Alderman Greg Rose submitted a written challenge to the validity of the recall petition filed against him.
The Clintonville Tribune-Gazette filed an open records request to obtain a copy of Rose’s challenge to the petition, as well as William VanDaalwyk’s response to that challenge. VanDaalwyk originally filed the intent to circulate the recall petition.
In a letter to Clintonville City Clerk Peggy Johnson, Rose challenged the validity of the petition, and cited information from Municipal Corporation Law.
Rose stated in the letter, which was not dated, “Under statutes and charters authorizing the recall of municipal officers, courts have rather frequently concluded that the grounds stated in recall petitions were insufficient to invoke the recall election machinery. Such courts have demanded that the acts of the officers sought to be recalled must have amounted, in effect, to misfeasance, malfeasance or nonfeasance in office, and amount to something more than mere disagreement on matters of policy.”
The letter continued, “I do not believe that anything I have done (or not done) would amount to mis/mal/nonfeasance. Recalls are reserved for major issues, and I have done nothing of the sort. I would hope that you would examine my voting record and any public actions that I’ve taken and agree.”
Rose concluded the letter by requesting to meet with Johnson to discuss the matter further.
In a letter to Johnson, dated, Sept. 9, VanDaalwyk rebutted Rose’s challenge.
In the letter, VanDaalwyk cited state statutes regarding recalls. These included that a challenge must address any insufficiency in a petition. A challenge to validity of signatures on a petition must be demonstrated by affidavits or other supporting evidence that shows the failure of complying with statutory requirements.
The letter also addressed Roses citing Municipal Corporation Law. VanDaalwyk stated in the letter, “His reference to Municipal Corporation Law has no relevance to this recall petition as recall of local elected officials is governed by 9.10(1)(a) and 9.10(4) , Wis. Stats. While I believe Mr. Rose has engaged in activities clearly stated in the recall petition, under current law, a recall petition may merely state differences of political opinion as the reason for the recall. (Redner, 450 N.W. 2d at 810).”
The letter also addressed the fact Rose requested to meet with Johnson to discuss the issue.
The letter continued, “Mr. Rose’s request to meet with you to further discuss this matter is not appropriate as when a recall petition is filed, the municipal clerk has 31 days to review the petition to determine whether it is sufficient. Wis. Stat. sec. 9.10(4)(a). The clerk has no authority to determine the truth or falsity of any of the reasons for the recall set forth in the petition.”
VanDaalwyk concluded his rebuttal letter stating “Mr. Rose’s challenge is without merit.”
The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB), which oversees the recall process in Wisconsin published the Recall of Local Elected Officials document, which explains the process. In this document it states “any local elected officeholder who has served one year of the term for which he or she was most recently elected, as of the date the recall petition is offered for filing, can be recalled.” It does not state recalls are reserved for major issues.
The document also states that the officeholder can challenge the sufficiency of the recall petition. Grounds for challenge include: an elector signing the recall petition more than once, a person signing the name of another elector, an ineligible individual signing the petition, the challenger establishes that the purpose of the petition was misrepresented by the circulator of the petition so the signer was not aware of what the petition was for, and signatures obtained before the first day for circulation or after the last day of circulation.
There was a special city council meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 23 at 4 p.m. One of the agenda items was “Recall Petition Certification of Sufficiency.”
Johnson told the Tribune-Gazette that the council has no say as to whether a recall election will take place but she has to file the Certification of Sufficiency with the council. A recall election date can then be set.
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