Drive to recall WBCSB chairwoman falls short

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PRIEST RIVER — A recall petition seeking to remove West Bonner County School Board chairwoman Sandra Brower from office has came to a halt.

For the petition to go to a vote, recall organizers needed 162 signatures — or half of the 324 eligible voters in Brower’s school board zone — by Jan. 26. However, only 139 of the 180 signatures turned in were deemed to be eligible, according to Bonner County Clerk Mike Rosedale.

Rosedale said 14 signatures were from individuals living outside Brower’s Zone 4 and 11 were duplicate signatures.

The recall petition was filed by Citizens for Families, which was approved by former county Clerk Ann Dutson-Sater on Nov. 10, 2014. The group had 75 days to collect the needed signatures.

The group’s spokesperson Judith Black said the group was waiting to hear official results from the county. Because most members were unaware of the outcome, Black said she did not want to comment on possible future plans until they have an opportunity to meet.

Black said the group was not formed for this specific cause but takes on things to help school and community that are out of order and don’t seem right.

The group has to wait 90 days to re-file if they choose and start the procedure over, Rosedale said.

In the petition, organizer claimed Brower inappropriately approved pay raises for district teachers and staff, failing her fiduciary responsibilities. They also claimed meetings with district personnel over the recent levy amounted to electioneering, that a March 2013 arrest for drunken driving makes her a poor role model for students, and that she appointed a family member to replace the board trustee in Zone 1.

They also questioned why the district’s superintendent was not censured when the Priest River Elementary boiler was left unattended over winter break. That caused damage that taxpayers were forced to pick up the tab for.

Brower, who was elected to the WBCSB in May 2013, has lived in Priest River for 18 years. She said she was elected to help people and wants to work with all community members, including  Citizens for Families.

“I can address many of these concerns on the petition and explain most of them,” she said of the recall petition. “I was really taken back because I haven’t heard any of this before or even been asked except for the ‘appointing a family member’ point.

Brower said pay increases are not her sole responsibility, instead it is a decision made by the entire five-member school board. She also added there is not and has never been negotiation from the union on behalf of the employees.

Brower said she could not comment on issues involving the superintendent or the boiler, saying it was a personnel matter that could only be discussed in executive session.

As for the DUI charge, she said the incident took place several months before the election and four months before she was sworn in as a school board trustee. Since it was a misdemeanor charge, Brower said it did not need to be disclosed.

“I made a mistake and I learned from it,” she said. “I think that is being a good role model to youth because everyone makes mistakes and it’s how you handle it and move on and can learn from it that makes the difference.”

As for appointing a family member, Molly Bach volunteered to be on the board when a trustee left.

“All five board members had to approve her,” Brower said. “Molly and I were never in the same family because both our husbands died. Shame on these people for bringing that up.”

Brower called the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office last week to report the false statements on the petition after obtaining a copy and hearing from voters in Zone 4. The case is still under investigation.

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