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Effort to recall Eagle’s mayor & council members fails to gather enough signatures

An effort to recall the entire leadership of the City of Eagle failed at the tail end of 2022. 

Organizers attempting to remove Eagle Mayor Jason Pierce and city council members Brad Pike, Charlie Baun, Helen Russell and Melissa Gindlesperger did not collect the roughly 4,300 signatures required by December 27. Knowing the group did not reach their goal, Eagle Citizens for Open Government leader Jane Rohling said they opted not to waste taxpayer resources by turning them in to be validated by Ada County staff. 

She said the group is not releasing the number of signatures it obtained, but she said the reason the group did not reach the goal was more about their lack of planning heading into the 75-day signature gathering period, the timing with the holiday season and winter weather that made it hard to connect with voters than lack of displeasure in city leadership. 

“My take was that there are a lot of people who are very very unhappy with this mayor and the city council,” Rohling told BoiseDev. “There are a lot of Republicans and probably independents that talk to us and signed petitions. We never asked anybody what their political affiliation was, but often it did come up in conversations because we had good conversations with a number of these people.”

A statement on the failure of the recall from Eagle spokesperson Dana Biberston said Pierce and the rest of the city council are pleased to see the effort fail and said they are always open to hearing public input at meetings, events and around town. 

“Together as mayor and city council, we constantly weigh both the short-term and long-term effects of every choice brought to us for consideration,” the statement said. “At the forefront of every decision we make is this essential focus: We work for your benefit to ensure you have a safe place to live, work, and play. To accomplish this purpose, we thoroughly evaluate a tremendous amount of research and input from professionals and residents before making informed decisions to benefit 33,000 residents in Eagle.”

Avimor looms large for Eagle politicos in 2023 

This likely won’t be the end of political discontent in Eagle. 

In November, Pierce, Baun, and Pike are up for reelection, allowing voters to weigh in at the ballot box on the performance of city leadership. Council will decide on several major issues that gained traction with opponents in the coming months. Several issues are ahead, including hearings on whether the foothills planned community Avimor should be annexed into city limits and the possible approval for a gun range near Spring Valley.

Hearings on Avimor’s annexation are set to start at Eagle’s Planning & Zoning Commission on January 17. That decision could then go to the Eagle City Council for hearings and a vote later this year.

Rohling said the possible annexation of Avimor was the biggest issue petition signers had in conversations with recall organizers. The planned community’s annexation into Eagle has been a major issue in the Boise suburb for years, with opponents saying it will be costly for Eagle’s taxpayers to accommodate the far-flung planned community and supporters saying it will allow Eagle to have more control over inevitable growth. 

A city-sanctioned study on Avimor released to the public in 2021 estimated it would be a boon to the city in the short-term but be costly in the long term as the community concluded building. A study commissioned by Avimor said the project would keep Eagle revenue neutral instead of creating a multi-million deficit. Avimor also says if it is annexed into Eagle, its land will remain open for public use by Eagle residents. And if it isn’t, those lands will be closed.

Rohling said her group’s goal is to continue encouraging Eagle residents to get involved with Avimor and other city issues. She also said her group’s focus in the 2023 elections will be to find non-partisan candidates to run for the non-partisan positions instead of creating divisions along party lines. 

“One of the big things we want to look at in finding candidates for next year is to emphasize the need to follow the law in Idaho in terms of having local elections remain nonpartisan,” she said. 

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Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel is a BoiseDev reporter focused on the City of Boise, housing, homelessness and growth. Contact her at [email protected] or by phone at (757)705-8066.

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