Voters recall two Forest Grove School Board members
Tallies late Tuesday support early returns, overwhelmingly ousting Terry Howell and Anna Tavera-Weller
Voters seemed to be ousting two Forest Grove School Board members Tuesday night in initial returns from a recall election.
Terry Howell was losing his bid to remain in office, with 61 percent of voters favoring a recall and only 39 percent voting to retain him. Anna Tavera-Weller was faring worse with 64 percent voting to oust her and 36 percent voting to keep her. Both joined the board in 2009 to serve four-year terms.
The recall was initiated by Jason and Jodi Giddings of Forest Grove, parents of an elementary-age daughter who were unhappy with Howell and Tavera-Weller's performances on the board during severe budget cuts in the spring.
The pro-recall group charged that the board members had not shown adequate leadership in approving a budget for 2011-12 that laid off teachers, eliminated electives and closed Gales Creek Elementary School.
Board chair Alisa Hampton, also elected to the body in 2009, was spared from the recall. Fred Marble, a longtime member who was reelected to the board in May, and Kate Grandusky, who defeated former Cornelius mayor Ralph Brown to take his board seat the same month, were exempt from recall.
Since early October, when the elections office certified the recall election, rhetoric on both sides of the issue continued to build. The Giddingses' group, dubbed 'Get on Board,' distributed flyers and bumper stickers in Forest Grove and Cornelius and posted updates on Facebook.
Recall opponents mounted a campaign against the board members' removal less than two weeks before the election date, Nov. 1, engaging the volunteer help of Sarah Pope, Oregon deputy director of Stand for Children, an education advocacy group based in Portland.
After that, both sides engaged in a vigorous online war of words.
Washington County Elections Division Manager Mickie Kawai said Friday that no recall had been mounted against a school board member in Forest Grove in at least 24 years. 'Recall, in general, is relatively rare,' Kawai noted. 'But it seems like there have been more recalls occurring around Oregon.'
This summer, residents of Vernonia recalled three city councilors after they fired former interim City Administrator Bill Haack. In late September, voters in Cornelius followed suit, ousting three members of that city council who fired City Manager Dave Waffle.
Recalled board members' positions become immediately vacant once election results are certified, according to language in a 2010 recall manual distributed by Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown's office in Salem.
Final results from the elections office on the Forest Grove School Board recall are due between Nov. 15 and Nov. 21.