OPINION: Don't sign the petition to recall Councilor Dunsmuir in Estacada
Here's some sage advice: When approached with a request to lend your signature to any recall petition, start by asking lots of questions, don't believe everything you read or are told, and do your own homework.
Recall petitions are often heavily laden with personal bias. And, frequently, the motivation behind a petition contorts the intended purpose of the recall process.
Recalls are generally reserved for special circumstances when an elected leader has committed an egregious act (or acts) that breach serious moral, ethical or legal boundaries. These involve things like sexual misconduct, corruption, embezzlement, nepotism, or abusive racist and sexist conduct.
In those cases, recall is a necessary tool used to expel a person early from their elected office for violating the public's trust and disqualifying themselves from serving entire cross-sections of the community.
But in recent years, the recall process has been hijacked simply on the basis of social and political differences. That's where voters need to be careful.
We already elect mayors and city councilors to specific terms. And elected leaders must run for re-election when they want to retain these positions. That's when voters have a chance to remove or replace people from these elected positions.
We should not default to recalling elected leaders every time a politician makes an unpopular decision or expresses an opinion that doesn't fit with our own narrow dogma.
This is the scenario playing out in the Estacada community, with a recall petition circulating regarding City Councilor Katy Dunsmuir.
The accusations against Dunsmuir seem to boil down to a basic difference of opinion.
In the recall petition:
• Dunsmuir is accused of placing her personal agenda ahead of the citizens of Estacada. Elected officials are allowed to form opinions and cast votes according to what they deem is in the best interests of the community. Their choices are in no way required to side with popular (or minority) opinion.
• Dunsmuir is accused of attempting to impede public testimony regarding the purchase of the Red Fox Motel by Clackamas County, and its conversion into housing. Dunsmuir notes that community meetings would have been included in the project's due-diligence phase, a process she would have supported.
• Dunsmuir is accused of making "derogatory and disrespectful" statements online toward fellow city councilors, the mayor and community organizations. In a Facebook discussion with another Estacada resident about the potential housing project at the Red Fox Motel, Dunsmuir said, "Before you light your torch or sharpen your pitchfork, please understand that community meetings and Town Halls are already in the works, with representation from the Housing Authority itself because community involvement/input is." The petitioner found this interaction upsetting, but it excludes Dunsmuir's full response and is also directed at a constituent, rather than any of the groups previously mentioned. Beyond this, the petitioner offers nothing in the way of specific instances of disrespectful statements toward fellow councilors, the mayor or community groups. And when asked by the Estacada News for examples, the petitioner declined to disclose proof that these comments exist. Recall elections are a public process. If the petitioner isn't willing to share that information, in the interest of transparency, then this item should be stricken from the petition.
Step-by-step, one-by-one, the accusations against Dunsmuir tumble like dominos, revealing this recall petition as an attempt to remove a public official from office based entirely on a personal vendetta. Failing to substantiate the claims against Dunsmuir, this petition becomes yet another example of an inappropriate use of the recall process.
Before you lend your signature to this recall, ask lots of questions, don't believe everything you read (including this editorial), and do your own homework.
Ask yourself if the accusations listed in the petition have been proven, and if they truly merit recall.
We believe Dunsmuir has been acting in the city's best interests and has done nothing worthy of being removed from office. Our best advice: Don't sign this petition.
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