After Durst controversy, West Bonner trustee recall efforts officially advance

PRIEST RIVER — After weeks of controversy over Branden Durst’s selection as superintendent, West Bonner patrons are calling for their school board chair and vice chair, Keith Rutledge and Susan Brown, to step down. 

More than enough signatures were collected to launch recall elections against both trustees, Bonner County Clerk Michael Rosedale confirmed Friday.

Board Chair Keith Rutledge (Photo: Max Oswald/Bonner County Daily Bee)
Board Vice Chair Susan Brown (Photo: Max Oswald/Bonner County Daily Bee)

Once Rutledge and Brown are notified of the recall election, they have five days to let Rosedale know if they plan to resign voluntarily.

If they do not step down, the trustees will face a recall election on Aug. 29. Rosedale said a recall effort has never been successful before in Bonner County.

Organizers gathered 337 signatures to recall Rutledge, surpassing the 243 valid signatures required. They gathered 243 signatures to recall Brown, and needed 180.

In order to succeed, a recall campaign must receive majority support — and the number of voters supporting the recall must surpass the number of voters supporting the officeholder in the previous election. For Rutledge, that threshold is 245 votes; for Brown, it’s 177.

The recall efforts come after weeks of discord between patrons and trustees over the selection of Durst — a former Democratic lawmaker and Republican state superintendent candidate, who is now an analyst for the Idaho Freedom Foundation — and over the district’s budget shortfalls.

Neither Durst nor the budget were mentioned in either recall petition. 

Read both in full below:

A copy of the petition to recall Board Vice Chair Susan Brown.
A copy of the petition to recall Board Chair Keith Rutledge.
Carly Flandro

Carly Flandro

Carly Flandro reports from her hometown of Pocatello. Prior to joining EdNews, she taught English at Century High and was a reporter for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. She has won state and regional journalism awards, and her work has appeared in newspapers throughout the West. Flandro has a bachelor’s degree in print journalism and Spanish from the University of Montana, and a master’s degree in English from Idaho State University. You can email her at [email protected] or call or text her at (208) 317-4287.

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