Backers appear to have enough signatures to force Fraser Rec District recall election
December 4, 2008
A local group has apparently collected enough signatures on its petitions to force a recall election to be held for three directors of the Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District (FVMRD).
According to Viki Bale of the Concerned Citizens, their group has collected 445 signatures on its recall petitions. A total of 300 valid signatures were needed for a recall election to be conducted.
“We have far more signatures than the required 300,” Bale said. “We are excited.”
The Concerned Citizens want to recall three district directors ” Dan O’Connell, Beth Sands and Pete Strohecker. Their recall is being sought over the controversy surrounding the FVMRD’s new recreation center under construction at the Grand Park development in Fraser.
The petitions were turned over to Grand County Clerk and Recorder Sara Rosene earlier this week. After examining voter registration records, her office has confirmed that about 400 of the names and addresses listed on the notarized petitions are of registered voters in the recreation district.
Since then, the petitions have been turned over to East Grand Fire Chief Todd Holzwarth, the court-appointed Designated Election Official, who is conducting a final review of the petitions.
“The Concerned Citizens apparently have about 100 names of district voters in excess of the 300 needed for a recall,” Holzwarth said Thursday. “I will be reviewing the petitions over the weekend. By Monday or Tuesday, I expect to be able to declare whether or not there are a sufficient number for a recall.”
Holzwarth explained the “clock starts running” from the day he declares that the recall petitions are sufficient.
“It begins with a 15-day protest period where anyone can protest that something was done wrong with the petitions,” he said. “After that 15 days, the process keeps on going.”
After the protest period, the petitions will be submitted to the recreation district. Holzwarth said the FVMRD’s board of directors are then required to set an election date “not less than 45 days or more than 75 days after the declaration of sufficiency.”
If a protest or some other event fails to stop it, a recall election for the recreation district can be expected to take place in either late January or by the end of February, Holzwarth said.
Mark Rudis, the Concerned Citizens attorney, filed documents requesting a recall election with the court in Hot Sulphur Springs on Aug. 22. On Sept. 16, Judge Shelley Hill of the 14th Judicial District Court appointed Holzwarth as the Designated Election Official for the recall.
The first signatures on the recall petitions were taken Tuesday, Sept. 30, and the Concerned Citizens’ petitioneers continued to canvass the community since that time.
The Concerned Citizens are seeking the recall of O’Connell and Strohecker because they voted July 22 for the approval of a contract with the Grand Park development for the donation of 4.9 acres of its land as the site for the construction of the recreation center.
Although Sands abstained from the vote on the contract, the group also wants her recalled, claiming she had a “conflict of interest” because she was an employee of Cornerstone Holdings LLC, the developer of Grand Park during the time of the contract negotiations. She has since left that position with Cornerstone.
The Concerned Citizens have also said they plan to seek the recall of a fourth director, John Kacik. They are not currently seeking his recall along with the three other directors because under state law an official cannot be recalled until after he or she had served a minimum of six months. Kacik was elected to the FVMRD Board of Directors in May.
Judge Hill handled last September’s recall petition after Judge Mary Hoak, who is the district court judge for Grand County, recused herself because she is married to Director John Kacik.
The only FVMRD director whose recall is not being sought by the group is Greg Gallavan, who voted against accepting the contract with Grand Park.