Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


Recall petitions OK'd


August 18, 2011

Recall votes for Haines Borough Assembly members Daymond Hoffman and Joanne Waterman will be on the ballot for the October municipal election.

Borough clerk Julie Cozzi on Tuesday certified the Hoffman and Waterman recall petitions as "sufficient," after the Haines Recall Committee on Aug. 12 submitted each with more than the required 275 signatures.

Cozzi said this week that seats of assembly members who are recalled would be filled by assembly appointment until the 2012 municipal election.

If both recalls pass, the assembly may find itself in a more difficult position than it faced June 13, when a required four of five assembly members could not agree on appointing a new member to the assembly, a failure that led to the recall.

In the event Hoffman and Waterman are recalled, the four remaining assembly members would have to come to unanimous agreement on their replacements.

The recall petitions were issued July 21. The committee had 60 days from that date to collect signatures but sped up the process to make the October ballot.

"The fact that we got so many signatures in such a short time is the result of two things; one is the hard work of the volunteers and the other is the nature of the offense," said Jim Shook, chairman of the committee. "I think it’s, nationally, a time when everyone is paying more attention to their elected officials."

The petition for Hoffman had 303 valid signatures and the petition for Waterman had 297. The benchmark of at least 275 certified signatures for each petition is equivalent to 25 percent of the voters in the previous municipal election.

The petitions claim Hoffman and Waterman failed to perform prescribed duties when they voted June 13 to set a special election instead of filling the vacant assembly seat within the code-required 30 days. Greg Goodman vacated the seat in May, following a Juneau Superior Court ruling that he did not meet borough residency requirements.

"It’s important for the borough to follow the law, and this was kind of the peak of a long string of things that have concerned a lot of people about the assembly," said planning commissioner and local blogger Roger Maynard, who signed the petitions.

Another petition signer, assembly candidate Jerry Erny, said he supported the recall effort because "the whole thing was handled improperly," going back to the assembly decision to certify Goodman’s election.

"I think everybody in the whole community is frustrated by the entire situation," Erny said.

Shook and about a dozen other petition sponsors collected signatures. Shook said he would continue his involvement in the recall campaign, which he called "a rule of law and an ethics issue."

"We want to make sure that the electorate, first of all, is educated as to what occurred, and with hard facts, not with hyperbole or political prejudice or anything of that nature," Shook said. "Who sits on the borough assembly is a decision of the voters of the borough, not any recall petition."

Assemblyman Hoffman this week before the petitions were deemed "sufficient" said he assumed the recall votes were "going to happen."

"It sounds like I will be able to put a rebuttal on the ballot, and I’ve been thinking about some things, but I don’t have anything definite at this point," he said.

Two other assembly members, Jerry Lapp and Scott Rossman, joined in the controversial vote to fill the vacant seat through a special election. Lapp is seeking re-election in October. Rossman chose to not seek another term.