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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Recall backers hand in petitions

CdA elections clerk could set Aug. 28 vote

It’s truth time for organizers of a recall effort to replace Coeur d’Alene’s mayor and half of the City Council.

Members of RecallCda delivered boxes of petitions signed by voters to City Hall on Monday morning. By 5 p.m. on June 19, they’ll know whether they’ve collected enough valid signatures to trigger a recall vote.

RecallCda needs 4,311 signatures of registered city voters to prompt the vote, a number that represents 20 percent of the ballots cast during the city’s last general election. A rough count Monday by City Clerk Susan Weathers indicated that about 5,300 people have signed the petitions.

The recall effort targets Mayor Sandi Bloem and council members Deanna Goodlander, Mike Kennedy and Woody McEvers, who were the four-vote majority that opposed a public advisory vote in January on a $14.2 million makeover planned for McEuen Field, a popular green space on Lake Coeur d’Alene.

Watch Huckleberries Online blogger Dave Oliveria discuss the recall effort on KHQ

“More than 5,300 people signed the petitions, and they purposefully wanted to send a message to the city that they wanted a vote,” said Mary Souza, one of RecallCda’s organizers.

The next step in the process is for the Kootenai County elections department to certify whether each signature is valid. Then Weathers will count the certified signatures to determine whether RecallCda met the 4,311 threshold. If so, she’ll pick a date for the recall vote.

Under Idaho code, Weathers has the choice of four possible dates for the vote. The earliest is Aug. 28; the latest would be next May.

About 75 RecallCda supporters gathered in the City Hall parking lot to celebrate the delivery of the petitions. They’ve been canvassing neighborhoods in recent weeks to gather signatures.

Derec Aujay, who ran unsuccessfully for City Council last fall, said he signed the petition because he thought the council’s plans for McEuen Field were too extravagant.

“There should have been a public vote because of the amount of money involved,” he said. “The (council) said ‘no,’ so here we are.”

The co-chairs of opposition Decline to Sign effort were also present at City Hall on Monday morning. Jennifer Drake and Sara Meyer said they’re happy with the current city leadership.

Both women, who are in their early 30s, grew up in Coeur d’Alene. The Coeur d’Alene of their youth had a depressed economy and a struggling downtown with vacant storefronts. Through intentional public investment, Drake and Meyer said, the city of 44,000 has become a place where they want to raise their families.

As examples, they cited the city’s involvement in the Salvation Army’s Ray and Joan Kroc Center, a new library, the Prairie bike trail, U.S. Bank’s call center and transformation of several old mill sites along the Spokane River.

“I’m not sure these things would have happened without these four (people on the council) and their positive vision for the community,” Drake said.