Pawhuska to prepare for recall election

Robert Smith

Pawhuska city officials said Friday that enough valid signatures were gathered during a recent petition drive to force a recall election of four members of the five-member city council.

City Attorney John Heskett said he would draft a proclamation which calls for a special election. Heskett said the proclamation will be submitted to the secretary of the Osage County Election Board, who in turn will submit the document to state officials. The recall election will be conducted by the state through the Osage County Election Board, he said.

Councilors, on whom Pawhuska citizens will have the chance to vote in the recall election, will be John Brazee, Mark Buchanan, Rodger Milleson and Roger Taylor.

Ward 2 Councilor Jourdan Foran, who took office in May, has been in office too short a time to be subject to a recall, according to organizers of the petition drive.

Former city councilor and local attorney Steve Holcombe on July 15 submitted to city government copies of petitions bearing the signatures of Pawhuska citizens interested in recalling members of the council. Holcombe is a member of a committee that organized the petition drive.

City Clerk Barbara Smith explained in a statement issued Friday that the recall petitions received by city government were deemed valid because all of the petition circulators provided notarized affidavits and the petitions contained signatures, places of residence, street numbers and the date of signing. All petitions were submitted within 15 days of the date of the first signature, Smith’s statement said.

Interim City Manager Tonya Bright, along with the city clerk and the city attorney reviewed the petitions and compared them with a list of registered, qualified voters, Smith’s statement said. The review turned up 18 signatures that were invalid because they did not represent the names of registered, qualified voters, the statement said. There were also 12 duplicate signatures.

“Even discounting the elimination of the 30 invalid signatures, the number of signatures surpasses the required amount of 108,” the statement added.

Holcombe said in a statement that the signature collectors and members of the Pawhuska Recall Committee are pleased that recall votes will take place.

“We look forward to the issuance of the charter-mandated proclamation and the setting of a recall election date,” he also said. Holcombe identified “love for Pawhuska” as the “common thread” binding those who signed copies of the recall petition.

Public notice will be given of the election date and the ballot will contain four questions, asking voters whether to recall or not recall each of the four councilors whose tenure on the city council is affected.

If the voters decide to remove any of the four affected councilors, those seats will be filled by appointment until the next election, the city clerk’s statement on the sequence of events said. Qualifying for the next election would be in early December, the statement added.