CategoryLocal

Voters approve California school board recall election

A recall election seeking to remove Leanne Ibarra and Jose Lara from their positions on the El Rancho Unified School District Board of Education in California was approved by voters on June 2, 2020. Joseph Rivera was elected to replace Lara, and Esther Mejia was elected to replace Ibarra. The election was conducted entirely by mail-in ballot in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lara resigned from his seat effective February 5, 2020. At a school board meeting on January 21, 2020, Lara said he was leaving in order to focus on his family while his son recuperated from an illness. His name was still on the recall election ballot. If a majority of voters had cast ballots to retain him, the school board would have appointed his replacement.

The recall effort began in May 2019. Recall supporters listed a number of concerns with the board, including a vote to notify 23 administrators they could be fired or reassigned, a vote to demote, transfer, and release six administrators, and the alleged mismanagement of a $200 million bond. To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters had to collect at least 6,509 signatures by October 23, 2019. In an interview with the Whittier Daily News, Lara said, “The community of Pico Rivera has been driven along a misinformation campaign. They’ve only heard one side of the story.”

Lara was first elected to the five-member board on November 5, 2013, and Ibarra was first elected on November 6, 2018. Before Lara resigned, Lara and Ibarra were members of a three-person majority on the board, according to the Whittier Daily News. The third member of the majority, Gabriel Orosco, was not included in the recall effort as his term is up for election in 2020. The other two members of the board supported the recall.

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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Idaho library district trustees retained in recall election

A recall election seeking to remove four of the five trustees of the Priest Lake Library District board in Idaho was defeated by voters. The effort sought to recall Debbie Sudnikovich, Laurel Smith, Nancy Bushman, and Lori McReynolds after they voted to fire library director Beverly Richmond in September 2019. All four trustees retained their seats.

The election was held by mail-in ballot. Voters had to request their ballots by May 19, 2020, and they had until June 2, 2020, to return their ballots.

Rosemary Yocum, leader of the recall effort and a former trustee of the library district board, said the trustees violated state law because they fired Richmond without cause. Yocum said Richmond was not an at-will employee and that the board broke statutes governing open meetings and executive sessions. The recall petition also said that the four trustees had treated district citizens in a condescending manner and had failed to fulfill their duties of office.

In her response to the recall, McReynolds said Richmond was an at-will employee. She said their decision was made with the best interest of the community in mind. Sudnikovich said the former library director had been under review since November 2018 prior to her being let go. She said improvements to employee morale and the library’s management and atmosphere reinforced that, “the decision to terminate the former director was both reasonable and appropriate.”

The recall effort was initially approved for the March primary ballot, but it was taken off after an order from the district board did not get filed in time for that election. It was instead scheduled for May 19. The May 19 election was then changed to a mail-in ballot election and extended to June 2 due to 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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Voters approve $130 million bond issue for Fort Wayne, Indiana, Community Schools

In Allen County, Indiana, voters approved a $130 million bond issue for the Fort Wayne Community Schools district, which is the second-largest school district in the state. The measure was approved 74 percent to 26 percent on June 2.

The ballot measure allowed the school district to issue bonds to fund repairs and renovations to 37 buildings. It was estimated to increase the property tax rate by $148.60 per $100,000 in assessed value, replacing expiring debt service property taxes.

The measure, known as REPAIR FWCS 2020, was the third measure in a series of three public votes concerning Fort Wayne Community Schools (FWCS) School Basic Renewal/Restoration and Safety Projects. The first phase of the school renovations (known as REPAIR FWCS) was approved by voters in May of 2012. The second phase of the school renovations (known as REPAIR Phase 2) was approved by voters in May of 2016.


Kansas City, MO, voters approve a ballot measure to increase the sales tax for fire department operations

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Kansas City Question 1 was approved on June 2. The measure received 55 percent of the vote. Question 1 was designed to increase the sales tax by 0.25 percentage points, bringing the total city-levied sales tax to 3.25 percent (in addition to county and state sales taxes). Under Question 1, revenue from the sales tax increase will be used for Kansas City Fire Department operations.

Question 1 was put on the ballot through a 10-2 vote of the Kansas City Council on January 23, 2020.


Voters in the West Ada School District, Idaho, rejected a ballot measure to renew a $14 million property tax levy

Voters in West Ada School District, located in Ada and Canyon Counties, Idaho, rejected a ballot measure to renew a $14 million per year supplemental property tax levy for the period between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2022. According to results released on June 2, 54 percent of voters rejected the ballot measure.

The two-year supplemental levy has been renewed four times since 2012. The renewal would not have increased the total levy raised by the school district. At the time of the election, the existing total levy rate was $351 per $100,000 of assessed property value.

This measure was put on the ballot for the May 19 election, but the absentee ballot return deadline was delayed to June 2 due to the coronavirus pandemic, which meant results weren’t available until Tuesday.

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Philadelphia voters approve two charter amendment ballot measures

Voters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, approved two amendments to the city’s charter on June 2.

Question 1 created a Philadelphia Department of Labor, along with a Board of Labor Standards, to administer and enforce citywide labor laws and collective bargaining agreements. According to election night results, Question 1 had 80 percent of the vote.

Question 2 changed the city’s charter to state that appointed officers and employees can volunteer for statewide candidates. Before Question 2, the city’s charter said that appointed officers and employees could not take part in the management or affairs of a political campaign but did not specify how that relates to non-managerial volunteer activity. Question 2 was approved by 65 percent of voters.

Both Question 1 and Question 2 were placed on the ballot through a unanimous vote of the Philadelphia City Council.

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Montana mayoral recall effort advances to the ballot

An effort in Stevensville, Montana, to recall Mayor Brandon Dewey was initiated in March 2020. Petitions were approved for circulation on April 7, giving petitioners until July 6 to submit 251 valid signatures in order to put the recall election on the ballot. Petitions were accepted by Ravalli County Clerk and Recorder Regina Plettenberg on May 22, and 254 signatures were found valid. Dewey has until June 4 to provide a written statement that will be placed on the ballot. Plettenberg has said that the recall election will likely take place on August 4.

The recall effort is organized by resident Leanna Rodabaugh in response to Dewey signing a $79,800 contract with First Call Computer Solutions on behalf of the town. Petitions accuse Dewey of violating his oath of office because contracts of that size would normally require approval from the town council. Rodabaugh said that the way the contract was signed bypassed the competitive bid and contract award process.

Dewey responded to the recall effort and said, “If you strictly took state law and municipal ordinance, I think, yes, a case could be made that there was some impropriety. But that’s only true if you completely ignore the purchasing policy which the council adopted a number of years ago and has reviewed on a regular basis since delegating this authority to department heads and the mayor.”

Dewey sent a letter to Plettenberg after the signatures were verified. He wrote that the recall petition is “invalid and should be rejected on the basis of unsworn falsification and tampering with public records or information. These facts presented in the meeting by City Attorney Scott Owens conclude that there was no merit to the allegations brought forth, now presented in the recall petition, and that no illegal action had been taken by the mayor or administration. Ms. Rodabaugh was aware of these facts when submitting the petition and further omitted the authority given to the Mayor in the purchasing policy from the language in the petition she submitted. Therefore, she has knowingly submitted false allegations and information in the recall petition.”

In a town council meeting after the contract was signed, Stevensville Town Attorney Scott Owens stated that Dewey did nothing illegal because, while an agreement had been signed by the mayor for an amount of money that usually would require council approval, the money had been included in the budget that the council approved and was only being paid out incrementally. Owens said that Dewey’s actions were close to illegality but did not cross the line.

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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California school board recall to be held Tuesday

A recall election seeking to remove Leanne Ibarra and Jose Lara from their positions on the El Rancho Unified School District Board of Education in California is scheduled for June 2, 2020. The election is being conducted by mail-in ballot in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The candidate filing deadline passed on March 6; Allan Maciel and Joseph Rivera filed to run for Lara’s position, and Esther Mejia filed to run for Ibarra’s position.

Although Ibarra is still contesting the recall effort, Lara resigned from his seat effective February 5, 2020. At a school board meeting on January 21, Lara said he was leaving in order to focus on his family while his son recuperated from an illness. His name will still be on the recall election ballot, and if a majority of voters cast ballots to retain him, the school board will appoint his replacement.

The recall effort began in May 2019. Recall supporters listed a number of concerns with the board, including a vote to notify 23 administrators they could be fired or reassigned, a vote to demote, transfer, or release six administrators, and the alleged mismanagement of a $200 million bond. In an interview with the Whittier Daily News, Lara responded and said, “The community of Pico Rivera has been driven along a misinformation campaign. They’ve only heard one side of the story.”

Lara was first elected to the five-member board on November 5, 2013, and Ibarra was first elected on November 6, 2018. Before Lara resigned, he and Ibarra were members of a three-person majority on the board, according to the Whittier Daily News. The third member of the majority, Gabriel Orosco, was not included in the recall effort since his term is up for election in 2020. The other two board members support the recall effort. To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters had to collect at least 6,509 signatures by October 23, 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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Voters decide municipal and school board races in Chesapeake and Norfolk, Virginia

Chesapeake and Norfolk, Virginia, held nonpartisan general elections for municipal and school board offices on May 19, 2020.

Candidates ran in elections for the following offices:

Mayor of Chesapeake
• Incumbent Richard West defeated Lenard Myers, Steffanie Aubuchon, and Palmer Smith.

Chesapeake City Council
• Don Carey III and incumbents S.Z. Ritter and Robert Ike won at-large seats on the nine-member council.

Chesapeake School Board
• Angie Swygert and incumbents Samuel Boone, Victoria Proffitt, and Tom Mercer won at-large seats on the nine-member school board.

Mayor of Norfolk
• Incumbent Kenny Alexander ran unopposed.

Norfolk City Council
• Incumbents Andria McClellan and Angelia Williams Graves won re-election to their city council seats in Superwards 6 and 7, respectively. Both ran unopposed.

Norfolk School Board
• Incumbents Noelle Gabriel and Rodney Jordan won re-election to the school board in Superwards 6 and 7, respectively.

Norfolk and Chesapeake are the second- and third-most populous cities in Virginia and the 80th- and 90th-most populous in the U.S.

Together, the Norfolk and Chesapeake school districts served a total of 71,422 students during the 2017-2018 school year.

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Portland voters approve income tax to fund homeless services and gas tax renewal

Voters in the Portland Metro area in Oregon approved Measure 26-210 on Tuesday, authorizing an income surtax and business tax to fund homeless services. The measure authorizes a 1% tax on household income above $200,000 and individual income above $150,000 and a 1% profit tax on businesses with gross receipts higher than $5 million. The income tax was designed to be on resident and non-resident income earned within the Metro area.

Metro officials estimated the combined revenue of the income and business taxes to be $248 million per year. The tax would take effect in 2021 and expire in 2030. Measure 26-210 required that the revenue raised by the income and business taxes be divided according to the proportion expected to be received from the three counties that make up Portland Metro. Multnomah County was set to receive 45.3% of the revenue, Washington County was set to receive 33.3%, and Clackamas County was set to receive 21.3%. A 20-member oversight committee will be formed to conduct and publish annual financial audits.

Vote totals available as of Wednesday afternoon showed voters approving Measure 26-210 by a vote of 63% to 37%. Voters in Multnomah county approved the measure by a vote of 77% in favor to 23% opposed. Voters in Washington County approved the measure by a vote of 52% in favor to 48% opposed. Voters in Clackamas county rejected the measure by a vote of 53% opposed to 47% in favor. Here Together Coalition led the campaign in support of Measure 26-210. Alliance for an Affordable Metro led the campaign in opposition to Measure 26-210.

Portland voters also approved Measure 26-209 to authorize the renewal of the city’s gas tax for four years at a rate of $0.10 per gallon and dedicate revenues to infrastructure repairs. City officials estimated the gas tax would raise $74.5 million over four years. The $0.10 gas tax was first approved in 2016. Vote totals available as of Wednesday afternoon showed voters approving Measure 26-209 by a vote of 77% to 23%. The measure was approved in each county.

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