Organizers: Recall effort making headway

SANDPOINT — The recall effort of Lake Pend Oreille School Board chairman Steve Youngdahl is making headway, according to organizers.

According to Tom Bokowy, one of the Zone 5 parents spearheading the effort, the petition has received 95 out of a required 105 signatures since it launched earlier this month. That puts it well on track to make the Dec. 28 deadline. If those signatures are collected and filed with the county, Zone 5 voters will be asked to approve or deny Young-dahl’s recall in a special election set for March 11, Bokowy said.

“We’re having people calling us and emailing us asking how they can get involved,” he said.

The decision to mobilize a recall stems from the data Youngdahl used to propose a policy arming select district staff members. According to Bokowy and other recall supporters, the study Youngdahl cited was conducted by a politically-biased individual without consideration for proper academic rigor.

In response to the recall effort, Youngdahl said his data was supported by an unnamed Homeland Security associate. He said he is simply bringing an issue to the school board’s attention that residents have suggested in the past. The idea that he’s trying to force the proposal on the board is a mischaracterization based on the deliberate time frame established for discussion, he said.

“I am confident residents of Zone 5 will see I’m merely doing my job as chairman of the board,” he said.  

Opponents don’t see things that way, Bokowy said. They believe its representation as legitimate data to regional media outlets represented a breach of trust, and their faith in his leadership was shaken as a result.

“About half of the people who signed the petition said they voted for him,” Bokowy said.

On the other hand, Bokowy mentioned they’ve received plenty of other comments as well in the effort to collect signatures. It’s a solid representation of how contentious an issue the proposal is to the community.

At the most recent district board meeting, Youngdahl said he met with Bonner County Sheriff’s Office personnel for a program utilizing retired law enforcement and military. However, these proposals are simply under consideration at this point, and no decisions have been made.

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