Robert Knight

“We’re sending the message: Don’t mess with our vote,” he said in a telephone interview. “This council was arrogant and overturned a legal vote on the domestic benefits ordinance. We don’t want tax dollars going to unmarried partners.”

Elsewhere around the country, recalls are being launched for a variety of reasons. In Oakridge, Oregon, a recall election was held on Sept. 20, with citizens voting to retain the mayor and three councilmen who had come under fire for not dismissing the town administrator over a financial crisis. The county paper, The Columbian, noted that the recall effort began even before it was revealed that “the town blew through $1.2 million in cash reserves over a two-year period,” and that the recall was “a way for people in the town to vent.”

In Michigan, Paul Scott, a black Republican Grand Blanc state legislator, has been targeted for recall by the Michigan Education Association. They want him out because he voted for cuts in education spending and reforms that make it easier to fire bad teachers. Scott said he plans to go door to door to keep his seat in the Nov. 8 election.

The irony of a liberal teachers' union targeting an African-American for recall because he is trying to restore fiscal sanity is a great teaching moment. So was this summer’s Wisconsin recall campaign, in which unions spent millions unseating only two of six Republican state senators and failing to put Democrats in power. This left intact Gov. Scott Walker’s fiscal reforms, which curtailed bargaining rights for public employee unions and ended state collections of union dues -- an essential component of union political power.

The recall effort cost liberals in Wisconsin big bucks with little to show for it, while giving the public a chance to reassert conservative values.

Elsewhere, recalls are happening mostly on the local level. In Miami-Dade County, Florida, citizens in March voted by a 9 to 1 margin to oust Mayor Carlos Alvarez over soaring property taxes and sweetheart increases in public employee union benefits.

Three school board members in Hitchcock County, Nebraska, will likely face recall elections on Nov. 8 over their role in a bond issue. In Oregon, four different cities are engaged in recall campaigns. In Omaha, Mayor Jim Suttle barely survived a recall vote in January. And so it goes all over the country.

Recall is a two-edged sword and should not be done lightly, but it is a vital tool for accountability. The process can unseat the unworthy but must also inspire the support of brave politicians who are on the receiving end of organized leftist recall efforts.

As El Paso’s Pastor Brown observed, “You have to have a legitimate reason for it. One of the worst things that a public official can do is throw out a vote of the people. If they do that, they’re asking for a recall.”

For more information on recalls, see the ACRU’s Web page.

Robert Knight

Robert Knight is an author, senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a frequent contributor to Townhall.