The prospect of a recall election was briefly discussed, with former Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard noting the effort would be an uphill battle.
“It’s very tough,” Pollard told the group as he described the recall process.
Pollard said a successful recall campaign would require financial support to procure an attorney. Also needed would be a volunteer effort to gather the 50,000-some signatures to put such a vote on the ballot.
Further, the group would need to establish a cause for a recall, a task Pollard said would be difficult.
“There is a very high legal bar,” Pollard said. “And it’s going to be a challenge.”
But a second option was offered up by former Democratic county commissioner Craig Pridemore.
A home-rule process, Pridemore said, wouldn’t reshuffle the deck on the board of commissioners, but it might change the structure of government in a way that could keep commissioners from consolidating power.
“(With a home-rule charter) you can structure county government the way you want it to be structured,” Pridemore said.
Pridemore said two options he sees that could reduce commissioners’ influence are to increase the number of seats on the board of commissioners and to replace the role of county administrator with that of an elected county executive.
Both could be accomplished if a home-rule election goes to the public, and a board of elected “freeholders” chooses those options in a home-rule charter.
Pridemore said one option to start the home-rule process is for citizens to petition the county.
But the other option is for commissioners to vote to send the home-rule process to the people. And from recent talk among the three commissioners, that might happen.
o If the case is upheld, the third stage is the petition process, Blinn said. To put a recall measure on the ballot, petitioners would have to collect 25 percent of the total number of votes cast in the last election for that office. For Madore, that would be 39,549 signatures, and for Mielke, 44,053. Pridemore said Saturday the number is closer to 50,000 as they need a signature buffer to assure a successful petition.
o The final step is the recall election, which must take place at least 45 days, but no more than 60 days, after the petition is found to be sufficient, Blinn said. A law taking effect in July will extend that period to 90 days.
If a majority of voters cast ballots to recall one county commissioner, the vacancy would be filled by the remaining two from a list of candidates prepared by the ousted official’s political party.
If two commissioners were removed from office, the governor would appoint one replacement, and the new commissioner, along with the still-sitting commissioner, would appoint a third.
Any replacement would have to run in the next election to retain the office.
Staff writer Erin Middlewood contributed to this story.