The attempt to recall a Dunsmuir city councilor went public Thursday, when proponents set up a table in the town’s grocery store parking lot.
Dunsmuir residents Sandy Raine and Mabel Kelby met with passersby at Thriftway Foods beginning about 9 a.m to collect signatures and hand out petitions calling for removal of Leslie Wilde from office.
The attempt to recall a Dunsmuir city councilor went public Thursday, when proponents set up a table in the town’s grocery store parking lot. Dunsmuir residents Sandy Raine and Mabel Kelby met with passersby at Thriftway Foods beginning about 9 a.m to collect signatures and hand out petitions calling for removal of Leslie Wilde from office. Wilde showed up about noon with a group of her supporters. Standing on the corner a dozen feet from the proponents’ table, they stood facing the street and waved signs opposing the recall at passing motorists. One read: “Against the recall? Honk!!” For the next hour, a few cars honked; a few people visited the table. Proponents and opponents of the recall hardly spoke to each other. All remained calm. “They’ve got the right to do that,” Dick Kelby said of the Wilde and her supporters. He is a Dunsmuir Planning Commissioner and one of the ten Dunsmuir registered voters who launched the recall petition. The others are his wife Mabel, former Dunsmuir mayors Nick Mitchell, Arlis Steele and Bill Sanford, Dunsmuir city worker Brian Wilson, Guy Shoop III, Stephen Cutting, Susie Titus and John Quinn. “I don't know all those signatories,” said Kelby. “There’s absolutely no organization behind this. We’re not having meetings. That petition was put together by a lot of people. It’s a summation of all their comments.” The statement prefacing the petition alleges Wilde placed “her personal agenda and special interests above the good of the community.” It alleges she defames citizens who disagree with her and bars their participation in city committees. “Demanding that other council members support her special interests and when they refuse her, she writes letters to censure them or threatens to join lawsuits against them,” it alleges. It charges Wilde with forcing implementation of her campaign promises “that were rejected by the voters,” walking out on meetings that were still in session, and creating a hostile environment in the city office and in council chambers. In her written response to those charges, Wilde states, “In 2010, Arlis Steele, Nick Mitchell and Dick Kelby launched a divisive recall campaign that tore apart Dunsmuir. It was angry, extremely negative and designed to intimidate the council members.” Her response alleges the 2010 city council, which was comprised of four members of the citizens group that succeeded in recalling two councilors and winning two of three seats, “violated several laws and used city resources to punish their political enemies.” Standing on the corner Thursday, Wilde said, “It’s the same group of people who recalled the last city council. They demand that councilors vote their way or they threaten recall. We’re supposed to attract new businesses to town, and when visitors drive through town there’s this recall tent in the parking lot of the most prominent business in Dunsmuir. It’s political extortion.” Wilde was appointed to her seat in early May, 2013, by city councilors Dave Keisler and Ed Steele, who was mayor at the time. The appointment was made after the council lost three of its members and was down to two. To achieve a quorum, Keisler and Steele appointed a third council member instead of calling for an election. Gathering signatures The Intent to Recall petition states that proponents need 281 signatures of registered voters living within the Dunsmuir city limits, and that they need to be submitted to the county clerk’s office by Feb. 3 at 4 p.m. Siskiyou County Clerk Colleen Setzer said, “After the proponents submit the signatures, we have 30 working days to verify them.” Setzer said that if the required number of signatures are verified, the next step would be scheduling a recall election. She said, “The time of the election depends on when they submit their signatures. There’s a certain time frame.” Sandy Raine said at least a dozen people are taking petitions door-to-door. “There’s no organized group,” she said. “People just come by and pick up petitions. We check to see if they are registered voters in Dunsmuir.” Asked why she supports the recall, she said, “A city councilor needs to be open-minded and willing to listen and make decisions based on the entire community’s wants and needs.” Standing next to Wilde on the corner, Dunsmuir resident Barbara Marden said there’s no justification for a recall. “This woman has been an excellent representative of the people who voted for her,” Marden said. Dunsmuir resident Alex Booth said, “I’ve always thought recalls had to have some kind of backing. But these people don’t like Leslie as a person. You can’t just recall someone because you don’t like them.” Pam Padula, wife of city councilor Tim Padula, said, “When she got on the council, I didn’t think she should be because there was no quorum. After watching Leslie at work, I believe Dunsmuir got more than its money’s worth. Leslie puts all her heart and soul into everything she does.” Mabel Kelby said people who cannot get out can still participate. “If they want to sign a petition, let us know,” she said. “We’ll send a petition to your home to sign.” The contact number on the petition is the Kelby’s residence, 235-4475. Wilde said she doesn’t plan any further action during the gathering of signatures, adding, “But if they are successful I will absolutely campaign, and I will fight for every vote.”