Souza: Recall Lessons Learnd

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The Recall CdA movement will go down in the history of our town as an incredible effort by a highly motivated group of citizens. I am honored to have been part of it. We had more than 100 volunteers from all walks of life, all age groups and, most interestingly, from all political persuasions. Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians and Independents, working shoulder to shoulder in the effort to get an honestly responsive government in our city. And the people who signed? Courageous and determined. McEuen was a big reason but certainly not the only one. Arrogance, taxes, intimidation...the list went on and on; everyone had their own reasons for signing the petitions.

Will the officials listed on the Recall learn anything from the results? Let’s see what they said to The Press right after the final numbers were reported:

Deanna Goodlander said, “I didn't feel like they would get the (signatures), and they didn't.” This attitude is from a woman who won her last election by less than 30 votes. Deanna, about 3,100 people voted for you in ‘09, but more than 4,000 valid, certified voters signed the Recall petition against you. That’s 900 more than voted you into office. Perhaps an attitude adjustment is in order?

Mike Kennedy told the Press, "Frankly, we can improve city communication, and we need to." You are right, Mike, but the part of the communication cycle you need to improve is to LISTEN to the people. Will you listen to the results of the Recall? You won your last election by only three votes. 912 more people were valid, certified signers of the Recall petition against you than voted for you last time. Will you listen?

Woody McEvers was not quoted in the Press. Probably smart. Woody had almost 800 more valid, certified voters sign the Recall petition against him than elected him in ’09. You often appear to listen, Woody, but then you go along with the power players every time. Will this outcry by the public help you stand strong to represent the people?

And Mayor Bloem seemed to “get it” with her first quote in The Press, where she said, “One has to look at what has happened and say, 'What have we learned from this? What is positive out of this?” But then she was quoted further as saying, “... I get to finish my four years and finish the job I was elected to do."

It sounds like more of the same to me, Mayor Bloem. It sounds like you are going to stay the course and not change a thing, even though more people signed your Recall petition than any other. You were elected in 2009 by a large majority but even MORE valid voters signed the Recall petition against you now.

So when any of you four officials start to recite your favorite excuse, “We were elected to make the tough choices,” just stop. Please remember that more valid voters signed the Recall petitions against each and every one of you than voted you into office during the last election. That is a fact. Will you listen to the voice of the people? Will you move toward honest compromise, not just temporarily changing plans because you’ve run out of our money?

Jennifer Riggs Drake, of the Anti-recall group, said in The Press that, “It's an affirmation of the fact that the majority of people do support these four people and what they're doing...” No Jennifer, the fact is that a majority of the active voters do NOT support what these officials have been doing. There are about 20,000 registered voters in CdA, many of whom are not active. In the last city election about 6,200 people came out to vote, one way or the other. So the total valid, certified Recall signers, at an average of 4,084 for each official, are a clear majority of the active voters in CdA.

The most unexpected lesson learned is this: Secretary of State Ben Ysursa thinks he has the right to change the rules and interpret the laws. The Recall rules were changed at several key moments during this process, never in our favor. Let me just leave you with the surprising final ruling from the Secretary of State and our County Prosecutor: If a person’s city address on the Recall petition does not exactly match the city address on their Voter Registration card, the signature is rejected. So if they moved within the city and didn’t re-register, their signature on the petition was thrown out. But that same person is still legal to vote! Yep. I’m not kidding. They said the standard to sign a Recall petition is higher than the standard to vote. Does that make any sense to you?

In the 2009 CdA Election Challenge trial, one of the questionable voters was a woman who went into a polling place, signed the poll book next to a pre-printed address, got her ballot and voted. After she voted, she told the poll workers she had moved to a different city address in a different precinct, two years before. Judge Hosack said her vote still counted; that she was still a legal voter. He said "... I think the rule of law in Idaho case law is pretty clear that courts should honor the right of a qualified voter to vote. And mere technicalities are not sufficient to disenfranchise a voter and deprive them of their constitutional right to vote."

She could vote but, according to the Secretary of State, she couldn’t sign a Recall petition to get a vote. Are our state legislators listening? The Recall laws are a mess and they are slanted heavily to favor the incumbents. Please fix them.

Many, many lessons learned. But take heed, Mayor + 3, if the Secretary of State had not come to your rescue and changed the rules time and again, your names would be on the ballot. Please adjust your attitudes and actions accordingly. The majority of active voters have spoken.

Mary Souza is a 25-year resident of CdA, local small business owner and former P&Z Commissioner.

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