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Judge rules Idaho school board recall qualifies for ballot

A district court judge ruled on February 22, 2021, that a recall effort against Idaho Falls School District 91 board of trustees member Lara Hill had successfully qualified for the ballot. A recall election against board member Elizabeth Cogliati is already scheduled for March 9.

The recall effort against Cogliati and Hill began after the board of trustees voted 3-2 on September 30, 2020, to move high schools in the district from in-person instruction five days a week to a mixture of in-person instruction two days a week and online instruction the other three days due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cogliati and Hill voted in favor of the change in instruction along with trustee Hillary Radcliffe, while trustees Paul Haacke and Larry Haws voted against it.

Superintendent George Boland said the goal for the change in instruction was to reduce the number of coronavirus cases and related quarantines and absences at the high schools. The school district had reported 90 coronavirus cases among students and staff between the beginning of the school year and October 9, 2020. Recall supporters said the district’s online classes were low quality and putting students at a disadvantage.

The recall effort initially sought to recall all three board members who voted in favor of changing to hybrid instruction. The effort against Radcliffe did not collect enough signatures and did not submit the petition by the deadline.

Signatures for the recall of Hill and Cogliati were both submitted on December 28, 2020. The Bonneville County Clerk’s Office verified enough signatures to put the recall against Cogliati on the ballot but found that the petition against Hill did not have enough valid signatures. Recall supporters filed a lawsuit against the county clerk, alleging that nine signatures that had been rejected should have been verified. The court ruled in favor of the recall supporters.

Hill’s recall election had not been scheduled as of February 24. After March 9, the next county election dates scheduled are May 18 and August 31.

Recall efforts against school board members started in three other school districts in Idaho in 2020. All of the efforts named their school board’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic as reasons for recall. The effort in the West Ada school district did not go to a vote but saw two members resign from their positions. The recall effort against Aaron Proctor in the Whitepine School District went to the ballot on November 3 and was approved with 57% of the vote, resulting in Proctor’s removal from office. The recall effort against three board members in the Pocatello-Chubbuck school district was approved for the ballot, and the elections were scheduled for March 9.

In 2020, Ballotpedia covered a total of 226 recall efforts against 272 elected officials. Of the 49 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 29 were recalled for a rate of 59%. That was higher than the 52% rate for 2019 recalls but lower than the 63% rate for 2018 recalls.

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St. Louis to use new mayoral primary system for first time on March 2

Image of several stickers with the words "I voted"

On March 2, St. Louis, Missouri, will hold a mayoral primary using an electoral system called approval voting for the first time in the city’s history. Candidates of all political affiliations will appear on the ballot without partisan labels and voters may choose any number of candidates to vote for. The two candidates receiving the most votes will advance to the general election on April 6. Voters approved the method through the passage of Proposition D in November 2020.

Mayor Lyda Krewson (D) is not running for re-election. Four candidates are running in the primary: 2017 mayoral candidate Andrew Jones, St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones, Aldermen President Lewis Reed, and Alderwoman Cara Spencer. Each has a partisan affiliation: A. Jones ran as a Republican in 2017, and the other three candidates have previously run for office as Democrats.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch endorsed both Spencer and Reed. T. Jones was endorsed by Saint Louis County Executive Sam Page, Democracy for America, and the state council of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Spencer was endorsed by former Mayor Vincent Schoemehl Jr. and former Aldermanic President James Shrewsbury.

Through Feb. 22, Spencer raised the most money of all the candidates ($356,000), followed by T. Jones ($333,000), Reed ($271,000), and A. Jones ($20,000).

Candidates have each made crime a key priority in this campaign. A. Jones said that the city’s violent crime problem made it harder for the city to attract new businesses and retain existing ones, so addressing crime would improve safety while also improving the city’s business climate. T. Jones said she supported restructuring the police department’s budget to reallocate funding for mental health services, job training programs, and treating substance abuse. Reed’s campaign website called for a focus on violent crime, using a strategy called focused deterrence with groups most likely to commit violent crimes. Spencer, citing her background in mathematics and modeling, said she would implement a data-driven strategy for crime reduction in the city. 

The city of St. Louis utilizes a strong mayor and city council system. In this form of municipal government, the city council serves as the city’s primary legislative body and the mayor serves as the city’s chief executive.



Voters recall Colorado school board member

A recall election seeking to remove Lance McDaniel from his position as the District A representative on the Montezuma-Cortez School District Board of Education in Colorado was approved by voters on Feb. 16, 2021. Cody Wells was elected to replace McDaniel on the board.

The recall effort started in July 2020. Recall supporters said McDaniel had shown a “lack of leadership and has proven to be a poor role model for our children,” regarding several of his social media posts. The petition stated, “We need school board members that understand leadership and the power of mentoring, and know not to voice their personal, political, or social opinions that could influence children.”

McDaniel said he was not concerned about the recall effort. “When it gets down to it, I’m a loudmouth liberal, and they don’t like that,” he said. McDaniel said he stood by his social media posts. “The conservatives don’t like the fact that there are some more progressive people in the town,” he said. McDaniel was one of seven members on the board of education. He was appointed to his position in 2018.

To get the recall on the ballot, supporters of the effort had to submit 1,126 signatures in 60 days. The number of signatures was equal to 40% of the citizens in the school district who voted in the last school board election. Recall supporters submitted the signatures by the deadline, and Montezuma County Clerk and Recorder Kim Percell determined enough signatures were valid. Before a recall election could be scheduled, four challenges were submitted against the petition, saying the petition was “baseless, frivolous and infringes on Mr. McDaniel’s First Amendment rights of freedom of speech.” A hearing on the challenges was held on Nov. 19, and the challenges were denied on Nov. 23. Hearing Officer Mike Green said that the recall petition met the statutory requirements. The filing deadline for successor candidates was Jan. 8.

Three other school board recall elections have been scheduled so far this year. All three are in Idaho and are being held on March 9.

In 2020, Ballotpedia covered a total of 226 recall efforts against 272 elected officials. Of the 49 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 29 were recalled for a rate of 59%. That was higher than the 52% rate for 2019 recalls but lower than the 63% rate for 2018 recalls.

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23 candidates file to run for mayor, city council in Arlington, Texas

The filing deadline for candidates interested in running for mayor and city council member in Arlington, Texas, was February 12, 2021. The nonpartisan general election is scheduled for May 1.

Eight candidates—Doni Anthony, Kelly Burke, former city councilmember Michael Glaspie, Cirilo Ocampo Jr., Jim Ross, District 3 city councilmember Marvin Sutton, Jerry Warden, and Dewayne Washington—filed to replace Jeff Williams as mayor. Williams was elected as mayor of Arlington in 2015 and is unable to run for re-election in 2021 due to term limits.

In total, 15 candidates filed to run for four seats on the Arlington City Council.

District 3

Tamiko Brown, Nikkie Hunter, Alixis Lupien, Diana Saleh, and Dora Tovar filed to run for this open seat. Incumbent Marvin Sutton was elected to the seat in 2019. He filed to run for mayor instead of running for re-election.

District 4

Incumbent Andrew Piel will face Hunter Crow, Billy McClendon Jr., Nehal Mehta, Anne Nwaefulu, and Cheyenne Zokaie in the general election. Piel was elected to this seat in 2019.

District 5

Rebecca Boxall and Kennedy Jones filed to run for this open seat. Incumbent Ignacio Nunez was elected to this seat in 2019. He did not file for re-election.

District 8

Incumbent Barbara Odom-Wesley will face Chris Dobson in the general election. Odom-Wesley was elected to the seat in 2019.

Arlington is the 50th largest city by population in the United States. Thirty-one mayoral elections are being held in the 100 largest U.S. cities in 2021. As of February 2021, the partisan breakdown of the mayors of the 100 largest U.S. cities was 64 Democrats, 25 Republicans, four independents, and seven nonpartisans.

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Eight candidates file to run for mayor of Jackson, Mississippi

The city of Jackson, Mississippi, will hold a partisan primary for mayor on April 6, 2021. The filing deadline for this election was February 6. If no candidate receives at least 50% of the vote in the primary election, a primary runoff election will be held on April 27 between the top two candidates. The general election is scheduled for June 8.

Incumbent Chokwe Antar Lumumba, Patty Patterson, and Kennetha Wilson are running in the Democratic primary. Ponto Downing and Jason Wells are running in the Republican primary. Independent candidates Shafeqah Lodree, Charlotte Reeves, and Les Tannehill will appear on the general election ballot.

Lumumba was elected the 53rd mayor of Jackson in 2017. He defeated incumbent Tony Yarber and seven other candidates in the May 2, 2017, Democratic primary election with 55% of the vote. He went on to win the general election with 92.9% of the vote.

Ballotpedia will also be covering the eight Jackson City Council seats that are on the ballot in 2021. Seven incumbents have filed for re-election.

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Ohio village council recall election to be held Feb. 23

A special recall election seeking to remove four Woodmere Village Council members from their seats is scheduled for February 23, 2021. Woodmere is a town in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, with a population of 884 people as of the 2010 census. The board members subject to recall are board president Jennifer Mitchell Earley and members Glenda Todd Miller, Lisa Brockwell, and Craig Wade.

The recall election ballot asks one question for each of the four members: “Shall [council member’s name] be allowed to continue as Member of Council?” If a majority of the votes are in the affirmative, the member will remain in office; if a majority of the votes are in the negative, the member will be recalled. The question of replacement for any recalled member is not on the ballot and will be addressed after the recall election, if necessary.

The recall effort began in October 2020. Recall petitioners, known collectively as the Woodmere Project, cited the council’s failure to install a sidewalk along the village’s main road and its inability to keep the village’s website up-to-date as grounds for the recall. Petitioners also accused the four council members of pitting residents against each other.

The recall opponents alleged that a lack of transparency about the contents of the recall petition misled the residents who signed it. Petitioners were required to obtain 45 signatures to get the recall on the ballot.

The recall election was originally scheduled for January 19, 2021, but was canceled after the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections determined petitioners did not submit the required number of signatures. The effort was initially certified as having enough signatures due to confusion over whether petitioners were submitting initial or supplemental signatures. Petitioners then re-submitted signatures sufficient to get the recall on the ballot on February 23.

In 2020, Ballotpedia covered a total of 226 recall efforts against 272 elected officials. Of the 49 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 29 were recalled for a rate of 59%. That was higher than the 52% rate for 2019 recalls but lower than the 63% rate for 2018 recalls.

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Special election approaches Feb. 23 in New York City Council District 31

The special general election for New York City Council District 31 is on February 23, 2021. Nine candidates are competing in the special election. The filing deadline to run passed on December 16, 2020. 

The special election was called when Donovan Richards left office after he was elected Queens Borough President in November. Richards served on the city council from 2013 to 2020.

The February 23 election will be the second election in New York City to use a ranked-choice voting system. In 2019, New Yorkers passed a ballot measure that instituted ranked-choice voting in special elections to local offices.

In ranked-choice voting, voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots. If a candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, he or she is declared the winner. If no candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated. First preference votes cast for the failed candidate are eliminated, lifting the second-preference choices indicated on those ballots. A new tally is conducted to determine whether any candidate has won a majority of the adjusted votes. The process is repeated until a candidate wins an outright majority. 

Ranked-choice voting in New York City is the subject of an ongoing court challenge. On December 16, 2020, a state trial court declined to block the implementation of ranked-choice voting, but the decision is being appealed.  

The New York City Council consists of 51 members. New York is the largest city by population in the U.S.

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Oklahoma voters decide school board primary elections

Primaries for school board elections were held in Oklahoma on February 9. Ballotpedia is covering elections for 35 seats across 27 Oklahoma school boards in 2021. These 27 school districts served a combined total of 261,543 students during the 2016-2017 school year.

Seventeen seats were won outright by unopposed candidates. There were 13 seats where two candidates automatically advanced from the primary to the general election on April 6. The remaining five seats held primaries between three or more candidates. Elections can be won outright in the primary if a candidate receives more than 50% of the vote.

  • In the Edmond Public School District, Margaret Best and incumbent Lee Ann Kuhlman advanced to the general election for the District 1 seat. Best and Kuhlman earned 34% and 27% of the vote, respectively.
  • In the Oklahoma City Public School District, Charles Henry and incumbent Paula Lewis advanced to the general election for the chairperson seat. Henry and Lewis earned 48% and 44% of the vote, respectively.
  • In the Owasso Public School District, Stephanie Ruttman and Rick Lang advanced to the general election for the Ward 1 seat. Ruttman and Lang earned 31% and 24% of the vote, respectively.
  • In the Putnam City Public School District, Judy Mullen Hopper won outright in the primary for Seat 3. Hopper earned 66% of the vote against two other candidates including incumbent Sky Collins.
  • In the Tulsa Public School District, Judith Barba won outright in the primary for Seat 2. Barba earned 53% of the vote against two other candidates.

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Colorado school board recall election to be held Feb. 16

A recall election seeking to remove Lance McDaniel from his position as the District A representative on the Montezuma-Cortez School District Board of Education in Colorado is being held on February 16, 2021. 

The recall election ballot has two questions. One asks if voters are in favor of recalling McDaniel with the option to vote yes or no. The other question lists the successor candidates. If a majority of voters cast ballots in favor of recalling McDaniel, the successor candidate who receives the most votes will replace him on the board. If a majority of voters cast ballots against recalling McDaniel, he will retain his position on the board.

The filing deadline for successor candidates was January 8. Cody Wells was the only candidate to file.

The recall effort started in July 2020. Recall supporters said McDaniel had shown a “lack of leadership and has proven to be a poor role model for our children,” regarding several of his social media posts. The petition stated, “We need school board members that understand leadership and the power of mentoring, and know not to voice their personal, political, or social opinions that could influence children.”

McDaniel said he was not concerned about the recall effort. “When it gets down to it, I’m a loudmouth liberal, and they don’t like that,” he said. McDaniel said he stood by his social media posts. “The conservatives don’t like the fact that there are some more progressive people in the town,” he said.

To get the recall on the ballot, supporters of the effort had to submit 1,126 signatures in 60 days. The number of signatures was equal to 40% of the citizens in the school district who voted in the last school board election. Recall supporters submitted the signatures by the deadline, and Montezuma County Clerk and Recorder Kim Percell determined enough signatures were valid. Before a recall election could be scheduled, four challenges were submitted against the petition, saying the petition was “baseless, frivolous and infringes on Mr. McDaniel’s First Amendment rights of freedom of speech.” A hearing on the challenges was held on November 19, and the challenges were denied on November 23. Hearing Officer Mike Green said that the recall petition met the statutory requirements.

McDaniel is one of seven members on the board of education. He was appointed to his position in 2018.

In 2020, Ballotpedia covered a total of 226 recall efforts against 272 elected officials. Of the 49 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 29 were recalled for a rate of 59%. That was higher than the 52% rate for 2019 recalls but lower than the 63% rate for 2018 recalls.

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Burlington, Vermont voters will decide on March 2 whether to adopt ranked-choice voting for city council elections

On March 2, Burlington, Vermont voters will decide Question 4, a measure to implement ranked-choice voting for city council elections beginning in March 2022.

The Burlington City Council attempted to place a ranked-choice voting measure on the November 2020 ballot, but it was vetoed by Mayor Miro Weinberger (D) after receiving a 6-5 vote from the city council. It would have implemented RCV for city council, mayoral, and school commissioner elections. The council amended the measure to only include city council elections and reconsidered it for the March 2021 ballot. It was approved on September 22, 2020. Mayor Weinberger signed the measure on October 3, 2020. 

The vote will be the first time the city voters decide on RCV after repealing it in 2010. In 2005, Burlington voters amended the city’s charter to implement RCV—referred to as instant runoff—for mayoral elections. The 2005 measure was approved by 64% to 36%. It was used in the 2006 and 2009 mayoral elections.

On March 2, 2010, voters repealed ranked-choice by a vote of 52% to 48%. The measure to repeal ranked-choice voting was placed on the ballot through a ballot initiative petition drive after the 2009 mayoral election.

The Yes on 4: Better Ballot Burlington campaign is co-chaired by Former Governor Howard Dean (D) and City Councilmember Zoraya Hightower (Vermont Progressive Party). Hightower said, “I believe [RCV] helps elect leaders that are more representative of our city and cities across the country.” Mayor Weinberger opposes the amended measure saying, “[Prior use of ranked-choice voting] led to campaigns being very hesitant to define differences and distinctions between themselves on substance because of concerns of alienating second and third votes from other candidates. I was a campaign chair of a mayoral election during that period. I just don’t think it worked well.”

A ranked-choice voting system (RCV) is an electoral system in which voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots. If a candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, he or she is declared the winner. If no candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated. First-preference votes cast for the failed candidate are eliminated, lifting the second-preference choices indicated on those ballots. A new tally is conducted to determine whether any candidate has won a majority of the adjusted votes. The process is repeated until a candidate wins an outright majority.

As of 2021, one state (Maine) had implemented RCV at the state level, one state (Alaska) had adopted but not implemented RCV, eight states contained jurisdictions that had implemented RCV at some level, and another five states contained jurisdictions—including New York City—that had adopted but not yet implemented RCV in local elections.

All active registered Burlington voters will be receiving an absentee ballot the week of February 8. Voters may return their absentee ballot by mail, drop box, or at an election polling place on March 2. Polling places will be open from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm on election day. Voters may register to vote in-person on election day.

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