Three board members of Lake Fork Health Service District have been targeted for recall by members of an informally organized local group known as CAC (Citizen Action Committee).
Petition paperwork seeking the recall of Health District Directors Janella Cox, Fred Stapleton and Carole Clauss was submitted to Hinsdale County Clerk Joan Roberts shortly after 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 11. A total of three petitions for recall were submitted, signed by Rick Hernandez, Ruthanna Hall, and A. Danielle Worthen, each request citing a specific cause for recall against Cox, Stapleton and Clauss.
County Clerk Roberts reviewed wording on each of the petitions and was expected to formally acknowledge receipt of the petitions in writing on Wednesday afternoon, July 12. Written acknowledgement that the recall petitions have been received will be mailed by the county clerk to the petitioners, Hernandez, Hall, and Worthen, as well as the three health service directors, Cox, Stapleton and Clauss.
With approval from the town clerk, recall proponents have 90 days to collect signatures of residents who are registered to vote within the health service district. According to Roberts, the minimum number of signatures on each of the three recall petitions is 269 individuals, representing 40 percent of 671 registered voters within the district.
State statute requires that a set time be allowed after the signed petitions are returned for certification, hearings and appeals, after which the date for a special recall election would be determined. Provided sufficient certified signatures are collected within the time constraints, the approximate timeline for an election would be roughly 140 days from Wednesday this week.
County Clerk Roberts is scrambling this week to check legal protocol for the requested recall election, the county clerk noting that it has literally been decades since a recall election was held in Hinsdale County.
The date of the last recall was August, 1992, when a majority of county voters approved the removal from office of both District 2 Hinsdale County Commissioner John Edward Toner and District 3 Commissioner Hubert Laird.
Petitions were filed in December, 1996, for the removal of four Town of Lake City Trustees — Mary Nettleton, Henry Woods, Bob Paulmenn, and Joan Roberts — citing dissatisfaction with town budgeting, although the effort ultimately failed when the required process was not followed.
Since its formation in November, 2002, directors of the five-member health service district board have been elected to alternating two and four-year terms. Elections were routinely held up until May, 2006, when four candidates ran for three open positions. Since that time, however, the number of announced candidates equaled the number of board vacancies, and candidates have been appointed to the board.
In the last health district board election in May, 2016, for instance, only two candidates announced for three vacancies and the third director vacancy wasn’t filled until June, 2016.
Board chairperson Janella Cox has served as a health service district director on two occasions, the first following appointment to the board in 2006 and continuing to about 2009, and the second term when she was appointed in September, 2015. In the district’s May, 2016, election, she was once again appointed with her four-year term scheduled to expire in May, 2020.
Fred Stapleton was named to a four-year term in 2014, taking the place of resigned board member Steve Robinson. Like Robinson, Stapleton has filled the role of health district treasurer on the board of directors.
Carole Clauss is the newest member of the Lake Fork Health Service District board of directors, her tenure on the board dating back to December last year when she was appointed to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Jamie Turrentine. Clauss, who serves as secretary, is up for election in May, 2018.
Unlike Cox, Stapleton and Clauss, the two remaining health district directors not targeted for recall are Jerry Johnson and Shawna Shidler.