Dunsmuir voters will decide this spring whether to keep a city councilor in office.
Dunsmuir voters will decide this spring whether to keep a city councilor in office. Proponents for a recall of Councilor Leslie Wilde submitted enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot, according to Siskiyou County Clerk Colleen Setzer. She said the recall election will be consolidated with the June 3 primary. “They submitted 339 signatures,” Setzer said. “We verified 290. They needed 281 to put the race on the ballot.” She said the signatures were submitted Jan. 21 with a Feb. 3 deadline. Recall proponent Mabel Kelby said she knew they submitted enough signatures. “You gather more than required, by 10 to 20 percent,” she said Sunday. “We had the booth at the grocery store. We went door to door the next day or so. But people knew signatures were being gathered and called us. They came and picked up petitions.” Wilde said the recall effort was led by Mabel Kelby’s husband Dick, “who sought appointment to the very same council vacancy I now fill, and as a result of his being passed over for appointment he immediately began a recall effort against me,” she wrote in an email Sunday. “This current recall is about my personality, not my performance.” Dick Kelby served Wilde with recall papers at her seat during the Nov. 21 city council meeting. He said Monday he was not the one who started it. “I can’t give a name because there was more than one person,” he said. “There were numerous people who wanted to see a recall petition out there.” He said the recall process required a contact person with the county clerk, adding, “That was my wife. She transferred the paperwork back and forth.” Wilde said, “Between when I was appointed and when I was served with a notice of recall, I voted the same way as my fellow council members on 99 percent of the issues. Except water rates. I voted against raising water rates.” Allegations for recall Proponents say in their written reasons for recall that Wilde placed “her personal agenda and special interests above the good of the community.” They allege 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. Wilde wrote, “Claims made by proponents for the recall include bogus charges that I was appointed against the will of the voters, that I have special interests they do not bother to name, and that I demand fellow council members vote with me or else face censure.” She said she sponsored a single censure resolution, believing the mayor had broken state and municipal laws. “I thought the mayor’s conduct was outrageous, but I never attacked him personally, and only brought to light his behavior,” she wrote. “My oath of office is to follow the law, and not look the other way when I see or hear about potential corruption.” Certification of petition The next step in the process, Setzer said, will be the city manager presenting certification of the recall petition to the Dunsmuir City Council at its Feb. 20 meeting. “The city council will call the election,” she said. “Or they can act to call the election up to 14 days after the 20th,” she said. “If they don't call the election by the 14th day, then the county elections official calls it. That's me.” She said that voters will see the item on the June 3 ballot in two parts. “With a recall, the council person's name will go on the ballot with a yes or no question: Should this person be recalled?” she said. “Immediately after that, the voter will choose from a list of candidates.” The first vote will be decided by a simple majority, according to Setzer. If the vote to recall fails, the process is stopped and the councilor continues in office. If the recall vote wins the councilor is recalled, and the candidate who gets the most votes takes the vacant seat. Setzer listed the qualifications for candidates. “They have to be registered voters, and live within city limits. They must be at least 18 years old at the time they would take office. They need to file to run by March 7.” She said she’ll have 28 days to certify the recall election results. “The 28th day would be July 1st,” she said. “If the recall has succeeded, I would expect the new councilor to be sworn in at the next regular meeting.” Mabel Kelby said she will campaign up to the election. “The recall effort is not over,” she said. “We will be out carrying the effort forward. We need people to show up at council meetings. We need everybody to come out in June and recall Leslie.” In her email, Wilde referred to the 2010 recall, which she said was ugly and divisive. “My hope is that what the voters learned is that a recall is the wrong way to solve policy or personality differences,” she wrote. “I opposed virtually everything Mayor Arlis Steele supported as a member of the council in 2012. But I didn’t sponsor a recall against him. Instead I took out candidate papers, put my policy ideas next to his, campaigned against him and beat him in his effort to be reelected.” In the Nov. 2012 election, Wilde came in third in a race for two council seats. She said being the target of a recall “is a very painful and demoralizing experience having fellow citizens take sides against me, including reading letters in the paper from the mayor encouraging my recall,” she wrote. “If you disagree with some of my policy ideas, take solace in the fact that I am only one of five votes on the council, and that policies go through amendments and changes before being adopted. Lastly, remember I am human and trying the best I can under the circumstances.”