A petition drive to remove three Flambeau School Board members failed due to a lack of proper documentation for the recall effort.
Petitioners gathered 482 signatures to recall two board members and 481 for the third, more than the minimum needed to force the recall. However, petition documents did not include written reasons for why petitioners were seeking a recall as required by state law.
Petitioners were seeking to recall board President Sam Stewart, Vice President Pat Anderson and Clerk Danielle Zimmer.
“I’m a little relieved,” Stewart said.
Petitioners gathered well over the 398 signatures needed to force a recall if all paperwork had met state law requirements.
“I didn’t find any [signatures] that were not valid,” said Rusk County Clerk Loren Beebe, who validated petitions to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest for Zimmer as board clerk and her father as board president among those facing possible recall.
Based on a careful examination of the recall petition, it was found that the header of the petition recall of the board members did not contain a reason for the recall which is related to the official responsibilities of the official, as required by Wis. Stat. 9.10(2)(b), according to Beebe.
“[I] hereby determine that the petition is insufficient,” Beebe said.
Petitioner Sara Baker thanked voters who signed the petitions. She said the group are considering launching another petition drive, perhaps coinciding with the spring election next year. Other petitioners included Doug Verdegan and Ruth Opachen.
“The process involved a lot of people and a lot of hours of work, talking with people and educating them on the reason for the recall,” Baker said.
Petitioners did include reasons for the recall on filed documents indicating an intent to seek a recall, but not on the actual petitions themselves. Reason for seeking a recall listed on the earlier documents included losing confidence in Stewart, having a hostile demeanor and being disrespectful to community members for Anderson and not making the best decisions in the interest of the kids and taxpayers for Zimmer.
“We made a technical error in the petition drive that is not correctable,” Baker said. “We are disappointed and accept the responsibility for the errors that were made.”
If petitions had been certified sufficient, they would have forced a special election under state law on the sixth Tuesday of their certification. The special election cost would have been paid for entirely by the Flambeau School District and not taxpayers elsewhere in the county.
Board members estimated the cost of a special election at $20,000 while petitioners projected it to be more around $7,000