Clatsop County Commissioners recall, Oregon, 2009

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An effort to recall Clatsop County Commissioners Ann Samuelson, Patricia Roberts and Jeff Hazen was launched in July and August 2009. At the time, Hazen served as the county chair and representd District 1, Samuelson representd District 5 and Roberts representd District 2.[1] The recall efforts developed after the three commissioners voted in favor of a liquefied natural gas development.[2]

Recall elections for Ann Samuelson and Jeff Hazen were held October 27, 2009. Hazen defeated the recall but as of October 28, 2009 the recall effort against Samuelson was approved by 0.20%.[3] An automatic recount was scheduled, however the recount confirmed the vote count. The attempt to recall Samuelson was approved.[4]

The recall election for County Commissioner Patricia Roberts was held on December 8, 2009. Roberts defeated the recall effort.[5][6]

Election results

October 27, 2009

  • Anne Samuelson
    • Yes: 1,013 (50.10%)Approveda
    • No: 1,009 (49.90%)
  • Jeff Hazen
    • Yes: 978 (43.9%)
    • No: 1,250 (56.1%)Defeatedd

December 8, 2009

  • Patricia Roberts
    • Yes: 805 (41.4%)
    • No: 1,138 (58.5%)Defeatedd

Reason for recall

Roberts, Hazen and Samuelson were targeted for a recall after the three commissioners voted in favor of adopt a report about an LNG terminal that NorthernStar Natural Gas hopes to build in the county. The commission said that the proposed Bradwood Landing project met local zoning requirements.[2]

Whether or not to build one at Bradwood Landing has been a matter of lively controversy in Clatsop County for over a year. The Clatsop County Commission approved the LNG terminal but a majority of voters in November 2008 overturned that decision.[7]

Hazen

Those who sought a recall said they believed that Hazen had "steadily ignored the popular sentiment that is opposed to an LNG terminal at Bradwood." An LNG terminal is a Liquid Natural Gas terminal. The recall effort against Hazen began 5 days after the commission voted in favor of the project; the same time the recall effort against Samuelson was filed.[7]

Petitioners were required to collect a minimum of 445 valid signatures to place the recall on the ballot.[2]

Roberts

A citizen group called Accountability for District 2 cited the following reasons for recalling Roberts:[2]

  • Roberts voted in support of the Bradwood Landing LNG project application despite a 67 percent "no" vote in 2008.
  • Roberts is vice-chairwoman on the board of the Northwest Oregon Housing Authority (NOHA), which is currently involved in a financial crisis.

Petitioners were required to collect a minimum of 441 valid signatures to place the recall on the ballot. The deadline for Roberts was November 23, 2009.

Samuelson

Those who sought the recall said they believed that Samuelson had "steadily ignored the popular sentiment that is opposed to an LNG terminal at Bradwood." An LNG terminal is a Liquid Natural Gas terminal. The recall effort against Samuelson began 5 days after the commission voted in favor of the project.[7]

Recall supporters were required to collect 447 signatures of Clatsop County District 5 in 90 days to qualify the recall question for the ballot.[7]

Samuelson served on the board of the Jewell School, but was recalled from that board on May 20, 2008.

Samuelson said she will fight the recall effort.

Contributions in question

In September 2009, an LNG terminal, the subject underlying the recall of county commissioners, opponent - Marc Auerbach - filed a complaint with the Oregon Secretary of State's office because Commissioner Samuelson allegedly failed to post activities of her political action committee. According to finance reports, Samuelson's PAC (Friends of Ann) has received numerous contributions, one as high as $5,000. In comparison to the committee to recall Samuelson, they have received two contributions over $100, the highest contribution is reported to be $311. Since the complaint, Samuelson has posted contributions made to the PAC.[8]

One of the donations, $5,000, was from North Coast Retail LLC, whom the city made a recent contract. In October 2009, Wes Giesbrecht of North Coast Retail said, "Normally we don't get involved in politics. The Clatsop County Commission has been highly supportive of our project. If it had involved a criminal act or something of that nature, I can see a recall. It seems like an abuse of the process."[9]

Misuse of recall

The Oregonian editorial

In a September 2009 editorial article The Oregonian staff argues that the Clatsop County Commissioners recall is a misuse of the recall. According to the article,"It should be reserved for malfeasance, not for punishing elected officials who dare to make unpopular decisions." Additionally, the article notes that Clatsop County voters shouldn't be considering a recall election because they disagree with the land-use decision by the three commissioners. The LNG terminal at Bradwood Landing, according to staff, "isn't at all the industrial boogeyman that its opponents would have everyone believe." The recall, argues the newspaper, will have a "corrosive effect" and "unfairly" punishes public officeholders from voicing their opinions. Ultimately the article calls for county voters to "reject the recall of Hazen and Samuelson on Oct. 27 and refuse to sign petitions seeking the recall of Roberts."[10]

Response to editorial

In response to The Oregonian's editorial Marc Auerbach, director of Democracy in District 5, the PAC promoting the recall of Ann Samuelson, argues that the newspaper is "factually incorrect" and that "the county commissioners work for us. The recall process explicitly enables us to fire them just as one might fire an employee."[11]

Samuelson's home vandalized

On October 13, 2009 Samuelson's home was vandalized. According to reports, vandals wrote KKK with white spray paint on Samuelson's mailbox, the day after an editorial ran in the Daily Astorian that compared Samuelson to Ku Klux Klan members. The editorial referred to reports that Samuelson met with department heads in early October to discuss employees that signed recall petitions. The editorial went on to compare Samuelson's actions to that of Klu Klux Klan members removal of Catholic department heads shortly after winning a municipal elections in 1922.[12]

Complaint against anti-LNG company

Energy Action Northwest, a pro-LNG company, filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) against Columbia Riverkeeper, an anti-LNG group. According to the filed complaint, Energy Action Northwest requested that the IRS investigate "political activities" by the anti-LNG company. "We believe the information we've assembled, including various documents, news articles, online postings, web pages and emails, provides conclusive evidence of CRK's participation and intervention in the political campaigns supporting the recall of Clatsop County Commissioners Jeff Hazen, Ann Samuelson, Patricia Roberts, and Richard Lee," said Energy Action Northwest Executive Director Tom Ivancie. However, Columbia Riverkeeper executives call the allegations "baseless." Executive director Brett VandenHeuvel said,"We were not involved in the recall. We didn't spend money on the recall. We weren't involved at all."[13]

Path to the ballot

Signature gatherers collecting signatures on the recall petition near a U.S. post office told a reporter that Samuelson supporters "disrupted their efforts by shouting at citizens who attempted to sign the petitions during the first days of the effort."[14] (See petition blocking).

Recall supporters submitted signatures on September 9, 2009. On September 18, Clatsop County Clerk Cathie Garber reported that enough signatures had been collected to place the measure on the ballot. Recall elections will be held October 27, 2009 for County commissioners Jeff Hazen and Ann Samuelson.

Roberts recall supporters are required to collect a minimum of 441 valid signatures to put her name on a recall ballot.[15] On Friday, October 30, the county clerk reported that sufficient signatures were submitted for an election. The signatures were gathered by a committee called Accountability for District 2.[16]

Timeline

  • Recall election scheduled for Jeff Hazen and Ann Samuelson - October 27, 2009.
  • Recall supporters had until October 20 to collect enough signatures to force a recall election.
  • Once the signatures are turned in and validated, county election officials must hold the recall election within 35 days.[14]
  • On Tuesday, September 2, 2009, the Northwest Oregon Housing Authority Commission voted to make Clatsop County Commissioner Roberts its new chairwoman, despite the circulating recall petition.[17]

See also

External links

Additional reading

References

  1. Wahkiakim Friends of the River, "Recall Ann Samuelson," July 21, 2009
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 The Daily Astorian, "Roberts added to recall effort," August 26, 2009
  3. The Daily Astorian, "Recall: Hazen survives; Samuelson losing by just 4 votes - automatic recount planned," October 27, 2009
  4. The Oregonian, "Clatsop commissioner recall confirmed," November 11, 2009
  5. The Daily Astorian, "Clatsop County Commissioner Roberts stays in office, says recall attempt has been 'very divisive'," December 8, 2009
  6. Associated Press, "Recount needed in Clatsop County recall vote," October 28, 2009
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Daily Astorian, "Clatsop County commissioners vow to fight recall," July 23, 2009
  8. The Daily Astorian, "LNG foes follow the money as recall heats up," September 4, 2009
  9. The Daily Astorian, "Developer defends donation in recall," October 13, 2009
  10. The Oregonian, "Recall is being misused in Clatsop LNG fight," September 26, 2009
  11. The Oregonian, "LNG opponents make their case for recall of Clatsop commissioners," September 28, 2009
  12. The Daily Astorian, "A commissioner thinks an editorial led to vandalism at colleague's home," October 14, 2009
  13. The Daily Astorian, "Complaint filed against anti-LNG group," December 3, 2009
  14. 14.0 14.1 Daily Astorian, "Shouting will not stop recall," August 9, 2009
  15. The Daily Astorian, "Signatures verified -recall will go ahead; Hazen and Samuelson will stay and fight," September 18, 2009
  16. Associated Press, "Clatsop County, Ore., commissioner faces recall," October 31, 2009
  17. Daily Astorian, "State yanks NOHA housing contract," September 4, 2009