City residents gather to oppose council recall

Kristen Kotz

About 25 people met at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent last night to discuss organzing their efforts against the recall of five of nine city council members. Citizens for a Better Kent is a political action committee funded by Kent citizen donations to advocate against the Jan. 13 special recall election.

“We believe the majority of Kent residents are against the recall,” founder Renee Ruchotzke said.

Kent City Council members Tracy Wallach and Heidi Shaffer, both among the five being recalled, attended the meeting.Wallach said she came to see if she could offer any advice or suggestions for the committee and said she found it encouraging that the group supports the council members in the recall.

“Hopefully the citizens of Kent will vote to keep the council members in their seats,” Wallach said.

At the meeting, group members said they plan to talk to as many friends and neighbors as possible and encourage them to vote to keep their council members in office.

“I plan to talk to as many people as possible,” Kent resident Allan Orashan said. “Throwing them out of office isn’t a good idea. Give them a chance to work.”

Orashan also said he believes the threshold of signatures needed for the recall is too low and thinks that the Kent City Charter should be changed.

“As I understand it they should change the city charter so that a higher percentage of signatures are needed for the recall,” he said.

Ward 6 resident Vivien Sandlund said she was participating in the Citizens for a Better Kent because she feels it’s important to support the council members and feels the election will be an unnecessary expense.

“It’s going to cost $20,000 to hold this election and there is no reason for it,” Sandlund said.

Sandlund also said she felt some residents were misled into signing the original recall petitions. Sandlund said when she originally signed the petitions, she was told the petitions were meant to pressure the council members into rescinding the income tax reciprocity.

She added that she was under the impression that when the council members rescinded the reciprocity, the petitions would not be filed. When she found out the petitions had been filed already, Sandlund said she sent an e-mail to City Clerk Linda Copley only to be told that her that her signature could not be removed because the petitions had already been filed at the Board of Elections.

“I hope people turn out in large numbers and vote yes to retain council,” Sandlund said.

Citizens for a Better Kent will meet again at 7 p.m. this Thursday to continue to its efforts against the recall.

Contact public affairs reporter Kristen Kotz at [email protected].