Yamhelas Trail controversy spurs Yamhill County recall push
The effort to oust controversial Yamhill County Commissioner Lindsay Berschauer from office became official recently when the organization who has taken up the task earned preliminary approval from the county clerk's office to go forward.
Save Yamhill County, which characterizes itself as a nonpartisan group made up of county residents, launched the effort to recall Berschauer in July after she refused their demands to resign.
A group of about two dozen people staged a rally in front of the Yamhill County Courthouse and during the Board of Commissioners' weekly meeting.
"Those assembled were Yamhill citizens and voters who were fed up with Berschauer's waste of taxpayer dollars, abuse of county employees and bad faith representation," a release from Save Yamhill County said.
The organization filed the requisite forms in early August to begin circulating a petition to place recall of Berschauer on a November election ballot. The forms were accepted and deemed sufficient by County Clerk Brian Van Bergen the following day, although the organization must file several additional forms in order to begin circulating the petition.
Petitioners will have until Nov. 1 to submit the signatures of 6,783 voters, roughly 15% of the votes cast in the last election for governor. The clerk's office has 10 days to verify the signatures and deem there are enough to warrant a recall election, if Berschauer chooses not to resign within five days.
Chief petitioner on the recall effort is Phillip Forve, with Erin Gardner, Lynnette Shaw and Anne Falla serving as authorized agents for Save Yamhill County. Readers may recognize Shaw as the candidate that attempted to unseat State Rep. Ron Noble for the House District 24 position in 2020. She serves as Save Yamhill County's director.
Petitioners are primarily unhappy with Berschauer due to her opposition to the Yamhelas Westsider Trail, her attacks on county personnel during commission meetings and her joining with fellow Commissioner Mary Starrett in approving Newberg's urban renewal plan with the condition that it go before the town's citizens for a vote, which the commission has no standing to require. Opponents pointed out that Berschauer was heavily supported in her bid for election by opponents of the trail as well.
Berschauer responded to the recall effort with a lengthy statement on her Facebook page. She questioned Save Yamhill County's claim to be a nonpartisan organization and said their efforts were actually designed to squelch hers and her supporters' conservative values.
"It's not really about me, it's about our values," she wrote. "When I decided to run I did so with a promise to speak about my principles in ways that were simple, clear and transparent. Throughout my career in Oregon, I have always been drawn to plain-speaking, no BS, non-establishment candidates who step forward because they've reached the point where government is harming their livelihood."
Berschauer called out Shaw for her opposition to the Timber Unity-supported candidate and inconsistencies in her voters' pamphlet statement. She further chastised fellow Commissioner Casey Kulla for what she characterized as his commitment to "disconnecting timber jobs from our economy" and his "weaponization" of the media to his advantage. Kulla was the commission's lone nay vote on the county pulling out of the Yamhelas trail project, requiring Newberg to get voter approval for its urban renewal plan and many other controversial decisions carried through by his two cohorts.
In her Facebook post, Berschauer said that ultimately, Save Yamhill County's desire is to turn the county from conservative to liberal and "weaken the strong agricultural, timber and socially conservative values that have defined us. … Statewide progressive groups see Yamhill County as the next battlefield since we are on the outskirts of the Portland metro region and in order for Portland's policies to work (taxation, mass transit, etc.) they must expand their reach. It's all about control, and unfortunately the needs of our families won't be a priority if they win."
The effort to recall Berschauer stepped up in early August when it was revealed that she had posted on her Facebook page Shaw's Carlton address, sparking Save Yamhill County officials to report Berschauer's so-called "doxxing" (the release of personal information designed to intimidate opponents) to the Yamhill County Sheriff's Office and the Oregon Secretary of State.
"This type of behavior is abhorrent," Gardner said. "Unfortunately, this is representative of the aggressive bullying tactics which led us to file a recall petition against Commissioner Berschauer in the first place. Lynnette Shaw is a private citizen and voter in Yamhill County. For an elected official to try to intimidate her dissatisfied constituents is unacceptable and not representative of the Yamhill County we know and love."
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