin with one vacancy and the state House by a 76-27 margin with two vacancies.

As of July, 40 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 17 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. Alabama held 23 state legislative special elections from 2011 to 2020.

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Special election to be held July 13 in Wisconsin Assembly district

A special election is being held on July 13 for District 37 of the Wisconsin State Assembly. Pete Adams (D), William Penterman (R), and Stephen Ratzlaff Jr. (I) are running in the general election. Penterman advanced past the June 15 Republican primary in a field of eight candidates. Adams was unopposed in the Democratic primary. The winner of the special election will serve until January 2023.

The seat became vacant on April 23 after John Jagler (R) was sworn into the Wisconsin State Senate. He won a special election for state Senate District 13 on April 6. Jagler had represented District 37 since 2013. He won re-election in 2020 with 56% of the vote.

Heading into the special election, Republicans have a 60-38 majority in the Wisconsin Assembly with one vacancy. Wisconsin has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of June, 39 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 17 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. Wisconsin held 19 state legislative special elections from 2011 to 2020.

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Voters in California Assembly District 18 to decide special election primary on June 29

A special election primary is being held on June 29 for District 18 of the California State Assembly. Victor Aguilar (D), James Aguilar (D), Mia Bonta (D), Eugene Canson (D), Janani Ramachandran (D), Malia Vella (D), Stephen Slauson (R), and Joel Britton (I) are on the primary ballot. Nelsy Batista (D) filed as a write-in candidate for the primary. If a candidate receives more than 50% of the vote in the primary, he or she will win the election outright. If no candidate receives a majority of the votes, the top two candidates will advance to a special general election on August 31. The winner will serve until December 2022.

The seat became vacant after Rob Bonta (D) was appointed attorney general of California. Bonta was confirmed by the state legislature on April 22. He had represented District 18 since 2012.

Heading into the special election, Democrats have a 59-19 majority in the California Assembly with one independent member and one vacancy. California has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of June, 40 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 17 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. California held 28 state legislative special elections from 2011 to 2020.

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Special election primary to be held in Wisconsin Assembly district

A special election primary is being held on June 15 for District 37 of the Wisconsin State Assembly. Cathy Houchin, Steve Kauffeld, Nick Krueger, Jennifer Meinhardt, William Penterman, Nathan Pollnow, Jenifer Quimby, and Spencer Zimmerman are running in the Republican primary. Pete Adams is unopposed in the Democratic primary. Stephen Ratzlaff Jr. is running as an independent candidate. The general election will take place on July 13, and the winner of the special election will serve until January 2023.

The seat became vacant on April 23 after John Jagler (R) was sworn into the Wisconsin State Senate. He won a special election for state Senate District 13 on April 6. Jagler had represented District 37 since 2013. He won re-election in 2020 with 56% of the vote.

Heading into the special election, Republicans have a 60-38 majority in the Wisconsin Assembly with one vacancy. Wisconsin has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of June, 39 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 17 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. Wisconsin held 19 state legislative special elections from 2011 to 2020.

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Special election primary to be held June 12 in Louisiana Senate district

A special election primary is being held on June 12 for District 7 of the Louisiana State Senate. Joanna Cappiello-Leopold (D), Gary Carter Jr. (D), Mack Cormier (D), and Patricia McCarty (R) are running in the primary. Louisiana elections use the majority-vote system. All candidates compete in the same primary, and a candidate can win the election outright by receiving more than 50% of the vote. If no candidate does, the top two vote recipients from the primary advance to the general election, regardless of their partisan affiliation.

The District 7 seat became vacant after Troy Carter (D) won a special election for Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District on April 24. Carter had represented District 7 since 2016. He resigned on May 10, a day prior to his swearing-in as a member of Congress.

Heading into the special election, Republicans have a 27-11 majority in the Louisiana Senate with one vacancy. Louisiana has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of June, 38 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 16 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. Louisiana held 36 state legislative special elections from 2011 to 2020.

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Special election to be held on June 8 in New Hampshire House district

A special election is being held on June 8 for the Merrimack 23 District of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Muriel Hall (D) and Christopher Lins (R) are running in the general election. The winner of this special election will serve until December 2022.

The seat became vacant after Samantha Fox (D) resigned on January 12. Fox had represented the district since 2018.

Heading into the special election, Republicans have a 212-186 majority in the New Hampshire House with two vacancies. New Hampshire has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of May, 38 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 16 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. New Hampshire held 29 state legislative special elections from 2011 to 2020.

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Petitions rejected in recall effort against Montana mayor

Two recall petitions filed in Montana against Stevensville Mayor Brandon Dewey this month were rejected by the office of the Ravalli County Clerk over issues with how the petitions were filed. State statutes also limit new recall efforts from moving forward until petitioners reimburse expenses from an earlier recall election against the same official. Dewey retained his position following a recall vote on Nov. 3.

The recall efforts were organized by resident Leanna Rodabaugh, who accused Dewey of violating his oath of office by signing contracts on behalf of the town without approval from the Stevensville Town Council. The first petition was filed in response to a three-year contract with MySidewalk, Inc. costing $23,000 per year. The second petition was over a three-year contract with Billing Document Services, Inc. for an unspecified dollar amount.

Rodabaugh led the 2020 recall effort against Dewey over a $79,800 contract signed with First Call Computer Solutions. Dewey survived the recall election with 52% of voters casting ballots against removing him from office.

Recall organizers are given 90 days to collect valid signatures equaling 20% of registered voters in the city. Ravalli County Clerk and Recorder Regina Plettenberg rejected the petitions because they weren’t filed with a written statement including reasons for a recall election. Petitioners are also required to swear before a person authorized to administer oaths that the written statements are true. Recalls cannot be filed against officials who were the subject of a recall election within two years prior to and during the official’s term of office unless petitioners reimburse the cost of the earlier recall election.

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