Two West Ada School District trustees are seeking to block a May 17 recall vote that could sweep them and two other trustees out of office.
Russell Joki and Carol Sayles say the method used to calculate the number of signatures necessary on petitions for a recall was incorrect and thousands more signatures would be required. They are asking Fourth District Judge Lynn Norton for a temporary restraining order halting the election.
Board Chairwoman Tina Dean and trustees Julie Madsen, Joki and Sayles could face a recall if the Ada County elections office certifies that petitions have enough signatures to require a vote.
The county has 15 working days to review the signatures that were turned in on Feb. 1.
Traditionally, the number of petition signatures from registered voters required to launch a recall is equal to half the people who cast ballots in the last trustees election, which typically have extremely light turnout.
But Joki and Sayles say the number should be based the last district election, which was in November and brought out thousands of voters on the renewal of a $28 million supplemental levy over two years.
Recall backers gathered about 2,000 signatures, following their displeasure with the way the board handled the departure of Superintendent Linda Clark. But basing the requirement on the November election would mean about 10,000 signatures, according to the two trustees’ lawsuit.
Voters approved the West Ada levy with 59 percent of the vote. That shows voters are satisfied with how the board is conducting business, Joki said.
Mike Vuittonet, a trustee supporting the recall of his four colleagues, called the lawsuit a tactic to try to invalidate the recall. “Seems a little desperate to me,” he said.
NOTES ON A NOTARY
Recall critics took to Facebook over the weekend complaining that Reid Olsen, a notary public and co-chair of the recall effort, was wrong to notarize the signatures of people who had gathered signatures before they were turned into the elections office.
Secretary of State Lawerence Denney said he had heard the complaints and expects his office to look into it. He said the threshold for a conflict for a notary would typically involve a financial interest in the matter.
There is “no money” involved in notarizing the recall petitions, Olsen told the Statesman.
Winder bill would restrict school board appointments
Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, ran into a buzz saw of questions when he proposed legislation Monday morning prompted by the pending West Ada recall. Winder said his bill is aimed at a situation in which a quorum of a school board are targeted by a recall election, and then decide to resign before the election, frustrating the intent of the recall.
Winder said his bill would prevent trustees from resigning and appointing replacements “of like mind.”
“I’m not understanding how you would determine if someone was of ‘like mind,’ ” said Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb, D-Boise.
Winder said the goal is to not let departing members “replace members of the board with the intent of basically circumventing the recall process,” Winder said.
Betsy Z. Russell, Spokesman-Review