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Cottage Grove city council recall petition falls short

The front of the Cottage Grove city hall.
Chris Lehman
Cottage Grove's city hall, as seen on April 5, 2023.

A petition to recall a Cottage Grove city council member has fallen short of the required number of valid signatures to make it on the ballot.

Mike Borke, the chief petitioner, hoped to recall three Cottage Grove city council members: Chalice Savage, Jon Stinnett and Mike Fleck. Only Fleck’s petition made it to the county signature verification stage.

The Lane County elections office was only able to verify that 463 signatures were from eligible registered voters. Petitioners needed at least 654 - equal to 15% of the total number of city votes cast in the last gubernatorial election.

Borke said he plans to use the lessons he’s learned to put initiatives on the ballot instead. He says that may be a better way to address his concerns about public safety and homelessness.

“They're all good people,” he said. “It's just that some have their hearts placed on other things than the actual residents of cottage grove.”

He said specifically, he disagreed with how the city council’s approached homelessness. He said their current approach has led to many people experiencing homelessness trespassing onto private property.

He said the initiatives would ban open drug use, camping during the daytime, and require city council members to run in wards, instead of city-wide. He is also working on an initiative that would require an election after a city council seat becomes vacant, instead of the remaining city council members deciding how to fill the vacancy.

In a column published in The Chronicle newspaper in September, Fleck said the city’s approach was designed to abide by recent court ruling and offer people a place to go instead of camping in public parks, and on sidewalks. He also said the petition was not an appropriate use of the recall process, which should be reserved for when an elected official does something wrong.

Rebecca Hansen-White joined the KLCC News Department in November, 2023. Her journalism career has included stops at Spokane Public Radio, The Spokesman-Review, and The Columbia Basin Herald.
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