Fire district leader may face recall

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Petitioners seeking to recall Mica Kidd Island Fire District Commission Chairman Chris Shelton have collected enough signatures to trigger a recall election.

A group of people from the Mica Flats and Kidd Island area gathered 123 certified signatures, topping the 79 required, said Carrie Phillips, Kootenai County elections manager.

Shelton was given notice Friday. "If he does not resign, the district will order the (recall) election," Phillips said.

Shelton, who is three years into his first four-year term, told The Press Friday he hasn't decided whether to resign or face the recall election. He has until 5 p.m. next Friday to make a decision.

"The commissioners' responsibility is to ensure the citizens have adequate fire protection, with well-trained personnel and manage the budget so taxes don't get raised inordinately," Shelton said. "I think I've done that. It's a team effort, and as part of a team we've done that."

Phillips said she would need to receive the recall wording for the Nov. 4 ballot by Sept. 5. Shelton also would need to provide his rebuttal wording by Sept. 5.

"Commissioner Shelton has lost touch with the desires and wishes of the (Mica Kidd Island) community, resulting in a loss of confidence in his willingness and ability to represent the citizens of the district in which he was elected to serve," the petition says.

It also refers to the "burdensome and intrusive" fee schedule proposed at an April public hearing. The fee schedule would allow the district to bill for specific services it provides.

"That's what started all this," said Gretchen Hauser, who has been doing much of the work on the petition effort with another community member, James King.

"It's all about the direction" of the fire district, Hauser said.

She said Shelton hasn't been listening to his constituents.

Shelton said a public hearing on the proposed fee schedule is scheduled for Monday night.

He said the public "came unglued" when a comprehensive list of services the district could bill for - a document produced by the fire chief - was leaked to the public.

Shelton said that original list has been whittled down a lot to create the current proposed fee schedule.

"No person that pays taxes in our district would be billed for services," Shelton said.

The petition also says Shelton, as president of the commission, "willfully and defiantly conducted an executive session and an unnoticed commissioners' meeting contrary to Idaho state statutes, on July 25."

Shelton said a Kootenai County Sheriff's Office detective investigated that claim, and the officer gave his findings to the prosecutor's office, which is currently reviewing the matter.

"The only thing I've ever wanted to do was do the right thing," Shelton said. "I have no other agenda than that."

The petition said Shelton also failed to ensure fire-fighting equipment is maintained and in service.

"We have a vision or direction for the fire district," Hauser said. "It's not the same as his."

Shelton said he has done his best in the volunteer position, and he's proud that all of the commissioner votes since he has been on the board have been unanimous. The recall effort has come as a major surprise.

"It hurts," he said.

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