Monday, April 22, 2024

Voters recall WBCSD trustees

Staff Writer | August 30, 2023 1:00 AM

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PRIEST RIVER — Voters have successfully recalled West Bonner County School District trustees Keith Rutledge and Susan Brown.

With all five precincts reporting, in Zone 4 there were 762 votes to recall Rutledge, or 62.66%, compared to 454 votes against, or 37.34%. In Zone 2, there were 624 votes to recall Brown, or 65.96%, compared to 322 against, or 34.04%.

In Zone 2, in early voting and absentee ballots, there were 121 votes to recall Brown to 40 against, 75.16% to 24.84%. In Zone 4, in early voting and absentee ballots, there were 168 votes to recall Rutledge to 54 against, 75.68% to 24.32%

For the recall to be successful, at least 245 people needed to vote in favor of removing Rutledge from office, and be at least one vote more than those seeking to retain him. For Brown, those seeking to remove her from office needed to total at least 177 votes and be at least one vote more than those seeking to retain her.

A total of 3,411 residents were eligible to vote in the recall election. Only residents in the two zones were eligible to vote, with 1,485 eligible in Brown’s zone and 1,926 eligible in Rutledge’s zone.

Mike Rosedale, Bonner County clerk, predicted a heavy turnout last week. At that time over 300 votes had already been collected from 244 absentee ballots and 59 early voters.

Community members launched the recall campaign in mid-June, saying the two trustees “failed to uphold their oath” and did not have the “first and greatest concerns for the educational welfare of West Bonner County School District students attending public schools.”

Within two weeks, recall organizers crafted two petitions that gained enough signatures to get the recall election on the ballot. The group of parents and community members spearheading the efforts titled their mission “Recall, Replace, Rebuild.”

Residents involved in the recall created signs, attended meetings, wrote letters, designed a website, set up social media pages, collected donations, and hosted events to accomplish their goal. Those against the recall also campaigned on social media and hosted town hall events.

The petition against Rutledge garnered 337 valid signatures — 94 more than the minimum needed to instigate a recall. The petition to recall Brown collected a total of 243 signatures — 66 more than the minimum needed.

When Rutledge was elected for his Zone 4 spot in 2021, he received 244 votes, or 50.83%. During the same election, Brown won with 176 votes, or 50.43%