A citizen petition to put a question on the ballot for the November election, to recall Grand County Council chairman Lynn Jackson failed to receive the 580 votes required by the Sept. 2 deadline.
Grand County Clerk/Auditor Diana Carroll said that Utah election law requires ballot issues for the November election be presented to the county clerk 65 days prior to the election.
“The weekend and holiday made that date September 2, 2014,” Carroll said. “I did not receive a valid petition by the deadline.”
Chris Baird, a candidate for the Grand County Council who drafted the petition, said he believed that he had until Sept. 20, to submit it to the county clerk based on Grand County’s form of Government, which stipulates that ballot items must be submitted 45 days before election day.
“Apparently we passed the deadline and didn’t know it,” Baird said.
Grand County Attorney Andrew Fitzgerald said that the 65-day state and federal deadline is set to allow enough time for military and overseas ballots to be mailed. He said that the 45-day deadline established by Grand County’s form of government makes it “literally impossible to get the petition on for the next election.”
The petition documents stated, in part, that the recall was being sought as a result of the claim that Jackson has stifled public comment on important issues affecting the citizens of Grand County.
A key complaint was a heated county council meeting on Aug. 5, where Jackson initially refused to allow citizens to speak about Grand County joining a coalition with six other rural, southeastern Utah counties. At the meeting, Jackson relented after public outcry and later apologized.
Baird issued a statement last week conceding that the petition had not received enough signatures, but that he believed it had made a difference in the political landscape.
“By Sept. 2, I believe that there were around 400 signatures,” he said. “I realized that state and federal law may take precedent over our local plan for government. I don’t believe that people signed the petition in order to punish Mr. Jackson. I think they signed the petition because they wanted to make it known that they disapproved of Mr. Jackson’s style of governance. I have seen changes in the way Mr. Jackson operates, and I appreciate those changes. At this point, we likely have around 500 signatures. I think the message has been delivered, and I appreciate the recent changes I’ve seen in how Mr. Jackson conducts the public’s business.”
Jackson said that he was relieved that it was over, but that it was concerning that, “such a small group of people, being led by one manipulative individual willing to mislead and misrepresent facts, can bring about such hatred and discontent in our community.”
“I respect everyone’s right to their opinions, but we certainly have a small group who would have us all believe they speak for everyone and their view point is the only one that should be considered,” he said. “They have or take the time to attend meetings and write letters, which is great. But as a representative of all our citizens, I also take in the views of those who don’t attend meetings or write letters, I hear from them everywhere, at football games, at community events, at the grocery market, etc. They are out there and they expect their elected representatives to speak for them.”
Carol Mayer, who signed the petition, said that even though it failed to garner enough signatures, she thought the process was constructive.
“The conversation on the ground was fantastic,” she said. “Not just for the recall, but for the other issues it brought it up. It got people talking and it raised awareness. That is an important thing about democracy.”
Deadline missed; Petitioners say effort made impact on citizen awareness
I respect everyone’s right to their opinions, but we certainly have a small group who would have us all believe they speak for everyone and their view point is the only one that should be considered. They have or take the time to attend meetings and write letters, which is great. But as a representative of all our citizens, I also take in the views of those who don’t attend meetings or write letters, I hear from them everywhere, at football games, at community events, at the grocery market, etc. They are out there and they expect their elected representatives to speak for them