June 18, 2012 in Idaho

Signatures fall short in CdA recall attempts

By The Spokesman-Review
 

An effort to oust Coeur d’Alene’s mayor and half of its City Council has fallen short.

The attempted recall, pushed by voters unhappy with the city’s planned waterfront revamp of McEuen Field, failed to gather enough valid signatures to force an election. Organizers were about 200 to 250 signatures short.

RecallCDA needed 4,311 valid signatures on each petition for the election to move forward. The official results were Mayor Sandi Bloem, 4,126 valid signatures; councilwoman Deanna Goodlander, 4,073; councilman Mike Kennedy, 4,077; and councilman Woody McEvers, 4,060.

Coeur d’Alene City Clerk Susan Weathers announced the signature tallies at a Monday news conference, saying “I now declare this recall process closed.”

Supporters of the mayor and council members cheered.

“I think this town really supports a positive future,” said Sara Meyer, co-chair of the Decline to Sign campaign, which organized in response to the recall effort. “The recall folks tried. They were everywhere, but they didn’t get the signatures. The majority of this town did not support the recall.”

The recall effort was divisive for Coeur d’Alene, said Meyer, adding that she hopes “the town puts the negativity aside.”

“Now it’s time to learn to play nice and work together,” she said.

In a phone interview, Bloem said that she’s looking forward to fulfilling the remaining 1 ½ years of her term. “I’m excited to be able to serve like I was elected to,” she said.

Bloem said she hasn’t decided whether she’ll run for a fourth term as mayor in 2013.

Bloem and the three council members were the four-vote majority that opposed a public advisory vote on a $14.2 million makeover planned for McEuen Field. They defended their decision to move forward with upgrades for the popular green space on Lake Coeur d’Alene, saying members of the public had plenty of opportunity to voice their views at nearly 50 City Council meetings where the plan was discussed.

Bloem is a long-time advocate of public investment in downtown Coeur d’Alene. “Great cities have great downtowns; and great downtowns have great parks and public spaces,” is one of her sayings.

Frank Orzell, a retired management consultant who led the recall effort, said that McEuen Field’s redesign became the flashpoint for frustrations that local residents had about unresponsiveness at City Hall. RecallCDA gathered about 5,300 signatures, but about 23 percent of the signatures were declared invalid by the Kootenai County Clerk’s office.

Orzell said he felt good about RecallCDA’s work, even though the effort didn’t produce a recall election.

“We accomplished a heck of a lot more than anyone imagined we could,” he said. “We came close. We worked hard.”

Read more at Huckleberries Online

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