Recall petitions submitted against three school board members in Idaho

Petitions to recall three of the five members of the Pocatello-Chubbuck School District No. 25 board of trustees in Idaho were submitted on November 30, 2020. The county has until December 21, 2020, to verify the signatures.

The effort began on September 18 when recall supporters filed paperwork with the Bannock County Elections Office. 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 continued using the hybrid model into the second trimester. 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 topic 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 had to collect 164 signatures from registered voters in Zone 1. To get the recall effort against Gebhardt on the ballot, supporters had to collect 351 signatures from Zone 2, and to recall Mattson, they had to collect 206 signatures from Zone 5. All of the petition signatures had to be submitted by December 1. If the board members face the recall election, at least as many voters who first put them in office must vote to recall them in order for the recall election to be successful. The recall against Cranor would need 279 votes, the recall against Gebhardt would need 417 votes, and the recall against Mattson would need 278 votes.

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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Voters decide runoff elections for two school board seats in Little Rock, Arkansas

A runoff election was held on December 1 for two seats on the Little Rock School District school board in Arkansas. The general election took place on November 3, with the top two candidates in each district advancing to the runoff. The seven other seats on the board were decided in the general election.

Evelyn Hemphill Callaway defeated Tommy Branch with 67% of the unofficial election night vote for the Zone 3 seat. Vicki Hatter defeated FranSha’ Anderson with 59% of the vote for the Zone 6 seat. Callaway and Hatter will join Michael Mason, Sandrekkia Morning, Leigh Ann Wilson, Ali Noland, Norma Johnson, Greg Adams, and Jeff Wood on the newly elected board.

The nine newly elected board members will be the school district’s first elected board since 2015. In 2015, the Arkansas State Board of Education voted 5-4 to dissolve the district’s board of education following poor academic performance in six of the district’s schools. The state board of education voted in 2019 to return the school district to local governance after the election of a new board in 2020.

Ballotpedia covers school board elections in the 200 largest school districts by student enrollment and the school districts that overlap the 100 largest cities by population.

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Challenge to Colorado school board recall petition denied in hearing

An effort to recall Lance McDaniel from his position as the District A representative on the Montezuma-Cortez School District Board of Education in Colorado was approved to move forward in a petition challenge hearing on November 23, 2020. If the decision is not appealed in district court and if McDaniel does not resign by November 30, a recall election will be scheduled.

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 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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Kevin Lincoln defeats incumbent Michael Tubbs in Stockton mayoral race

The general election for Stockton, California, was held on November 3, 2020. The primary election was held on March 3, 2020, and the filing deadline to run passed on December 6, 2019.

In the mayoral race, Kevin Lincoln (R) defeated incumbent Michael Tubbs (D). As of November 19, Lincoln had earned 56.2% of the vote to Tubbs’s 43.9%. Mayoral elections in Stockton are nonpartisan, meaning that candidates’ party affiliations do not appear on the ballot.

Three seats on the seven-seat city council were up for nonpartisan election in 2020. The District 6 seat was on the ballot on November 3. As of November 19, Kimberly Warmsley led Gloria Allen with 70.1% of the vote to Allen’s 29.9%.

During the March 3 primary, incumbent Daniel Wright won the District 2 seat outright by earning more than 50% of the vote. In District 4, incumbent Susan Lenz was unopposed. 

Stockton is the 13th-largest city in California and the 63rd-largest city in the U.S. by population. 

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Recall petitions submitted against two Colorado school board members

Recall petitions seeking to remove Kurt Wassil and Stephanie Buker from their positions on the Elbert County School District C-2 school board in Colorado were submitted to the county for verification on November 13, 2020. The recall effort also initially included board member Stacy Morgan, but no petitions were submitted against her by the deadline. To get the recalls on the ballot, 244 petition signatures must be verified by the Elbert County Clerk and Recorder. The county has 15 days to review the signatures.

The recall petitions against the three board members were submitted to the county clerk and recorder on September 9 and deemed sufficient to circulate on September 14. The petitions read: “Our schools have suffered loss of staff, and extracurricular activities/programs. The art program was eliminated for K-12, yet the auto shop program continues for 6 students at a budget of over $35,000. Student enrollment/ratings are the lowest in Kiowa’s history and yet the superintendent is the highest paid in Kiowa’s history. Lack of support for staff and teachers has resulted in low morale, an unhealthy work environment, and a 42 percent turnover in teachers during 2018-2019.”

In reaction to the recall effort, Wassil said the board acknowledges every year that they are deficit budgeting. He said, “We try not to cut programs or classes, but we have to anticipate the budget each year, and there’s a lot of guesswork with the revenue, we get funds from a lot of different sources. A lot of times you don’t know what the revenue will be until school starts and we get an actual number of students who are enrolled.”

Wassil is serving his second term on the board, which expires in 2021. Buker is also serving her second term on the board, which expires in 2023. Morgan is serving her first term on the board, which expires in 2023.

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 sets timeline for appeal of recall petition against Seattle councilmember

The Washington Supreme Court will consider the appeal of a recall petition against Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant before the end of the year. Sawant filed an appeal in October after a superior court judge certified that four of the six grounds in the recall petition against her were legally sufficient to move the recall forward to the signature-gathering phase. On November 12, the Washington Supreme Court issued a timeline for the appeal: Sawant’s opening brief is due to the court by November 23, petitioners’ response is due on December 3, and Sawant’s reply is due by December 10. The court expects to rule on the appeal by January 7, 2021.

Sawant represents District 3 on the Seattle City Council. Though the office is officially nonpartisan, Sawant is a member of the Socialist Alternative Party and upon her election in 2013 was the first socialist elected to Seattle city government in 97 years. She was first elected to the council as an at-large member in 2013, when she beat four-term Democratic incumbent Richard Conlin 50.9% to 49.1%. When the council transitioned to district-based voting at the 2015 election, Sawant was re-elected to the council as the member for District 3. She won re-election to the District 3 seat in 2019 by 4.1 percentage points—51.8% to challenger Egan Orion’s 47.7%. A total of 42,956 votes were cast in the 2019 District 3 election, with Sawant receiving 22,263 votes, Orion receiving 20,488, and the remainder being cast for write-in candidates.

The recall against Sawant was initiated on August 18, 2020, when lead petitioner Ernie Lou submitted a formal recall petition to the King County Elections Office. Before a recall petition can move to the signature-gathering phase, Washington law dictates that a judicial review must find legally sufficient grounds for recall under the Washington Constitution. On September 16, King County Superior Court Judge Jim Rogers certified four of the six grounds for recall contained in the petition. Sawant subsequently appealed the decision to the Washington Supreme Court. If Sawant’s appeal is unsuccessful, petitioners would be required to gather over 10,700 signatures from registered voters to get the recall on the ballot, which equals 25% of the total votes cast in the last District 3 election held in 2019.

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 approves sheriff recall petition for circulation

The Washington Supreme Court ruled on November 6, 2020, that a recall effort seeking to remove Jerry Hatcher from his position as Benton County Sheriff could begin circulating petitions. 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. 

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. He said the guild would not let him take disciplinary action against employees who committed wrongdoing.

Recall supporters must collect 14,000 signatures in six months to get the recall on the ballot. The number of signatures is equal to 25% of the votes cast in the last sheriff election.

Two other sheriff recall efforts have been appealed to 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 Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza in December 2020.

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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At least four mayoral offices changed partisan control in the 100 largest cities Nov. 3

Twenty-nine of the 100 largest U.S. cities held mayoral elections in 2020. Of the 24 elections called so far, four party changes have taken place, with Republicans losing three offices and Democrats losing one. Democrats and independents each flipped two offices:

• In Honolulu, Hawaii, independent Rick Blangiardi won the open seat. Democratic mayor Kirk Caldwell was term-limited.

• In Irvine, California, Democrat Farrah Khan defeated incumbent Christina Shea (R).

• In San Diego, California, Democrat Todd Gloria won the open seat. The incumbent, Kevin Faulconer (R), was term-limited.

• In Scottsdale, Arizona, independent David Ortega won the open seat. Incumbent Jim Lane (R) was term-limited.

In those four cities—and in most of the nation’s largest cities—mayoral elections are officially nonpartisan, though many officeholders and candidates are affiliated with political parties. Ballotpedia uses one or more of the following sources to identify each officeholder’s partisan affiliation: (1) direct communication from the officeholder, (2) current or previous candidacy for partisan office, or (3) identification of partisan affiliation by multiple media outlets.

Democratic mayors oversaw 64 of the 100 largest cities at the beginning of 2020.

In 15 of the 29 cities that held elections in 2020, the incumbent was Republican at the start of 2020. Twelve incumbents were Democratic, one was independent, and one was nonpartisan.

Mayoral races in Riverside and Stockton, California, remain undecided. December runoff elections for mayor will be held in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Dec. 5); Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 12); and El Paso, Texas (Dec. 15).

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Abigail Spanberger (D) wins re-election in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District

Incumbent Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D) defeated challenger Nick Freitas (R) in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District.

Spanberger was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018, defeating incumbent Rep. Dave Brat (R) 50% to 48%. Preliminary results indicate Spanberger won re-election by a similar 51% to 49% margin.

The 7th District was one of 30 districts Democrats were defending nationwide this year that Donald Trump (R) carried in the 2016 presidential election. In that election, Trump defeated Hillary Clinton (D) 51% to 44% in the district.

Both parties’ national committees targeted the district; the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) added Spanberger to its Frontline program, which allocates funds and resources to Democratic candidates in competitive races, while the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) added Freitas to its Young Guns program, the Republican Party’s equivalent fundraising program.

The DCCC and House Majority PAC spent a combined $3.9 million on the race, while the NRCC and Congressional Leadership Fund spent a combined $5.0 million.

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Incumbent Mayor Ted Wheeler wins re-election in Portland, Oregon

Image of City Hall in Portland, Oregon.

Incumbent Ted Wheeler defeated Sarah Iannarone and write-in candidate Teressa Raiford in the general election for mayor of Portland, Oregon. Wheeler was first elected in 2016.

Nineteen candidates ran in the May 19 primary. Wheeler received 49.1%, Iannarone received 24%, and Raiford received 8.5%. In 2016, Wheeler won during the primary with 55% of the vote.

This race drew media attention following protests in Portland over law enforcement’s use of force and the death of George Floyd. During his campaign, Wheeler said he led on police reform and the city’s COVID-19 response.