Idaho Dispatch

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Update on Boise and Mountain Home Recalls

By • August 31, 2020

Recently, the recall of Governor Brad Little failed to gather the necessary signatures to put his name on the ballot.

However, he was not the only elected official who was under an official recall effort. Mountain Home Mayor Rich Sykes, Boise Mayor Lauren McLean, and Boise City Councilmember Lisa Sanchez are also facing official recalls.

We did want to note that one other recall that was rumored weeks ago to be in the process of being filed was Lewiston City Councilmember Bob Blakey. However, that recall never officially got underway and there are not more recalls that have been filed to our knowledge.

Here is an update on the recall efforts officially underway and where they currently stand.

In Boise, Mayor McLean and City Councilmember Sanchez are both facing recalls from the same group of citizens.

The group has until September 30 and October 4th to turn in the required signatures for McLean and Sanchez respectively. They need approximately 26,000 valid signatures to put McLean and Sanchez on the ballot.

We asked Lynn Bradescu about how the recall effort is going and this is what she told Idaho Dispatch,

We are hitting it hard and we have over 150 volunteers and more every day. They are very laser-focused on the goal.

Mayor McLean talked about the recall effort briefly at a City Club of Boise event back in July.

Here is what she is quoted as saying,

I’m not going to be distracted by something that’s designed to divide or distract at a time now when it requires me to lead in a way that we didn’t envision, to address the crisis brought on by a pandemic and the economic fallout because of it.

The recall effort against Mountain Home Mayor Rich Sykes has been going for some time now. In fact, the recall effort will officially end today.

We will have a new article on the results of that recall effort when it begins.

We asked Rich Shields, one of the recall effort leaders, about the recall and how it was going.

Here was his response to Idaho Dispatch back on August 11th,

The recall effort has traction but success will come only with citizens of the community stepping forward. We need 500 signatures. Business owners are fearful of retaliation by city hall for signing. Time is NOW to stand up together against tyranny and injustices in Mtn. Home. One Team One Fight. Recall Mayor Sykes.

We spoke with one other person, who wished not to be named, that also said many citizens are afraid to sign the recall for fear of retaliation from Mayor Sykes. To date, no evidence has been given that he has threatened retaliation against signers of the recall.

Mayor Sykes released a statement back in July when the recall officially launched and here is that statement in full:

Citizens of Mountain Home,
I’m writing today to address some of the falsehoods contained in the recent recall petition filed at City Hall June 16, 2020.
The first allegation is that I “misappropriated funds to build a private gym under the disguise of a training range for law enforcement…”. The request for the training facility came directly from our first responders as a way to help them maintain physical fitness, relieve stress, and improve morale. The funding source for the construction of this facility was created with development funds collected from building developers for both the Fire and Police Departments specifically to improve their infrastructure assets. The funding source was not created with taxpayer dollars.

The primary purpose and scope of the facility was briefed to, and voted on, by our elected City Council members and construction started in April 2018. We initially looked at building the facility on Mountain Home Police Department property but discovered that preparing the ground would have been cost prohibitive due to the need to blast rock prior to laying the foundation. I then consulted with the Mountain Home Fire Department Chief, who agreed that he had space on his lot and recognized the facility’s benefits for our paid-on-call firefighters. During construction, the Council and I also realized that other City employees could benefit from the facility and we decided as a group to offer access to all employees as an additional benefit.

We completed construction of the training facility in May 2020 and required all City employees who stated a desire to use the facility to participate in safety training prior to being issued a key to the facility. Exercise is one of the best ways to improve personal health, reduce stress, and maximize job performance. In the long run, fewer insurance claims ultimately may lead to lower insurance premium costs to the City. This facility directly affects the mental and physical health of our first responders and all City employees who take advantage of its availability in a positive way, and I am proud that we were able to provide that for them. But make no mistake, we did so by the book and with the consent of the council.

I support those decisions and offered this agreement as a means of reinforcing the need for unity of effort and voice within the department. The agreement was drafted by the City’s Human Resources Attorney, not by me, but it does reflect my own steadfast support for Chief Moore’s experience and leadership as he continues to develop and adapt our firefighting force for the future of our community. Contrary to popular belief, our firefighters are no longer volunteers; they are paid-on-call employees of the City, subject to City polices, and should be held to a reasonable standard of conduct, one which some were falling well short of. The reason every member of the department was required to sign was simply to show that the department was unified and it would have seemed unfair to require only those in violation of the most basic employee/supervisor etiquette to sign while the vast majority of our firefighters, those who do their best every day to help Chief Moore guide the department and serve our community, were exempted. We simply needed to reiterate expectations for everyone across the board and show that the department was together as one unit. Despite these recent challenges, the department hasn’t missed a beat when it comes to serving our community. In Chief Moore’s own words, “I can assure you that at no time has the level of safety or service been compromised or diminished. We continue to respond with personnel who are committed, experienced and highly trained to provide the most professional level of service available.”

Finally, the petition says I violated the right of assembly during a live question and answer session on social media. While I may have gotten ahead of myself in fielding ideas for ways to ensure Mountain Home citizens did not become a list of COVID-19 statistics, I never ordered any citizen or business to do anything during this broadcast. I simply do not have that authority. As I stated during the broadcast, all of my ideas were just that – “ideas” – and would have needed to be filtered through the appropriate experts, including the City Council, legal counsel, the chief of police and Mountain Home Air Force Base leadership to name a few. I did my due diligence with each as promised, and ultimately determined that no additional restrictions were required. However, just as certain people want to hold me to account for my desire to do whatever it took to protect our citizenry from this virus, I can just about guarantee that those same individuals would be calling foul now if I had under-reacted and more citizens were hospitalized or worse.

In my time as Mayor I have heard and addressed the concerns of our citizens. I was elected on a platform promising to take concrete actions toward positive change. They told me it was time for new ideas, to bring more opportunities and amenities, to update and improve the way Mountain Home does business. I have taken that mandate to heart and taken action. I am proud of the work that we have done as a City thus far and look forward to continued progress in the coming years. I love this city too much to be bullied into silence by those who feign outrage to advance their own agenda.

I hope that when you are confronted by the individuals circulating this petition that you remember the false accusations that I have brought to your attention here. I hope you remember the context and background surrounding each of these false accusations. Finally, I hope you’ll let them know that your vote and your voice matter as much as the vocal minority who are working so diligently to distract from the truth to benefit their own political ends. I was just re-elected into office in November of 2019. The results were clear, and the citizens spoke at that time to vote me back in for another four-year term. I’m a firm believer in the public process. For this matter that process is clear. If the citizens no longer want me in this office, the right opportunity to express that sentiment occurs in November 2023.

Mayor Rich Sykes

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Tags: Boise, Idaho, Lauren McLean, Lisa Sanchez, Mountain Home, Recall, Rich Sykes

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