CategoryLocal

Idaho county commission recall elections defeated despite majority of votes in favor

A recall election seeking to remove Rick Ellis and Roy Hubert from their positions as Lincoln County Commissioners in Idaho was held on August 25, 2020. Though 73% of voters cast ballots in favor of recalling the two commissioners, both recalls were defeated. In order to be approved, the recalls needed at least as many votes as the officeholders received when they were elected. A minimum of 710 votes in favor of recall was needed to remove Ellis from office, and 704 were cast. A minimum of 833 votes was needed to remove Hubert from office, and 698 were cast.

The recall effort began after the two commissioners voted to build a new courthouse in a different location in the county. Recall supporters said they were seeking recall due to a “willful disregard for the wishes and desires of the public” and “deliberately ignoring the results of two public surveys regarding the renovation of the courthouse.”

Ellis said the issues surrounding the courthouse started when the community took a survey detailing what they wanted in regards to renovations. He said that the survey results showed that “they wanted to renovate the existing courthouse and build a new, approximately 12,000 square foot annex.” He said that the same survey showed that residents would vote in favor of a bond for that project. However, when it came time to vote, “fifty-one percent showed up to support the bond, and it failed. Because it took a super majority of 67 percent to win,” Ellis said.

To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters had to submit petitions with 442 signatures by April 3. They submitted 608 signatures on the deadline, and the county verified 563.

Ellis was first elected to the three-member commission in 2018. Hubert was appointed to the commission in 2011 by Gov. Butch Otter (R), and he retained his seat in elections in 2012 and 2016.

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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Ballotpedia tracking 18 local police-related ballot measures in six states

As of August 21, Ballotpedia is tracking 18 local police-related ballot measures in 13 jurisdictions in six states. These local ballot measures were proposed in the wake of the killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020.

Seven of the 18 measures are on the ballot in California and four are on the ballot in Pennsylvania. The most common policy addressed by the ballot measures was police oversight boards and offices and the duties and powers of these boards and offices. Nine of the ballot measures addressed police oversight. Other topics include police and criminal justice funding, staffing levels, law enforcement training, and the public disclosure of police camera footage involving deaths and serious injuries.

The following is a list of local police-related measures on the ballot for November 3, 2020:
  1. Los Angeles County, California: Voters will decide a ballot measure to require that no less than 10% of the county’s General Fund be appropriated to youth, job, business, and housing programs and alternatives to incarceration.
  2. Oakland, California: The Oakland City Council referred to the ballot a charter amendment that would create an Office of the Inspector General to review the police commission’s policies, as well as change the powers, duties, and staffing of the commission and police review board.
  3. San Diego, California: The San Diego City Council referred a ballot measure to create a Commission on Police Practices, which would conduct investigations and subpoena witnesses and documents related to deaths resulting from police interactions and complaints made against police officers.
  4. San Francisco, California: Voters will decide two ballot measures related to policing. One would remove the minimum police staffing level required (1,971 full-time police officers) from the city’s charter. The other measure would create the Sheriff’s Department Oversight Board and the Sheriff’s Department Office of Inspector General.
  5. San Jose, California: The San Jose City Council referred a charter amendment to the ballot that would authorize an independent police auditor to review reports and records related to officer-involved shootings and uses of force.
  6. Sonoma County, California: Voters will decide Measure P, which would make changes to the county’s Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach.
  7. DuPage County, Illinois: There are two non-binding advisory votes on the ballot. One advises the county on considering law enforcement and public safety as its top budgeting priority, and the other advises the county on funding and supporting law enforcement training methods that are designed to decrease the risk of injury to officers and suspects.
  8. Akron, Ohio: Voters will decide a ballot measure to require police body and dashboard camera recordings that document police use of force resulting in a death or serious injury to be released to the public.
  9. Columbus, Ohio: The Columbus City Council referred a charter amendment to the ballot that would create a Civilian Police Review Board to investigate alleged police misconduct, subpoena testimony and evidence during an investigations, and make recommendations to the Division of Police.
  10. Portland, Oregon: Voters will decide a ballot measure to establish a new police oversight board, give the board subpoena powers, and allow the board to impose disciplinary actions, including termination, on law enforcement professionals.
  11. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Voters in Philadelphia will decide two police-related ballot measures and one other criminal justice proposal. One measure would add language to the city charter calling on the police department to “eliminate the practice of unconstitutional stop and frisk, consistent with judicial precedent.” The other police-related measure would create a Citizens Police Oversight Commission. Another measure would create an Office of the Victim Advocate to act as an advocate for crime victims and co-victims.
  12. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: The Pittsburgh City Council referred a charter amendment to the ballot that would authorize the Independent Citizen Police Review Board to audit the police bureau and require police officers to cooperate with the board’s investigations.
  13. King County, Washington: Two police-related measures will be on the ballot. One would make the county sheriff an appointed, rather than elected, position. The second measure would give the county council the authority to define the sheriff’s duties.
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Judge allows recall election to move forward in Stevensville, Montana

A Ravalli County District Court judge has ruled that there are sufficient grounds for a recall election to move forward against Stevensville Mayor Brandon Dewey. Judge Howard Recht’s ruling on August 14 said that Dewey “acted outside the law and without legal authority” when he signed a $79,800 contract with First Call Computer Solutions on behalf of the town. In June, Dewey filed a lawsuit with the district court, arguing that the recall shouldn’t have been approved for circulation. Dewey’s position was that the recall petitions misrepresented the situation surrounding the recall effort.

The recall effort is organized by resident Leanna Rodabaugh. Petitions accused Dewey of violating his oath of office because contracts of the size of the First Call contract 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.

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. The recall election is scheduled to take place by mail-in ballots on November 3, 2020.

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.”

Dewey provided a written statement that will be included on the recall election ballot:

“The Mayor did not violate Montana Law, Stevensville Code, or his oath in authorizing the purchase of IT services needed for the Town. The Town’s Attorney investigated and determined that all purchasing activities were done legally and compliant with laws.

“Montana law has a process for bidding when dealing with “other than professional, technical, engineering, or legal services.” This process does not apply to IT services. According to MCA 7 5-4301 contracts for professional, technical, engineering, or legal services are excluded from certain provisions.

“The Council adopted a Purchasing Policy in 2014 to delegate authority to departments and the Mayor for purchases in varying dollar amounts. Though this policy, the Council puts trust in the Mayor to spend within the budget without direct oversight.

“The purchasing policy states that for other professional services, including non-construction services totaling between $1,501 – $25,000 per agreement, purchases contained in the current fiscal year budget …, Departiment Supervisor’s need only get confirmation by the Mayor prior to purchasing.

“With Council’s approval in the 2019-2020 Budget, the services totaling less than $25,000 in FY2019-2020 was consented to by the Town Council. The Council had authorized several payments to the vendor after the Mayor authorized the purchase.”

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.



Recall petition filed against Seattle City Councilwoman Sawant

On August 18, a formal recall petition was filed with the King County Elections Office against Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant. Sawant was first elected to the council to represent District 3 in 2013, when she defeated then-incumbent Richard Conlin by 3,151 votes. She won re-election to the seat in 2019.

The recall petition was filed by District 3 resident Ernest “Ernie” Lou on behalf of the Recall City of Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant Committee. The Washington Constitution requires that recall petitioners establish grounds for a recall, specifically that the targeted public official has engaged in the “commission of some act or acts of malfeasance or misfeasance while in office, or who has violated his oath of office.” Lou’s petition alleges six specific grounds against Kshama, including: relinquishing the authority of her office; misusing city resources; misusing her official position; using her council position to encourage rally protestors to illegally occupy city property; using her position to lead a march to the Seattle mayor’s private residence; and creating a criminal toxic environment around the Capitol Hill Occupation Protest (CHOP) Zone. At the time of publication, Sawant had not responded to the allegations.

The King County Elections Office must turn over the petition to the King County Prosecuting Attorney Office for review. A judge will then decide if the allegations meet the constitutional standard for a recall. If at least one of the allegations is deemed to meet the standard, the petition will move to the signature-gathering phase, and petitioners will be required to collect signatures from over 10,700 registered voters, equal to 25% of the total votes cast in the last District 3 election.

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.

Additional reading:


Idaho county commission recall election to be held August 25

A recall election seeking to remove Rick Ellis and Roy Hubert from their positions as Lincoln County Commissioners in Idaho is scheduled for August 25, 2020. The effort began after the two commissioners voted to build a new courthouse in a different location in the county. Recall supporters said they were seeking recall due to a “willful disregard for the wishes and desires of the public” and “deliberately ignoring the results of two public surveys regarding the renovation of the courthouse.”

Ellis said the issues surrounding the courthouse started when the community took a survey detailing what they wanted in regards to renovations. He said that the survey results showed that “they wanted to renovate the existing courthouse and build a new, approximately 12,000 square foot annex.” He said that the same survey showed that residents would vote in favor of a bond for that project. However, when it came time to vote, “fifty-one percent showed up to support the bond, and it failed. Because it took a super majority of 67 percent to win,” Ellis said.

To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters had to submit petitions with 442 signatures by April 3. They submitted 608 signatures on the deadline, and the county verified 563.

Ellis was first elected to the three-member commission in 2018. Hubert was appointed to the commission in 2011 by Gov. Butch Otter (R), and he retained his seat in elections in 2012 and 2016.

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.

Additional reading:


John Mina wins Democratic nomination for a full term as Orange County Sheriff

Orange County, Florida, Sheriff John Mina (D) defeated four challengers to win the Democratic nomination for his first full term in an August 18 primary. As of 8:00 p.m. on election night, Mina had received 44.4% of the vote, followed by Andrew Darling with 19.2% and Jose Lopez with 15.7%.

Mina, a former Orlando chief of police, was first elected in 2018 to complete the remainder of Jerry Demings’ (D) term as sheriff after Demings won election as mayor of Orange County. He says during his first two years in office, crime rates fell and officers recorded fewer instances of use of force.

Mina faces independent write-in candidates Tim Lucas Adams and Winston Johnson in the November general election. No Republican candidate filed for the office.


Monique Worrell wins Democratic nomination for Orange County State Attorney

Monique Worrell won the Democratic nomination for Orange County State Attorney in a primary on August 18. As of 9:00 p.m. on election night, Worrell had received 42% of the vote to Belvin Perry Jr.’s 32% and Deborah Barra’s 20%.

Worrell, an attorney and former law professor, had endorsements from vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris (D) and incumbent Aramis Ayala (D), who is not seeking re-election. Worrell will face independent Jose Torroella in the November general election.


Esteban Bovo Jr. and Daniella Levine Cava advance to general election in Miami-Dade mayoral race

Esteban Bovo Jr. and Daniella Levine Cava were the top-two finishers in the nonpartisan primary for Miami-Dade County Mayor on August 18. As of 9:45 p.m. Eastern Time on election night, Bovo and Cava had received 30% and 29% of the vote, respectively, with 92% of precincts reporting. Because neither candidate received 50% of the vote, they will advance to the general election in November.

Although the mayoral race is nonpartisan, Bovo is a member of the Republican Party and Cava is a member of the Democratic Party. Incumbent Carlos Gimenez, who was first elected in 2011, is running as a Republican to challenge Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D) rather than seeking re-election, leaving the seat open.


California school board recall petition approved for circulation

A petition to recall John Crabtree from his position as president and Trustee Area 4 representative of the Visalia Unified School District Board of Education in California was approved for circulation in August 2020. Recall supporters must collect 2,411 signatures by November 18, 2020, to get the recall on the ballot.

The effort began in June 2020. Recall supporters listed the district’s budget deficit, the board’s decision not to build a fifth high school, and Crabtree’s allegedly negligent leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic as reasons for the recall effort.

Crabtree responded by saying that the district would not have a deficit if new student projections proved accurate, that the high school plan was canceled in the design phase due to cost increases, and that it was difficult for the district to build a virtual program from scratch at the end of the school year in response to the pandemic.

Crabtree was elected to the board in November 2013 and re-elected in November 2018. His term is scheduled to expire on December 9, 2022.

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.

Additional reading:


Willis defeats incumbent Howard Jr. in Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Democratic primary runoff

Fani Willis defeated incumbent Paul Howard Jr. in the Democratic primary runoff for Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney on August 11, 2020. With 15% of precincts reporting, Willis had received 74% of the vote to Howard Jr.’s with 26%.

Howard Jr. has been in office since 1997. Howard Jr. and Willis were the top-two finishers in a three-candidate primary on June 9.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote on August 4, “As the runoff nears, both candidates have been fiercely attacking one another, both during online debates and in ads. Howard has criticized Willis for accepting donations from police unions. Willis has condemned the DA for the sexual harassment complaints filed against him. (Howard strongly denies the allegations.)”

The county seat of Fulton County is Atlanta.



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