It didn’t take long for fireworks to start after petitions calling for the recall of four West Ada School District trustees were filed at the Ada County Election’s office Monday afternoon.
Julie Madsen and Russell Joki, two trustees named in the recall petitions, blasted the effort as an attempt to oust board members fueled by large sums of money, some of which is coming from outside the state.
“These recallers want to try to stop transparency and accountability,” said Joki, who was elected in May. “That is not going to happen. The district has changed.”
Joki and Madsen say they believe petition backers, who include former West Ada Superintendent Christine Donnell, have a amassed a campaign war chest to try to get rid of them. They don’t have specific figures, they say, because reporting of donations aren’t required.
Donnell denied allegations that her group has lots of money and says there are no out-of-state dollars. She estimated the group has spent a few hundred dollars acquiring signatures. She called the allegation of raising large amounts of money “hogwash.”
But Madsen said the quality of their materials, such as a door hanger, aren’t cheap: “I know how much has to be spent on that kind of effort.”
A recall will be a “distraction to the effective management of this district,” Madsen said.
Madsen said she will resign if the petitions are certified by Ada County as having enough signatures to force the recall election. She will step down, she said, partly to spare her family and partly to avoid a bitter election funded with special interest money.
The two other trustees named in the recall petition are Carol Sayles and Chairwoman Tina Dean. Neither could not be reached for comment Monday.
West Ada was struck by recall fever after trustees cut a year out of then-Superintendent Linda Clark’s contract last fall, claiming it had been improperly extended by the previous board at a meeting that didn’t meet the state’s open meeting law.
Donnell, at a stormy board meeting, told the audience she was going to launch the recall effort against the four trustees who cut Clark’s contract and complained about Clark’s treatment. Clark eventually was forced out, with each side blaming the other for the departure.
A second recall effort was launched against Mike Vuittonet, a board member in his fifth term who backed Clark. Backers decided not to go forward with that petition; Vuittonet is a part of the effort to recall the other four board members.
Donnell says the four trustees have been disruptive at meetings, have overloaded employees with work seeking information such as old district e-mails, and that the board is not acting with transparency.
▪ Petitions were filed on Monday.
▪ Ada County has 15 business days to verify the signatures as belonging to registered voters. Election officials say verified petition signatures must total a number equal to at least half the voters who cast ballots in each of the previous trustees’ elections.
▪ Once signatures are verified, trustees will have five days to resign.
▪ If members don’t resign, the board would be required to authorize a recall.
▪ The recall election would be May 17.
▪ A recall would be effective if the majority in a trustee zone votes against a trustee and if at least an equal number of people voted against the trustee as voted for the trustee in that member’s last election.