Organizers of a Sutherlin recall campaign need to stop and think about their end goal before they ask one more person to sign their petitions.
Recall proponents are dissatisfied with the actions of Mayor Denny Cameron and Sutherlin City Councilors Frank Egbert and Karen Meier. We understand their objections to the behavior and attitude of the trio. We realize they’d like to see them removed from office.
They need to think beyond ousting the elected officials, however, and find candidates willing to run for office in November to replace them.
This makes more sense for several reasons. Most important, recall elections should not be staged over personality differences and that appears to be part of the problem in Sutherlin.
Recall elections are for serious offenses by public officials: fraud, waste, embezzlement, harassment, abuse or some other malfeasance with criminal intent.
Sutherlin voters elected both Cameron and Egbert twice. Both come up for re-election in November. That’s the time to let the mayor and councilor know others would do a better job.
Who are the other candidates who would treat city employees better and bicker less? That’s what recall organizers need to know. Otherwise, they might be successful in their recall, but they might end up with even worse applicants for the open positions on the council.
Organizers would discover that only after spending time and effort to collect 472 signatures on each of three positions by Aug. 15 and then campaigning successfully for the trio to be dumped in a special election. After all that, Cameron and Egbert would be kicked off the council only a few months before their terms would end anyway.
But the city of Sutherlin would have to pay the cost of the special election. And such elections often turn divisive, pitting neighbor against neighbor, with bad feelings far outlasting the election.
Instead, recall organizers could sponsor a lively, upbeat election campaign. They could find a couple of stellar candidates, help them build a platform, do a little fundraising for some campaign signs and get city residents excited about the potential for new leadership.
Finding new candidates able to defeat incumbents is a much more effective use of volunteer time. It’s also a more appropriate use of our election system. Since Meier is not up for re-election in November, those who are unhappy with her will need to wait longer to see a contested race for her seat. A sound defeat of her colleagues might, however, send her a message.
Given all the complaints and the recall threat against Cameron, Egbert and Meier, we can hope they would employ a bit more diplomacy in their future dealings with the Sutherlin staff.
It would be a much better reflection on Sutherlin if residents could avoid a recall campaign and instead recruit some fresh faces to run for office in November.
Skip the signatures, Sutherlin residents. Shun an unnecessary election.