The rare recall: the recent history

West Bonner School District voters have ousted trustees Keith Rutledge and Susan Brown, and that’s an unusual event.

Recall elections are rarely successful at any level of Idaho government — including school boards.

How rare? For answers, we turn to the online political almanac Ballotpedia (and with a shoutout to Idaho political junkie Holly Cook, who used the platform formally known as Twitter to drop some knowledge from Ballotpedia).

The most recent successful trustee recall took place in November 2020. Whitepine voters ousted Aaron Proctor, one of three trustees who supported pandemic-driven policies requiring facemasks in classrooms and on buses.

From there, you have to go back to May 2016, when months of infighting spawned a successful recall in the state’s largest school district. West Ada voters recalled trustees Tina Dean and Carol Sayles. Fellow trustees Russ Joki and Julie Madsen resigned before the election.

In November 2015, Caldwell voters recalled trustees Leif Skyving and Amy Rojas.

But that’s it for the past decade.

Meanwhile, recall efforts in a dozen Idaho districts fizzled out over the past decade.

In some cases, a majority of voters simply decided to keep the trustee in office.

In other cases, a recall received majority support — but not enough votes to pass. Under state law, the number of votes supporting recall must exceed the number of votes an official received in the previous election.

Other recall elections fizzled when organizers failed to collect the signatures needed to get the question on the ballot. That includes a short-lived 2015 recall campaign in West Bonner.


Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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