Our view: A $15,000 waste

Just more than a week ago, Kentites voted to keep all five members of city council who were up for recall. It was the end of a long road that should have never been traveled in the first place – one that could cost the city about $15,000.

Kent citizens first circulated petitions in September to recall the council members who voted to place a .5 percent income tax reduction for Kent residents working outside the city. Council later amended their decision, but the petitions received enough signatures to hold a special election.

Luckily, Kent residents – the 10.5 percent who turned out – made the right choice by not recalling the council members. The $15,000 used to pay for the election could undoubtedly been better used elsewhere in the city. Just take a look around.

If there’s one thing we should learn from this whole debacle, it’s that elected officials should feel free to make difficult decisions without the fear of political retribution in the midst of their terms.

Politicians make difficult decisions every day. It’s what we pay them to do. They – we hope so at least – have a better understanding of the needs of our city, state or even country.

Barack Obama was sworn into our nation’s highest office yesterday because America believes he is the right person to make these decisions. President Obama will likely make decisions we disagree with. If so, we shouldn’t call for his immediate removal from office. We should open a dialogue with these elected officials and express our disagreements. If officials aren’t listening, write letters to newspapers or call and visit their offices.

Recall elections or impeachment proceedings should be left as a last result. They should be used only when elected officials commit a crime or an extreme ethical breach against the citizens or the office as a whole.

Some Kent residents stood up against the recall effort. “Citizens for a Better Kent” organized volunteers in November to educate city residents about the recall. The group’s treasurer, Renee Ruchotzke, was right when she said, “(The council members) deserve to serve as elected without interference.”

The city should look closely at its charter and determine whether the current recall policy is really in the best interest of the city. Officials should definitely be held accountable for their actions while in office. The recall policy should not, however, be so simple that it could put the entire city’s governing on hold.

Now, let’s put this mess behind us and get to work to make this a better city for us all to live, work and learn in.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.