Salem City Council recall, West Virginia (2013)

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An effort to recall four members of the Salem, West Virginia, city council was launched in January 2013.[1] The four officials who faced recall were Doug Fischer, Bobby Knight, Laurie McKowen and Israel Williams. The effort, however, was abandoned short of going to a vote.

Reasons for recall

The recall effort was led by Bob Bland and Kenneth Truex. The recall petitions accuse the four targeted officials of "disruptions and actions that continue to subject the city to ridicule from the media and neighboring communities," and wasting "valuable time squabbling and pursuing personal attacks rather than addressing the real challenges and concerns that face the city."[2]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing recall in West Virginia

In January 2013, Bob Bland and Kenneth Truex submitted recall petitions signed by 20% of the town's registered voters. The city had to decide how much money petitioners would have to pay to help cover the costs of a recall election.[1] In February 2013, the mayor directed the City Manager to accept a cashier's check as payment for the recall election.[3]

In March 2013, Truex filed a petition in court for a writ of mandamus, which would compel the city to schedule a recall election. The case has been assigned to Chief Judge James A. Matish of the Harrison County Circuit Court. In his petition, Truex wrote, "This action seeks to compel Respondents Joe Davis and Kayla Lowther to comply with the West Virginia Code, and the Official Charter of the City of Salem to allow a recall election to be conducted for as provided for in those documents."[4]

In April Judge Matish turned away Truex case, saying that Truex had not presented certain materials requested by the court. Matish proved Truex 20 days to fix all of the issues. However, after the court appearance Truex admitted to reporters that the recall effort was effectively dead because of timing issues with the scheduled June election. Truex alleged city official had "stonewalled" the recall election with delaying tactics.[5]


On June 4, 2013 a local election was held in Salem for the mayoral and six city council seats. Bob Bland and Kenneth Truex both ran in the election for two open seats in Ward 1, but both lost. Fischer and Williams did not run. Knight was reelected. McKowen died suddenly on May 25, 2013; her name remained on the ballot, but she was not reelected.[6]

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