A group calling itself Eagle Citizens for Open Government filed petitions last week with Ada County to recall Eagle Mayor Jason Pierce and all four members of the Eagle City Council.
This kicks off a 75-day signature-gathering process where the group will need to collect roughly 4,300 signatures from eligible voters in the City of Eagle. If the group gathers enough signatures, the question of whether or not the mayor and the entire city council will be removed will go to a vote. A spokesperson with the Ada County Clerk’s Office has not responded to a question about when the election would be held as of press time.
Jane Rohling, one of the organizers for Eagle Citizens for Open Government, said there were several reasons the group wanted to attempt a recall of the city’s leadership. She said her group is not affiliated with a single political party and is instead made up of Eagle residents across the political spectrum who feel like city leadership has not been listening to the public.
“Since Mayor Pierce and the rest of the council people were elected two and a half years ago… they’ve shown a complete disregard for public input on many issues and, in fact, they have a tendency to be rude to people at public hearings who don’t agree with them instead of being more professional and neutral,” Rohling told BoiseDev in an interview. “The other two council members are cut from the same cloth.”
An email to the city’s public information officer asking for a comment from Pierce has not been returned by the deadline for this story. Emails to City Council Members Brad Pike and Helen Russell were not returned by our deadline either. City Council members Charlie Baun and Melissa Gindlesperger told BoiseDev that as of late Tuesday they had just learned of the recall attempt. Neither commented further.
If enough signatures are gathered, the recall election could occur in March.
Growing list of complaints
The City of Eagle has come under criticism from some residents on a variety of issues since Pike was elected in early 2020.
Rohling said her group is not affiliated with SOS Eagle, an organization that has come out in opposition to Pierce and the growth of Avimor in recent years, but she directed BoiseDev to that group’s website to learn more about the reasons why her group wanted to attempt a recall.
The website’s homepage includes a link to a postcard the group says it sent to over 4,000 residents of Eagle, raising questions about Avimor and its application to be annexed into Eagle, plans for a shooting sports park near Spring Valley, and the city’s plans for a municipal broadband project funded with federal COVID-19 relief funds.
SOS Eagle also included the results of a survey the group conducted on whether or not Avimor should be annexed into city limits showing 91% of the roughly 1,550 respondents said no. The site says Pierce dismissed the idea of surveying residents about annexing Avimor at a town hall meeting, which SOS Eagle alludes to being the inspiration for a survey of their own on the issue.
Rohling said donations from Avimor to Pierce, and the rest of the city council raise red flags for many residents of the city who say they don’t think the issue is being considered fairly or objectively by city leaders. A city-sponsored fiscal analysis of annexation found the project would be a boon to the city in the short-term, but leave a deficit in the outer years as Avimor builds out, BoiseDev reported last year.
“We suspect they will totally ignore that 91% of those respondents and annex Avimor anyway because Avimor bought their seats in the City of Eagle,” Rohling said.
The sale of Eagle Water Company to Veolia, formerly known as Suez, also rankles some Eagle residents. Rohling, a founding member of the Eagle Water Company Customers Group, said she and others were infuriated when Pierce announced the City of Eagle settled its lawsuit and allowed Veolia to purchase the company. Pierce has not said much publicly about the reason he changed his mind from his campaign position of wanting to fight for the city’s right to buy the company in court, other than that it would serve Eagle’s “long-term interests.”