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Grants Pass City Council recall, Oregon, 2009

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A vote to recall five members of the Grants Pass City Council took place on September 15, 2009 in Josephine County for voters in the city of Grants Pass. Specifically the recall targeted: Council President Bill Kangas and councilors Mark Townes, Rob Pell, Ward Warren, and Lisa Berger. Targeted officials had the option to either resign or face the recall election in September.[1]

Ballots were sent out to voters on August 31, 2009, according to county officials. According to Josephine County Clerk and Recorder Art Harvey "only 20 percent of items up for recall actually got recalled."[2]

All five council members were recalled.[3]

Election results

Below are the results for individual council members:[4]

Recall target Vote for recall % Vote against recall %
Council President Bill Kangas 4,042 Approveda 54.8 3,614 45.2
Mark Townes 4,039 Approveda 52.9 3,590 47.1
Rob Pell 4,201 Approveda 54.8 3,461 45.2
Ward Warren 4,307 Approveda 56.2 3,354 43.8
Lisa Berger 4,451 Approveda 58.2 3,194 41.8

Background

The recall campaign began in June and July 2009 after months of turmoil between former City Manager David Frasher and the city Council. The council made several attempts to fire Frasher but in the last attempt Mayor Mike Murphy vetoed the motion. Shortly thereafter, on July 8, 2009, Frasher resigned from his position as City Manager.[5] According to reports, during the first meeting with the new council in January 2009, Frasher became "belligerent, cursed out four of the councilors and almost knocked one of them down."[6]

Support

Those who support the recall are organized in a group called "Grants Pass City Council Recall". The group is led by local residents Dan Runyon, Jay Jones and Mike Slagle.[7]

Against Kangas

When a recall action is announced, recall supporters must provide a list of their reasons. Below are the reasons given by recall supporters for removing Kangas from office, according to petition language:[7]

  • questionable handling of the potential dismissal of a public officer
  • requesting an executive officer violate an employee's 1st Amendment rights
  • lack of understanding Open Meetings Law
  • creating a hostile work environment
  • removing the Mayor's authority to nominate committee appointments
  • creating an unnecessary crisis at the expense of legitimate city business

Against Townes

Reasons given by recall supporters for removing Townes from office include:[7]

  • creating an unnecessary crisis at the expense of legitimate city business
  • creating a hostile work environment
  • not supporting levy funding, in turn threatening public safety
  • lack of understanding Open Meetings Law
  • removing the Mayor's authority to nominate committee appointments
  • disregard of advice from City Attorney and Finance Director on illegal decisions
  • false campaign promises
  • using costly non-local attorney services
  • ignoring public opinion

Against Pell

Reasons given by recall supporters for removing Pell from office include:[7]

  • creating an unnecessary crisis at the expense of legitimate city business
  • creating a hostile work environment
  • lack of understanding Open Meetings Law
  • removing and circumventing the Mayor's authority to nominate committee appointments
  • disregard of city Attorney advice
  • false campaign promises
  • using costly non-local attorney services
  • ignoring public opinion

Against Warren

Reasons given by recall supporters for removing Warren from office include:[7]

  • creating an unnecessary crisis at the expense of legitimate city business
  • making false accusations against staff
  • lack of understanding Open Meetings Law
  • creating a hostile work environment
  • removing and circumventing the Mayor's authority to nominate committee appointments
  • disregard of city Attorney advice
  • false campaign promises
  • using costly non-local attorney services
  • ignoring public opinion
  • disorderly conduct

Against Berger

Reasons given by recall supporters for removing Berger from office include:[7]

  • lack of attendance and leaving council meetings early
  • questionable handling of the potential dismissal of a public officer
  • not supporting levy funding, in turn threatening public safety
  • creating an unnecessary crisis at the expense of legitimate city business
  • lack of understanding Open Meetings Law
  • creating a hostile work environment
  • removing and circumventing the Mayor's authority to nominate committee appointments

Opposition

In reaction to the recall campaign Council President Kangas said that the accusation are "unfounded" and added,"We wanted some accusations with some truth. Give me the proof. I want proof beyond a reasonable doubt if I did something wrong I would love to know about it."[5]

Some residents argued that there was a "full-blown effort of resistance to the council" and their jobs were made increasingly difficult when allegedly Frasher told councilors that he instructed his staff not to take any instruction from the council.[6]

Signatures

On Friday, August 7, 2009 the Josephine County Clerk announced that petitioners gathered enough signatures to hold a recall election for all 5 council members.[5] Petitioners needed a minimum of 1,689 valid signatures. According to supporters they collected more than 2,250 signatures for Berger and Kangas and more than 1,950 signatures for Townes, Pell and Warren.[8]

Cost

According to the Josephine County Clery the recall election is expected to cost between $20-$25,000.[5]

See also

Defeatedd Michael Murphy recall, Grants Pass, Oregon, 2009

External links

References

Additional reading