Editorial: From the recall ashes

The bid to recall four Coeur d’Alene city officials failed, a lack of petition signature oxygen leading to political asphyxiation.

One side is celebrating. The other is commiserating. And in between is a big camp of constituents who simply want the appropriate electoral process to resume so citizens may choose their elected representatives.

As tempting as it is for anyone to read volumes of irrefutable truths into the failure, now is the time for the community to take a deep breath, exhale slowly and think clearly. Knee-jerk reactions based on emotion, rather than reason, will only deepen the divide. A little time for healing and for real analysis to take place will pay huge dividends. React quickly with emotion, and we’ll just end up back in some similar mess a little further down the road.

It is our hope that the recall supporters do not resort to legal channels in pursuit of their goals. If they do, they’ll be forcing taxpayers to defend the targeted city officials — an expense we’re certain the recall supporters do not ideologically or fiscally support. Perhaps more importantly, by employing legal options they’d keep fires burning that should be allowed to die out. The ashes from those fires can actually nurture the community in time and make it stronger.

If those who support the recall believe they’ve heard an ultimatum from the citizenry, they should recruit highly qualified candidates to run against the targeted incumbents. Put the same time, energy and expense into the campaign for 2013 as you did this recall attempt and you will know, without question, how the majority feels about their elected representatives. You’ll just have to wait a little longer to get your answer.

On the other side, it would be tempting for the victors to vilify those who carried the recall banner. That won’t get the community anywhere, either. Group hugs across political battle lines might not be forthcoming, but a failure of the victors to respectfully and gracefully move forward would keep the previously mentioned fires ablaze. Both sides need to let them go out.

Finally, it is our hope that those in city leadership — elected, appointed and otherwise — engage in serious analysis of how and why the community came to this crossroads. Rather than rely on anecdotes, gut feelings and small samplings, determine the root cause or causes of this eruption. How much of it was based on personal vendettas? How much on council decisions and direction, ranging from employee pay and urban renewal operations to visions of change for community assets? How much on the way the city communicates with its constituents?

Learn the answers to these and other important questions, and share those answers with the community. By better understanding what the hell happened to us, maybe we can avoid repeating it.

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