The recall effort against Councilmember Rob Binney was certified as valid by Lee’s Summit city staff March 11 and forms sent to the committee seeking his removal so they can begin collecting signatures.
The Jackson County Board of Election Commissioners verified that five petitioners who submitted an affidavit to begin the recall were eligible to start the recall, said Trisha Fowler, deputy city clerk. They are: Amber Hodgson, Miranda Finnerty, Julie Kirkpatrick, Wesley Riggs and Patrick Powers.
The group will have 60 days to collect 266 signatures from registered voters in the district. Following that, the clerk’s office has 30 days to certify the petitions are sufficient to force a recall election. If the petitioners can meet the deadlines the recall election would be expected in August.
Binney, a representative for District 1, said there seems to be a lot of support of the job he’s been doing overall.
“It’s been great, truly and outpouring of support from the First District, even in Raintree,” Binney said.“It’s been overwhelming.”
He said he’d wait to see if enough signatures are collected put his recall on the ballot before planning any campaign. Binney said he tried to consider everyone’s best interest in consideration and make the best decisions for the community.
The recall was started by opponents of a Wal-Mart Supercenter in south Lee’s Summit, part of his district, who contend Binney should have voted against the project. Julie Kirkpatrick is the wife of one of the leaders of Citizens for Responsible Development which fought rezoning to allow the store.
The recall effort isn’t the first against a councilman in Lee’s Summit, however. The first recall effort in was mounted against Councilmember Kathy Hofmann in 2007. Hofmann is the other District 1 council member but voted against Wal-Mart.
“I’m really surprised by it (the recall),” she said.
She said she planned to support Binney and help him any way she can. But philosophically she supports providing residents an avenue to recall if they don’t like a vote.
“Everyone has the right to do the recall if they don’t agree with the opinion of their council member,” she said.
Councilmember Ed Cockrell, who worked with Hofmann to beat her recall, said he doesn’t believe in single-issue recall petitions.
“It’s not what our system is about,” Cockrell said.
He said council members have a responsibility to act on the best information they have, not only public opinion, based on also expert testimony and city ordinances.
“We typically have better understanding of how the parts fit together,” Cockrell said.
He said that the petitioners’ contention that Binney voted contrary to the majority of what residents wanted is not provable and not relevant. The testimony by experts was that Wal-Mart met the city’s requirements by ordinance.
“We’re just supposed to ignore that? No businesses would come to Lee’s Summit, on that basis.” Cockrell said. “They expect us to hold up the rules.”
He noted that even if Binney had voted against rezoning to allow the Supercenter, it would have passed.
Hofmann’s recall was launched by a Lee’s Summit developer Jeff Ranville after she successfully asked the City Council for an “administrative delay” on downtown residential development. The council agreed to temporarily stop new construction there.
She said she had objected to the practice of splitting large downtown-area lots and building new houses because it was putting additional load on sewer and rain-water disposal.
Hofmann was successful in rallying supporters in what was essentially a second campaign for office.
She said she had many supporters but had to educate them that a “yes” vote on the recall ballot would be a “no” vote against her.
Hofmann said residents should carefully read the petition, because during her recall many people were deceived about what they were signing. The City Charter was since amended to require that the reason for the recall be printed across the top and bottom of the signature forms.
Her battle included a lawsuit in court trying to prevent the recall election due to forged signatures, which failed. Criminal charges were filed over those forgeries which resulted in a guilty plea for one of the circulators. But in the end, Hofmann had to campaign to keep her seat.
“It is not a fun thing to do,” Hofmann said. “You have to go out and work the streets again in the entire district.”