Recall the Recall

It has been a rocky 90 days in Gilliam County. The Gilliam County Court's decision to transfer juvenile and probate court on December 6th, its discussions of changing to a board of commissioners, and efforts to get a legislative fix on the probate issue in Salem created division and anger in the county.

There was a resounding demand to bring such issues to the voters. There were accusations that the methods employed were underhanded.

Much of this anger revolved around timing. That the court would propose such drastic changes to county government in an election year only fueled resentment. Many believed that such proposed changes should be deliberated and ultimately should wait for a future court to decide, with voters giving final approval.

As the weeks went by, animosity grew.

As a result, recall petitions were filed against Judge Elizabeth Farrar Campbell and Commissioner Pat Shannon. The petitioners allege that Judge Farrar Campbell and Commissioner Shannon created a county crisis and engaged in election interference by attempting to eliminate the judge position after candidates had filed for the 2024 election. There are also allegations that elected officials and county staff are treated poorly.

But is a recall the solution?

Judge Farrar Campbell is not running for reelection. Commissioner Shannon is running and will likely have a very tight race in front of him. Also, Commissioner Leah Watkins was a central part of these decisions, but was for some reason not included in the recall effort.

Now that the probate jurisdiction order has been rescinded and is in the rearview mirror, and there is no effort to change the county's governmental structure, the recall should be pulled, and the county should come together in preparing to elect its next judge and its future county court.

By not backing down, the recall campaign will bring additional chaos to the county. There is no clear and present danger – no ongoing calamity, no financial crimes or gross malfeasance, and no urgent risk posed by this court. A recall should be the very last resort and done in the face of an existential threat. The truth is that as now, such a threat simply doesn't exist.

We are less than two months away from primary elections. Should the recall petitioners get enough signatures, the recall could coincide with the primary election. Is that not, to some degree, chaos?

Instead of voting to recall sitting elected officials, we should be concentrating on who to elect in the near future.

For those who are angry with Pat Shannon, you can vote for someone else and convince others to do the same. For those who are angry with Judge Farrar Campbell, join a campaign to elect her successor. Take a positive approach to change.

Right now, signature sheets are being distributed and 150 signatures are required to have a special recall election for both Judge Farrar Campbell and Commissioner Shannon.

I urge you to think twice before signing your name. Having an interim judge and commissioner appointed by Gov. Kotek is in nobody's best interest. Change is already on the horizon; there is no need to make a bad situation worse.

Denny Newell, who is the chief petitioner for the recall against Judge Farrar Campbell, often uses the phrase "It's never too late to do the right thing." These are wise words. It is not too late to do the right thing and to scrap this recall campaign.


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