Voters to decide council recall questions Oct. 8

Robert Smith

Pawhuska voters will decide Tuesday, Oct. 8, whether to recall any or all of four City Council members. The election will consist of voting either “yes,” to recall councilors, or “no” to leave them in office.

All properly registered voters in the city will have the opportunity to vote on each of four councilors. Voters are not limited to voting on the councilor in whose ward they live. They are allowed to vote on all four.

The councilors who are subject to the recall are Roger Taylor, Rodger Milleson, Mark Buchanan and John Brazee. Ward 2 Councilor Jourdan Foran is not subject to the recall because she had been on the council too short a time.

With the election date less than two weeks away, “yes” and “no” signs are appearing in yards, and Steve Holcombe of the Pawhuska Recall Committee said last Thursday he was mailing out 1,000 copies of a document making the argument in favor of voting out the four councilors, as well as providing a sample ballot.

Holcombe’s mailer argues that members of the Pawhuska City Council have demonstrated a lack of vision and planning. The document argues that councilors have failed to plan for economic development, failed to develop a plan for addressing infrastructure problems such as “pothole ridden streets,” failed to capitalize on an opportunity to improve communication and coordination between city government and the Osage Nation, and failed to honor the concerns of Pawhuska citizens by not providing for a public comments section of the council’s monthly meetings.

“There are no public comments. They got rid of that in 2015,” the document says. “It makes for shorter meetings at the expense of your input.”

Not everyone in Pawhuska shares the point of view championed by Holcombe and the Recall Committee, however.

Kristian Garrett said Councilor Brazee is the first city official who ever did anything about the problem she was having with sewage backing up into her home.

“My house is the house that always floods from the city sewer backup,” Garrett said. Some three years ago, the sewer system backed up in her home to the tune of three inches of waste and about $50,000 worth of damage, and no one from the city ever did anything about it, she said.

Garrett said she called Brazee on a Sunday when she had another problem — Brazee has been on the council about a year and a half — and Brazee got the city manager to come out and have a look.

“John has helped me tremendously with pushing the issue of the sewer backup,” Garrett said, adding that she doesn’t live in his ward but he helped. “He is the only council member that has ever reached out to me.”

Garrett said she thinks the recall campaign is “absurd.”

“I don’t understand what the witch hunt is all about,” she said.

For more information about the election, and about voting, see the Around The County section of this edition of the Journal-Capital.