Group wants recall of Eagle council president

Mary McFarland said she stands behind her decisions, even if they are unpopular.

cmsewell@idahostatesman.comMay 6, 2014 

Eagle City Council President Mary McFarland

CITY OF EAGLE WEBSITE

Citing "a narrow view of her constituency," 20 Eagle citizens have launched a recall effort against City Council President Mary McFarland.

Jane Kramer submitted the prospective petition to the Ada County Elections Office to start the process. The group has until mid-July to collect more than 2,400 signatures to trigger a recall election this fall.

In her petition, Kramer cited these reasons to recall McFarland: Not representing the best interests of all Eagle citizens; open meeting violations; being rude and disrespectful to fellow council members and the public; interrupting public testimony and criticizing citizens; not reflecting the views of Eagle citizens; and a loss of citizen confidence in her ability to do the job for which she was elected.

McFarland said she knows some citizens are upset about recent city decisions to purchase park land from Ada County, build a snow park, recommend that the highway district build a roundabout at State Street and Eagle Road, and use eminent domain to acquire greenbelt easements.

"All of those issues have certainly contributed to the situation that we find on hand here," Kramer said. "Mary is ultimately to be held accountable in our minds because she has been elected to be president of the council."

She added: "I think as City Council president she should be conducting herself at a higher level than ever, and we don't see that happening."

PASSIONS RUN HIGH

McFarland is publisher of the Eagle Informer magazine. She was elected in 2011 and has served as council president since February 2013.

She acknowledged that she can be "passionate," but said she isn't rude. She said she is proud of the work she's done for Eagle.

"I came into this office knowing that there is no way to bring change and please everyone," said McFarland. "Whether I'm working to bring live music, connect the Greenbelt, provide recreation with the snow terrain park or improve traffic and the aesthetics of downtown, someone is not going to be happy.

"The people behind this petition are just as passionate about Eagle, and I respect that."

Eagle Mayor Jim Reynolds called the petition "unfortunate."

"I think we are getting along better," he said. "I hope we have an opportunity to continue to do that."

Reynolds said he'd had no written complaints about McFarland, although he knows some people consider her abrupt: "She is a strong-minded woman and passionate."

Reynolds said he is aware of one open meeting violation complaint. About a dozen residents filed a complaint in November in 4th District Court saying the council violated the law at three October council meetings by discussing the purchase of Eagle Sports Park land without proper notice. After the complaint, the city posted notice and held the discussions again at a subsequent meeting.

HOW DOES A RECALL WORK?

According to Idaho code, petitioners have 75 days to submit a petition containing signatures equal to 20 percent of the number of registered voters at the last general city election.

In November 2013, there were 12,293 registered voters; so 2,459 registered Eagle voters must sign the petition to force an election to recall McFarland.

The petition must be submitted to the city clerk by July 12.

To succeed, a majority of voters in the special election must vote in favor; and the number of votes cast in favor of the recall must equal or exceed the number of votes cast for her in the previous general election.

McFarland received 1,187 votes in her last election in November 2011. This means 1,187 people must vote in favor of the recall and that number must constitute a majority of all votes cast.

Eagle's last recall was in 1997, when voters removed Mayor Chuck Bower from office. Then-Councilman Rick Yzaguirre was appointed to his seat.

Cynthia Sewell: 377-6428, Twitter: @CynthiaSewell

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