Pawhuska needs strong voter turnout
Pawhuska has an election next Tuesday to determine if four members of the City Council will remain in office or be removed, and the Journal-Capital encourages city residents who are validly registered to vote to participate in that election if at all possible.
The newspaper is not taking an official position regarding how you should vote. Rather, it is taking the position that a large turnout is desirable for the outcome of the election to be regarded as legitimate and representative of the will of the citizenry.
The election will be held from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. next Tuesday. The polling places will be the Presbyterian Disciples Church, located at 101 E. 12th St., and the Calvary Baptist Church, at 620 E. 15th St.
Voters who wish to cast early ballots can do so this Thursday and Friday, Oct. 3 and 4, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Osage County Election Board office, at 630 Kihekah Avenue.
This election is unique in that it creates the possibility that four members of the five-member council could be removed from office at one time. All Pawhuska registered voters who participate will be asked to choose whether to remove from office, or retain in office John Brazee, Mark Buchanan, Rodger Milleson and Roger Taylor. To clarify, every participating voter will have the opportunity to vote on all four of the affected councilmen.
A “yes” vote will signify that a voter wishes to remove a councilor, while a “no” vote will signify that the voter wishes to retain the councilor in office. Remember, “yes” is to remove and “no” is to not remove.
This recall process differs from legal processes for the “impeachment” of public officials in that none of the councilors who will be on the ballot has been accused of any violations of law. This election is about the best judgment of voters as to whether councilors Taylor, Milleson, Buchanan and Brazee are acting effectively in the public interest.
The election was made necessary through a process that required at least 25 % of the number of voters who participated in the most recent Pawhuska general election to sign petitions. Based on the number of Pawhuskans who cast ballots in the April 2 general election for Ward 2 city councilor — 432 people — the threshold for calling the election was 108 valid signatures. Voter-education literature distributed in support of the recall of the four councilors estimated the number of valid signatures that were gathered at “about 130 valid signatures.”
Pawhuska is a city of nearly 3,500 people and 130 people is a low threshold number for something as significant as an election to potentially recall (remove) four out of five members of the City Council. That is why the Journal-Capital, out of an abundance of concern about the democratic process being representative, strongly recommends that every registered voter in Pawhuska who can possibly cast a ballot next Tuesday should do so.
Whatever the decision or decisions may be, the results of the election need to be seen to clearly, without any doubt, reflect the intent of the people.
There are several possible ways that you might vote. You might want to remove all four councilors because you are dissatisfied with their performance in office. Or, you might think all four are doing reasonably well in office and should be retained. Or, you might favor removing some of the four councilors, but not others. Or, you might favor removing some or all of the four councilors but you might disapprove of the recall process that has been employed. Or, you might approve of the incumbent councilors and disapprove of the recall process.
We have no interest in telling you what you should think. What we would like to encourage all Pawhuska voters to do is to use their good common sense to make rational determinations about the questions that will be on the ballot next Tuesday.
Ultimately, democratic self-government is based on the ability of individual voters to rationally evaluate arguments that are presented to them regarding political questions. You have to decide what you think of the four councilors, and you have to decide if a special, recall election is the right way to address any problems in this instance.
You also have to evaluate for yourselves the strength of the arguments put forward in support of the proposition that the four councilors should be removed, as well as the arguments put forward in opposition to their removal, and the motives of any and all persons making arguments either for or against removal.
We urge you to think about these matters for yourselves and then vote. Everyone who can legally do so should vote.