Coeur d’Alene Mayor Sandi Bloem and City Council members Deanna Goodlander, Mike Kennedy and Woody McEvers will be keeping their seats until the next general election, a fact their constituents should stand up and applaud.
Foes of the foursome failed to get the 4,300 signatures that would have put a recall measure before city voters on any of four dates prior to the next municipal election. Although they submitted what would normally be a comfortable surplus of signer ink, their effort failed when about 23 percent of the signatures were ruled invalid.
The sad fact is many a passer-by is only too happy to scrawl their names on a petition, but heaven forbid they make the effort to register to vote. They might – OMG! – have to get out of their cars.
But the bigger challenge was convincing a community that has come so far over the last 10 years that the individuals responsible for helping make it happen should be ousted for continuing to do what they have done so well: make Coeur d’Alene a small city with enviable business, residential, recreational and education resources.
It’s not just about the lake anymore.
To a list of achievements that includes the Kroc Community Center, a new library and expansion of the North Idaho College campus, city officials want to add a transformed McEuen Park. The project will not be cheap, but almost all the $14 million needed for makeover is already in hand. Add-ons could eventually take the cost higher, but likely using private money. Opponents tried to convince the public a sinister council majority would not settle for the basics, and was making an end run around the public despite almost 50 open meetings on the project.
When the council declined to conduct an advisory vote on the project, foes took to the sidewalks. No sale.
Coeur d’Alene voters, like those in Wisconsin who recently rejected a recall of Gov. Scott Walker, recognize that public officials should not be recalled just because they take unpopular actions, let alone popular actions. Many Wisconsin voters said they did not like the way Walker handled the state’s labor issues, but would not oust him over policy decisions.
The last governor recalled was California’s Gray Davis in 2003, who lost his job because he was not Arnold Schwarzenegger. No state better illustrates the perils of direct democracy.
The next municipal election in Coeur d’Alene will be held in November 2013. There’s no telling what further good Bloem and company might commit in the meantime. All four can be excused for feeling more than a little beat up, and reticent about signing up for another round. If they decline, others in the city should take heart from the grit the incumbents have demonstrated, and step up to continue the progress.
The naysayers are sure to remain in the field. In a general election, they will have to fight something with something, not nothing, as they did with the recall effort.
Bloem, Goodlander, Kennedy and McEvers are truly something.
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