Recall effort moves ahead

By Chris Collins October 24, 2012 01:11 pm

By Chris Collins

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In a second attempt to gather enough valid signatures to force a recall election of two Baker School Board members, petitioners submitted the minimum number needed Monday to Baker County Clerk Tami Green.

The recall committee submitted 918 signatures seeking the recall of Lynne Burroughs, school board chair, and 918 for the recall of director Mark Henderson, Green said.

The group, led by chief petitioner Kerry McQuisten of Baker City, has until Nov. 7 to continue to collect signatures, Green added. 

In their first effort, petitioners fell just three short of the 913 valid signatures needed to place a measure on the ballot to recall Burroughs and 13 short of the 913 needed to recall Henderson.

The petitioners originally submitted 1,066 signatures calling for the recall of Burroughs and 1,059 for Henderson’s recall by the July 30 deadline.

The numbers were reduced after the Clerk’s Office invalidated signatures of people who were not registered to vote, were inactive voters, whose signatures did not match their voter registration card or those who signed more than one petition. In some cases, entire petition sheets, bearing up to 10 signatures, were thrown out because of errors committed by the petitioner.

McQuisten and other petitoners are seeking the recall of the two directors because of their vote to censure fellow board member Kyle Knight.

Director Andrew Bryan also voted in favor of the censure, but he is not included in the recall.

Knight and director Jim Longwell voted against censure.

“Things are going well,” McQuisten wrote in an email to the Herald. “We realize the amount we turned in won’t make the cut after invalidations, but we were 16 days early and wanted to turn in the minimum number to have an idea how many signatures will be cut.”

The Clerk’s Office has 10 calendar days to go over the signatures and report how many were not valid, McQuisten said, adding that most of the signatures submitted Monday were validated in the first round. 

“We did gather quite a few new signers who came to the park, and verified a lot of those online as active and registered right as they signed,” she said. “We’ll keep gathering up until the deadline.”

Separate from the recall, Knight has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Pendleton against the district, Superintendent Walt Wegener, Burroughs and Henderson. He is seeking a reversal of the censure and up to $500,000 in compensatory damages and $200,000 in punitive damages along with attorney fees and costs. 

 Knight says any monetary award he receives as a result of the lawsuit will be used to establish an educational foundation for Baker students once his expenses are paid.