Galena City School District Board President Kim Kopp will have to stand for a recall election.
The recall process began in September when former school board member Jenny Bryant, who resigned her seat on the school board over the summer, submitted an application to recall Kopp, accompanied by 10 signatures. The application was accepted by Galena City Clerk and City Manager Shanda Huntington, and Bryant went on to obtain 25 signatures on a recall petition, as required by city law.
The City Council at its October meeting took the next steps in the recall process by setting December 6th as the date for the election. If a majority of voters choose to recall Kopp, she will lose her seat on the school board.
The notion of whether the city council could alter or reject the recall petition was on the minds of many of the audience members in the packed council chambers at the October meeting. In particular, many in attendance objected to a lack of specifics in the recall statement submitted by Bryant, and the accusation that Kopp’s simultaneous leadership on both the School Board and efforts affiliated with the Galena Bible Church create a “very divisive wedge.” But several council members and Mayor Jon Korta invoked local and state law that limits the city council’s involvement with a recall process to the sole task of selecting a date for the election.
City Attorney Charles Cacciola told the council over the phone that the intent of the recall laws is much the same as those for referendums or ballot initiatives, “which is to provide voters an opportunity to directly participate in the democratic process. For that reason, all of these ordinances and statutes very liberally to give the voters an opportunity to have their voices heard.”
That means that the city council does not have the authority or responsibility to delve into the text of the recall statement and verify facts or allegations it contains. As Mayor Jon Korta explained: “We are not in a position to verify. The clerk has certain responsibilities, and they are stated what her responsibilities are. We have to remember that, agree or disagree, an individual in the community has a right to this process, to initiate a recall petition. And it is up to the clerk to verify that all of the documentation is in order. Our clerk has verified that it has been in order.”
Kopp will have a 200-word rebuttal statement on the December 6 ballot, alongside the original argument for recall submitted by Jenny Bryant.