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PAC says it has enough signatures in mayor recall effort
The head of the group trying to recall Elgin Mayor John Stover said this
week members have gathered the minimum number of signatures needed for a
Polly Parsons, a recall petitioner, said Monday the Elgin Political Action Committee has the requisite 95 signatures, but aims to gather 150 before turning them in.“We know there’s a possibility of some signatures being disqualified, so we want to make sure we’ve covered the numbers,” Parsons said.
Stover has refused to comment on the recall effort. An attempt to reach him for comment Tuesday was unsuccessful.
The recall effort stems from a long-brewing controversy over Elgin police department issues that came to a head Aug. 1, when Officer Erik Kilpatrick shot Elgin resident Richard Shafer to death in the midst of a domestic disturbance call.
A grand jury ruled the shooting justified, but outrage over that incident plus a host of other police performance issues poured out in subsequent public meetings.
The recall committee makes clear it blames Stover for the city’s law enforcement troubles. In the petition, they say Stover’s actions “demonstrate a significant lack of required skills, knowledge and ability to serve effectively.”
The group accuses the mayor of failing to respond to a petition presented in the summer of 2010 requesting a review of the city police department and voicing citizen concerns regarding abuse of force by local police.
The statement also takes issue with a remark Stover made at a recent council meeting regarding police chief performance evaluations. Stover said in the meeting that the council “overlooked” doing evaluations three years running.
The citizens group refutes that, claiming that a city councilor addressed the need for immediate evaluations in April, but Stover failed to follow through. The citizens charge in their statement that Stover’s actions led to the fatal shooting.
The petition statement also accuses Stover of calling and canceling meetings without public notice, contrary to state statutes governing public meetings.
In addition, the group is accusing Stover of a failure to to uphold the Oregon Public Records Law. That accusation stems from a dispute Parsons herself had in regards to a bill for providing her with surveys regarding the police department.
Parsons said Monday that 18 group members worked throughout December to get the needed 95 signatures.
“A couple of them went door-to-door, but I think mostly people just gathered the signatures while they were out and about over the holidays,” Parsons said.
Parsons said the group has a definite schedule to follow. Jan. 10-11, it will review petitions, count signatures and verify legal requirements.
If 150 or more signatures are verified by the group by Jan. 12, the petitions will be delivered to local elected officials. If not, the group will hit the streets again.
“If we have not met the goal (of 150), we will continue gathering,” Parsons said.
The deadline for submitting the signatures is 5 p.m. March 7, but Parsons said she doubts the group will need that much time.
“We do not plan to use the full allotted time. We will submit petitions as soon as possible,” she said.
After the signatures are submitted, Union County Clerk Robin Church has 10 days to verify them and give Stover the choice of submitting a rebuttal statement or resigning. If an election is necessary, the clerk must schedule it within 35 days.
Parsons said her group is preparing for an election, in the event that Stover decides to try and ride out the tide. A fundraising campaign is under way, with an account in the group’s name set up at Bank of America’s La Grande branch.
Parsons said the money will be used for outreach to city residents.
“If there’s going to be an election, we’ll get information out. We’ll do a direct mailing to 973 voters,” she said.