Recall efforts against three Idaho officials fail to collect enough signatures

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June 28, 2011


By Greg Janetka

BOISE, Idaho: Recall campaigns targeting three Republican Idaho officials for their support of controversial education reforms have all failed to gather enough signatures. The targets of the effort were Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, who crafted the reforms, along with state Senator Mitch Toryanski and state Representative Julie Ellsworth.[1]

The deadline came and went at 5 p.m. local time yesterday, with organizers falling far short of their goal. The number of valid signatures required for a recall election is 20 percent of the number of persons that voted in the last preceding election for the office of incumbent being recalled. In Luna's case, 158,107 signatures were needed, but only about 50,000 were gathered.[2] For Toryanski and Ellsworth, 4,725 were needed, but each campaign only collected around 1,000.[1]

Morgan Hill, organizer of the Recall Tom Luna campaign, said efforts started strong, but volunteer support fell off. Undaunted, Hill said supporters are working to create a nonpartisan watchdog organization, stating, "It would be irresponsible to shy away from this high level of public enthusiasm."[2]

Luna issued a statement in response to the failed campaign, saying, "Reforming education has never been about me; it's about giving our students more opportunities. Our focus and priority has been and will continue to be implementation of the laws."[3] The controversial laws in question were passed during the 2011 legislative session and are part of Luna's reform package known as "Students Come First." The three bills phase out tenure, restrict education union bargaining rights, begin a teacher pay-for-performance measure, and shift money from salaries to classroom technology.[4]

Although the recalls failed, opponents of the reforms were able to successfully place three veto referendums targeting the bills onto the November 6, 2012 general election ballot.[5].

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