Recall Effort to Remove City Councilors Fails to Submit Signatures

A recall effort to remove two Canby city councilors whose terms began in January has failed after petitioners did not submit the required number of signatures to the city recorder’s office before the Monday deadline.

Conservatives had targeted progressive councilors Sarah Spoon, who won her second term in the November election, and Chris Bangs, who is in his first, over claims of inappropriate and anti-religious comments made months before the recalls were filed.

The petitions were filed the same week a conservative councilor, Jordan Tibbals, announced he was resigning and moving out of state, shifting the balance of power on the council in favor of the progressive bloc for the first time in years.

The progressive majority later appointed newcomer David Bajorin to replace him.

The recalls had been initiated by Stephanie Boyce, owner of the Vitamin Plaza in downtown Canby and herself an unsuccessful candidate for Canby City Council in 2010.

Petitions were available for signing at Vitamin Plaza, but it’s not fully clear what other efforts, if any, were made to collect signatures. Repeated requests for information about signature gathering events or where residents could sign the petition — including as recently as last week — were ignored by Boyce.

Per election rules, petitioners needed to submit at least 1,151 verified signatures from Canby residents by 5 p.m. Nov. 29 to initiate a recall.

City Recorder Melissa Bisset told the Current Monday that Boyce did not say how many signatures they collected, but she did “let me know that she will not have enough signatures to turn in.”

Filings with the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office show no record of contributions, expenditures or any other activity since the committees to recall Bangs and Spoon were created by Boyce on August 30.

“I am not surprised it failed,” Bangs said in a later statement to the Current. “It is a difficult environment for recalling people, given that voters generally don’t appreciate getting second-guessed so close to the original election and also the high number of signatures required. I did not expect the issue to ever make it on the ballot.”

Bangs said he decided to run for council last year in an effort to “set aside political squabbling” and concentrate on nonpartisan issues that improve the community for all residents.

“With the recall deal behind us now, I’d like to see us move forward with improving the safety and looks of Ivy and 99E, fixing up the logging road bridge, fixing up the Community Park, getting food carts opened up in town and exploring the possibilities of putting a bridge over the old ‘Honda Pit’ so we can get our police onto both sides of 99 even while the train is stuck there for hours,” he said.

A letter claiming to be from Boyce was sent to a number of Canby residents urging them to sign the petitions and protect against “Canby Erosion,” which it defined as a “slow erosion of Canby Culture.”

It also linked to a article recounting a City Council meeting in which Bangs, according to the letter, “show(ed) contempt for people with religious convictions,” and two videos in which Spoon, while not operating in official capacity, allegedly exhibited inappropriate behavior.

The letter promised “Signature Collection Hot Spots near your neighborhood” but did not give details.

Petitioners were sighted at a brief signature-gathering event in the Canby Square parking lot near Safeway Saturday, November 20, accompanied by a large warning sign reading “CANBY EROSION RECALL SPOT” and another reading “CAUTION: Portland ‘Values’ Need to Stay in Portland.”

The site appeared to generate little traffic, according to one observer who watched it for about 30 minutes that Saturday, and wrapped up before 2 p.m.

Canby has not seen a successful recall effort of a sitting public official since 1993, when councilors Maureen Miltenberger and Joe Driggers were voted out of office for opposing an anti-gay-rights measure that had been passed by 56% of the city’s voters.

Miltenberger and Driggers had publicly stated they felt the measure was unconstitutional and unenforceable — and even signed onto a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union against the city — which some Canbyites saw as an act of betrayal.

Their stance was later vindicated when the Legislature passed a new law prohibiting such local ordinances from taking effect, but the debate in Canby boiled on and eventually resulted in the recall of both council members by narrow margins.

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