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Cornelius recall on track for fall vote

Recall election could share ballot with primary to replace David Wu
by: Chase Allgood Recall supporters rallied at Cornelius City Hall to drum up interest in signing petitions to oust the city’s mayor and two councilors in July.

Two recall petition drives and the prospect of a special congressional election have turned a mild Washington County summer hot with political intrigue.

In Cornelius, backers of an effort to oust Mayor Neal Knight and city councilors Mari Gottwald and Jamie Minshall have reportedly gathered at least 300 signatures, putting that group just 91 away from forcing a recall election.

Brad Coffey, who is organizing the recall effort, wouldn't confirm the number of signatures gathered, but did say he expected to have enough to turn his paperwork into the city this week.

But mere numbers aren't enough for Coffey. He wants to offer every registered voter a chance at signing the recall petition, which could take some time. His group just began door-to-door canvassing last week.

'I could probably turn in enough signatures by the end of this week,' Coffey said. 'But I want to give everyone the chance to sign the petition and get out our message.'

The group, which is organizing online at team3recall.com, has 61 days left, plenty of time to boost their signature count to well over the 391 required by elections officials.

'It is clear that we will get the required signatures,' Coffey said.

Gathering more than the minimum level of signatures is a must for any petition drive, as many signatures are thrown out by elections officials during the verification process.

School board recall effort behind schedule

Meanwhile, a group of activists trying to recall a pair of Forest Grove School Board members is scrambling to gather enough valid signatures to meet a late September deadline.

Unhappy with the way administrators and the board made budget-cutting decisions last spring, Jodi and Jason Giddings of Gales Creek mounted the recall effort in late June. If successful, the question could move to a vote this fall.

As of Tuesday morning, Jason Giddings said his army of 30 collectors had gathered about 550 signatures each on petitions to oust board members Anna Tavera-Weller and Terry Howell.

With 54 days left on the 90-day elections office clock - and 1,616 valid signatures required for each board member - recall organizers are racing against time.

To be on track at this point, recall loyalists should have secured at least 650 signatures, or an average of 18 per day.

'Right now we're not collecting as fast as we need to in order to reach our goal,' Giddings said. Deadline for the recall drive, which began June 28, is Sept. 26.

While Giddings described the effort as 'snowballing,' citing successes outside the Forest Grove City Library and in front of the 22nd Street Station Café, he also conceded it was hard work. 'It's tedious,' he said. 'Some of our people are doing really well, but others have only gathered 10 signatures.'

Collection efforts at a Cornelius park yielded little progress, noted Giddings, so the group's strategy has been to 'keep moving around.' Collectors attempt to vet potential signers by asking if they're registered to vote and whether they live inside the Forest Grove School District boundaries.

'Once in a while a person gets past us,' Giddings said.

After classes start up again the second week of September, the Giddingses are planning to hold an all-school town hall to answer parents' questions about the reasons for the recall.

'That'll be the final push,' Jason Giddings noted.