Laclede Water director drops recall challenge

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SANDPOINT — A Laclede Water District director who was voted out of office in a lopsided recall is withdrawing his challenge of the election’s legality, court records show.

First District Judge Lansing Haynes approved Harvey Hallenbeck’s notice of dismissal on Sept. 12, court records show.

In the Aug. 26 recall, 114 voters in favor of the recall and only 10 opposed it. Bonner County commissioners canvassed the vote on and certified the result as official on Sept. 3, county records indicate.

The district had 261 registered voters at the time of the recall and 124 of them cast ballots, resulting in a 48-percent turnout.

Counsel for Hallenbeck argued in the run-up to the recall that the initiative’s backers had not secured enough signatures to trigger the election.

The Bonner County Clerk’s Office ruled that recall organizers needed signatures from 20 percent of the district’s electorate because it had no record of an election being held within the last six years.

Hallenbeck’s attorney, H. Thomas Vanderford, countered that an election was conducted in 2010, which meant recall backers needed signatures from 50 percent of the district’s electorate.

Vanderford said the results of the 2010 election were turned over to the county in accordance with state law, but the county said it held no such records in its archives.

A fellow director asked for Hallenbeck’s resignation due to his hostility toward district watchdogs and even colleagues on the board. Hallenbeck was escorted from the board’s Aug. 13 meeting, but was later allowed to return.

Hallenbeck’s recall is the latest event in a tumultuous couple of years for the district. It’s governing board has been dogged by questions of fiscal mismanagement, nepotism and intransigence.

Hallenbeck is the third director to leave or be forced from office. One long-time director resigned last year while being threatened with recall and another resigned in July to resolve a misdemeanor corruption charge.

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