Tagrecall

California county commission recall election to be held Feb. 1

A recall election against District 2 representative Leonard Moty on the Shasta County Board of Supervisors in California is scheduled for Feb. 1. Two questions are on the ballot. The first is a yes/no question asking voters whether or not they would like to recall Moty. The second is a replacement question listing candidates who filed to run for Moty’s seat if a majority of voters vote yes on the first question. Tim Garman, Dale Ball, Tony Hayward, and Tarick Mahmoud filed to run in the replacement race.

The recall effort began in April 2021 and was initially against three of the five members of the board. District 1 representative Joe Chimenti and District 3 representative Mary Rickert were named along with Moty in the notices of intent to recall. Recall supporters filed signatures for the recall against Moty by the deadline on Sept. 29. They did not submit signatures for the other two commissioners.

Recall supporters cited the following reasons for recall: 

  1. “Betrayal of public trust by not defending the county from state government overreach” and
  2. “A need for fundamental change and irresponsible handling of taxpayer money.”

They also said the recall effort was the last resort to create change and that they could not wait until the next election.

After the recall election was scheduled, Moty said he would defend his position. “Now is not the time to tear us apart as some has sought,” Moty said. “But rather it’s a time to move our county forward. I will say here and now, I refuse to allow personal attacks on myself, my family, dedicated county workers, and courageous citizens by those who would halt our progress in our county.”

Moty was first elected to the board in 2008. He was re-elected to a four-year term on Nov. 3, 2020, receiving 51% of the vote and defeating two challengers.

In 2021, Ballotpedia covered a total of 351 recall efforts against 537 elected officials. This was the highest number of recall efforts and officials targeted since we started compiling data on recalls in 2012.

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3 Nebraska school board members keep seats in Jan. 11 recall elections

The Waverly and Leyton school districts in Nebraska held recall elections on Jan. 11 against a total of three school board members. A majority of voters cast ballots against all three recalls, keeping the board members in office.

Ward 4 representative Andy Grosshans was on the ballot in the Waverly School District 145. Recall supporters said they began the effort due to Grosshans’ vote to extend an emergency resolution giving the superintendent the power to “develop rules and regulations deemed necessary for the government and health of the district’s students and devise any means as may seem best to secure regular attendance and progress of students at school,” according to The Waverly News. The school board initially passed the emergency resolution in April 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In July 2021, the board voted to extend the resolution through the 2021-2022 school year.

In response to the recall effort, Grosshans said, “For 12+ years, I have worked hard to make well-informed decisions to provide the students of District 145 with a safe environment in which to receive an outstanding education. In these difficult times, I hope for continued understanding and patience as we use key resources and area experts to do what’s in the best interest of all students.”

Recall supporters had until Oct. 30 to collect 88 signatures to put the recall against Grosshans on the ballot. A total of 548 voters cast ballots against the recall, while 116 voted in favor.

Suzy Ernest and Roland Rushman were on the ballot in the Leyton school district. The recall petitions listed the district’s increased legal fees since January 2021 as reasons for the recall against both Ernest and Rushman. The petition against Ernest said she took action without the full board’s approval on two items: placing the superintendent on paid administrative leave and signing an acceptance for asbestos removal. The petition against Rushman said he failed to follow the Board Code of Ethics and slandered district administrators.

In response to the recall effort against her, Ernest said her action to place the superintendent on paid administrative leave was authorized in the superintendent’s contract. Both Ernest and Rushman said the decision to place the superintendent on paid administrative leave occurred after the board received serious complaints. They said those complaints were the reason behind the district’s increased legal fees. Ernest also said that she signed the acceptance for asbestos removal under the direction of the then-interim superintendent.

To get the recalls against Ernest and Rushman on the ballot, recall supporters had to collect 138 signatures for each member. A total of 246 voters cast ballots against recalling Ernest, while 196 voted in favor. In the recall election against Rushman, 264 voters voted against, and 179 voted in favor.

Ballotpedia tracked 91 school board recall efforts against 235 board members in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

In 2021, Ballotpedia covered a total of 346 recall efforts against 535 elected officials. This was the highest number of recall efforts and officials targeted since we started compiling data on recalls in 2012.

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Oregon school district to hold recall elections against two school board members Jan. 18

Recall elections against Dave Brown and Brian Shannon, the Zone 6 and 7 representatives on the Newberg School District school board in Oregon, respectively, are being held on Jan. 18. To get the recalls on the ballot, supporters had 90 days to collect signatures equal to 15% of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election in the board members’ respective zones

The recall effort against Shannon started after the board voted 4-3 on Aug. 10 to remove Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ pride flags in district schools. The ban also included political signs, clothing, and other items. Shannon wrote the motion for the ban and was joined in voting to approve it by Brown, Trevor DeHart, and Renee Powell. The board voted 4-3 on Sept. 28 to approve a policy banning all political symbols and images from schools. The same four members voted to approve the policy. In the same meeting, the board rescinded the previous policy that specifically mentioned Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ flags. The recall petitions said in part, “Brian Shannon has overreached, driving his ideological agenda in a manner that is both ethically and legally questionable. He does not represent the majority of us. Brian Shannon must be recalled.”

At the school board meeting on Sept 28, Shannon said, “This policy is so innocuous. It just says that teachers can’t display political symbols at work while they’re on school time. That should not be controversial.” He also said that the district needed to support all students. “It still goes back to the fact that we have a lot of kids that are impacted by this positively or negatively,” Brown said. “As a school board, it’s our job to make decisions that are going to be there for every single kid at Newberg High School, not just the kids that are represented in just one group – it has to be all kids.”

The effort to recall Brown began after the board voted 4-3 to fire Superintendent Joe Morelock without cause. Brown initiated the motion and voted in favor of firing Morelock. Morelock had been under contract through June 30, 2024. Recall supporters said the decision to fire Morelock “will cost the district hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

When asked about his decision to vote to fire Superintendent Joe Morelock, Brown talked about the number of students who were leaving the school district. “We’re well past 250 on our way to 300 students, minimum, and it’s growing,” Brown said. He said the district loses approximately $9,000 to $11,000 for each student who leaves. “For a lot of people who have left our school district – they’re a part of this bigger portion that doesn’t feel like they’re being listened to or talked to. And I feel like the culture is going to be the best thing for the student, staff member or parent,” Brown said.

Both Brown and Shannon were elected to the seven-member board in 2019.

Ballotpedia tracked 91 school board recall efforts against 235 board members in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

In 2021, Ballotpedia covered a total of 346 recall efforts against 535 elected officials. This was the highest number of recall efforts and officials targeted since we started compiling data on recalls in 2012.

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Two Nebraska school districts to hold recall elections Jan. 11

The Waverly and Leyton school districts in Nebraska are holding recall elections on Jan. 11 against a total of three school board members. Voters will be asked whether they are in favor of recalling the members from office with the option of voting yes or no.

Ward 4 representative Andy Grosshans is on the ballot in the Waverly school district. Recall supporters said they began the effort due to Grosshans’ vote to extend an emergency resolution giving the superintendent the power to “develop rules and regulations deemed necessary for the government and health of the district’s students and devise any means as may seem best to secure regular attendance and progress of students at school,” according to The Waverly News. The school board initially passed the emergency resolution in April 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In July 2021, the board voted to extend the resolution through the 2021-2022 school year.

In response to the recall effort, Grosshans said, “For 12+ years, I have worked hard to make well-informed decisions to provide the students of District 145 with a safe environment in which to receive an outstanding education. In these difficult times, I hope for continued understanding and patience as we use key resources and area experts to do what’s in the best interest of all students.”

Recall supporters had until Oct. 30 to collect 88 signatures to put the recall against Grosshans on the ballot.

Suzy Ernest and Roland Rushman are on the ballot in the Leyton school district. The recall petitions listed the district’s increased legal fees since January 2021 as reasons for the recall against both Ernest and Rushman. The petition against Ernest said she took action without the full board’s approval on two items: placing the superintendent on paid administrative leave and signing an acceptance for asbestos removal. The petition against Rushman said he failed to follow the Board Code of Ethics and slandered district administrators.

In response to the recall effort against her, Ernest said her action to place the superintendent on paid administrative leave was authorized in the superintendent’s contract. Both Ernest and Rushman said the decision to place the superintendent on paid administrative leave occurred after the board received serious complaints. They said those complaints were the reason behind the district’s increased legal fees. Ernest also said that she signed the acceptance for asbestos removal under the direction of the then-interim superintendent.

To get the recalls against Ernest and Rushman on the ballot, recall supporters had to collect 138 signatures for each member.

Ballotpedia tracked 90 school board recall efforts against 233 board members in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

In 2021, Ballotpedia covered a total of 339 recall efforts against 529 elected officials. This was the highest number of recall efforts and officials targeted since we started compiling data on recalls in 2012.

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Number of recall efforts soars to highest level since 2012

Ballotpedia tracked more recall efforts this year than any other year since we started compiling data on recalls in 2012. We identified 529 officials targeted for recall in 2021, compared to 301 in 2020 and 233 in 2019. The year with the second-most recalls was 2014 with 387 officials targeted for recall.

Despite the increase in recall efforts, there were fewer officials successfully removed from office in 2021 than any other year since 2012. Twenty-five recall efforts were successful in 2021, compared to 35 in 2020 and 38 in 2019. Meanwhile, 42 recalls were defeated in 2021, and 342 recalls did not qualify for the ballot.

For the first time since Ballotpedia began tracking, school board members drew more recall petitions than any other type of office. A total of 233 school board members faced recall campaigns, while city council members faced the second-most with 148. City council members drew the most recall petitions from 2014 to 2020. 

California led the way in officials targeted for recall with 129 in 2021. Arizona and Michigan followed with 51 officials each. From 2016 to 2020, California had the most officials targeted in four of the five years. When the number of recalls is adjusted for state population, Nebraska emerges as the recall leader in 2021 with 1.33 officials included in recall efforts per 100,000 residents. 

Ballotpedia closely followed several notable recalls in 2021. These include the recall election for California Governor Gavin Newsom (D), two recall efforts against San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, and the recall election for Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant. Our year-end report also highlights school board recalls in the Loudon County Public School District in Virginia, the Mequon-Thiensville School District in Wisconsin, and the San Francisco Unified School District in California.



Voters defeat Wisconsin school board recall, keep member on board

A recall election against Gary Mertig, one of the five members of the Butternut School District school board in Wisconsin, was on the ballot on December 14, 2021. Nate Pritzl filed to run against Mertig in the election. Mertig received 53.7% of the votes in the election, defeating Pritzl and retaining his seat.

Recall supporters said Mertig lied when he said community members would have input on the school district’s COVID-19 policies. Supporters said they were promised a meeting with all parties involved but that when the meeting was held, parents were not allowed to offer comments or ask questions.

Mertig said the community was allowed to speak at two out of the three meetings on the policies. The third meeting did not allow public comment because it was not listed on the agenda. “You have to be careful with the law. If it’s not on the agenda, you can’t talk about it,” Mertig said.

The recall petition required 126 signatures to be put on the ballot. It was signed by 130 residents of the district.

Mertig alleged that the way the recall signatures were collected violated state law. He submitted a letter to the Wisconsin Election Commission saying that at least eight residents who signed the recall were not witnessed by the petition circulator and that at least five people who signed were not residents of the school district. Mertig said those signatures should not have been counted, which would have stopped the recall election from being scheduled.

Wisconsin Election Commission Administrator Megan Wolf ruled that the recall election could proceed because Mertig did not file his complaints against the petition with the school district within the 10-day time period set by state law.

At the time the recall began, Mertig had been serving on the board for 31 years.

Ballotpedia has tracked 90 school board recall efforts against 233 board members so far in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we have tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

In our most recent recall report, which covered recalls from January to June 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 165 recall efforts against 263 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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Kshama Sawant defeats recall effort

District 3 City Councilmember Kshama Sawant defeated a recall effort in Seattle, Washington. The election was held Dec. 7. As of Dec. 16, there were 306 more votes opposed to the recall than supporting it. Results will be certified Dec. 17. 

The Seattle Times reported, “Any challenged ballots resolved between the time votes were counted on Thursday afternoon and the 4:30 p.m. deadline — about a two-hour window — were to be added to the count before certification, according to King County Elections Chief of Staff Kendall Hodson. That number is unlikely to change the results.”

Recall organizers alleged that Sawant misused city funds in support of a ballot initiative, disregarded regulations related to COVID-19 by admitting people into City Hall for a rally, and misused her official position by disclosing Mayor Jenny Durkan’s residents to protesters. Sawant referred to the effort as a “right-wing recall” and called the charges dishonest. See our coverage below to read the full sample ballot and court filings from both parties.

Sawant is a member of the Socialist Alternative Party. The city council office is officially nonpartisan.

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Voters approve Nebraska county supervisor recall election

A recall election against Doris Karloff (R), District 2 representative of the seven-member Saunders County Board of Supervisors in Nebraska, was held on Dec. 14. A majority of voters cast ballots in favor of the recall to remove Karloff from office.

The recall effort was started by Rhonda Carritt, a resident of Wahoo, Nebraska, which is represented by Karloff on the county board of supervisors. Carritt said Karloff was not representing “the best interests of the district.” Carritt confirmed with the Wahoo Newspaper that the recall was related to a solar farm project in the county among other things.

Karloff’s son went into contract with the company starting the solar farm. Because of that connection, Karloff said she abstained from all discussions on the permit and did not vote on any actions related to the solar farm. “I have tried to do my best to make sure that I was doing everything legally correct,” Karloff said.

To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters had to collect 573 signatures in 30 days. Recall supporters submitted the signatures by the deadline, and the county verified 581 signatures, allowing the recall to be put on the ballot.

Karloff won re-election to a four-year term in the general election on Nov. 3, 2020. She defeated three other Republicans in the primary on May 12, and she ran uncontested in the general election.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 165 recall efforts against 263 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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Recall election to be held Dec. 14 against Wisconsin school board member

A recall election against Gary Mertig, one of the five members of the Butternut School District school board in Wisconsin, is on the ballot on Dec. 14. Nate Pritzl filed to run against Mertig in the election.

Recall supporters said Mertig lied when he said community members would have input on the school district’s COVID-19 policies. Supporters said they were promised a meeting with all parties involved but that when the meeting was held, parents were not allowed to offer comments or ask questions.

Mertig said the community was allowed to speak at two out of the three meetings on the policies. The third meeting did not allow public comment because it was not listed on the agenda. “You have to be careful with the law. If it’s not on the agenda, you can’t talk about it,” Mertig said.

The recall petition required 126 signatures to be put on the ballot. It was signed by 130 residents of the district.

Mertig alleged that the way the recall signatures were collected violated state law. He submitted a letter to the Wisconsin Election Commission saying that at least eight residents who signed the recall were not witnessed by the petition circulator and that at least five people who signed were not residents of the school district. Mertig said those signatures should not have been counted, which would have stopped the recall election from being scheduled.

Wisconsin Election Commission Administrator Megan Wolf ruled that the recall election could proceed because Mertig did not file his complaints against the petition with the school district within the 10-day time period set by state law.

At the time the recall began, Mertig had been serving on the board for 31 years.

Ballotpedia has tracked 90 school board recall efforts against 233 board members so far in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we have tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 165 recall efforts against 263 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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Initial results in recall of Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant

Seattle held an election on Dec. 7 asking voters if District 3 City Councilmember Kshama Sawant should be recalled. Initial results published on election night showed 53% supporting the recall and 47% opposing it. Washington uses mail-in voting, and ballots needed to be postmarked by election day. King County Elections will continue counting mail ballots in the coming days and will certify election results on Dec. 17. 

According to The Seattle Times, this was the first city council recall to make the ballot in Seattle’s history.

Recall organizers alleged that Sawant misused city funds in support of a ballot initiative, disregarded regulations related to COVID-19 by admitting people into City Hall for a rally, and misused her official position by disclosing Mayor Jenny Durkan’s home address to protesters. Sawant referred to the effort as a “right-wing recall” and called the charges against her dishonest. See our coverage linked below to read the full sample ballot and court filings from both parties.

Sawant was first elected in 2013. Though the office of city council is officially nonpartisan, Sawant is a member of the Socialist Alternative Party and was the first socialist elected to Seattle city government in 97 years.

Only voters within District 3 could vote in the recall election. If Sawant is recalled, council members will appoint a replacement and a special election will be held in 2022. The next regularly scheduled election for this seat is in 2023. Sawant would be eligible to run in those elections.

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