Recall Efforts Underway in West Plains
Wed, 11/18/2020 - 12:34pm admin
Group Seeks to Recall Mayor Pahlmann and Councilmembers Cotter and Nease
Publisher’s Note: The participants in this meeting gathered in a public place, and they made no effort to hide their identities from me or from each other. However, pending the appointment a spokesperson or form a Petition Committee, the participants have requested their identities to be concealed in this article.
On November 13, a group of twelve West Plains residents and business owners gathered at a local restaurant for a planning meeting. Their goal is to recall the elected figures who voted in favor of the masking ordinance in place in West Plains.
Howell County News was invited to the meeting for an exclusive view into the beginning of a formal recall movement.
According to the Home Rule Charter of the City of West Plains, the procedure to recall an elected official begins with a formal request for the official’s resignation. The founder of the group emailed Mayor Jack Pahlmann, Councilman Josh Cotter, and Councilwoman Jessica Nease on November 9 to ask each of them to resign.
On November 10, Mayor Pahlmann refused to resign. The group’s leader, a resident and registered voter, produced a screenshot of an email reply from the mayor that read, “I don’t feel like doing that at the moment…”
As of the date of the meeting, neither Cotter nor Nease had responded.
The proverbial clock on the recall efforts began with the formal request for resignation. From that date, a resident has only 14 days to initiate a petition for recall. If the elected official fails to respond entirely, a petition must be initiated within 60 days.
At this point, the recall group has requested a list of registered voters in the last municipal election from the City Clerk. The recall petition must receive the signatures of 10% of these voters.
To gather the signatures, a Petition Committee of five West Plains residents must be formed. If the effort to collect signatures is successful, the City Council must set a date for a recall vote during the next upcoming municipal election.
According to the Charter, “an official may be recalled only for reasons of misconduct in office, incompetence or failure to perform duties prescribed by law.” The group that met on Friday is seeking to recall Pahlmann, Nease, and Cotter on the grounds of incompetence.
“I couldn’t care less about a mask ordinance. It’s the principle of usurping the power from the people,” said one member Friday night.
Mask ordinances have been widely and vocally opposed by West Plains residents both times they have been introduced by the City Council this year.
“It’s not about masks. It’s about them weaponizing the virus to take control of the city,” commented another member.
“I’m very disappointed in the mayor [in particular] for taking a position in direct opposition to the will of the people,” explained another.
For now, the recall group is using the Facebook profile, “WP Recall” to communicate updates about their efforts. The page is “friends” with 307 people at press time. When and if they form a Petition Committee, the identities of those five residents will be a matter of public record.
Howell County News reached out to Mayor Pahlmann and Councilmembers Cotter and Nease. As of press time, they had not responded.
This is a developing story. Watch future editions for updates on the recall effort.
by Amanda Mendez, publisher