VIRGINIA CITY -- Despite complaints by Canyon General Improvement District board members they were not properly notified, a recall effort against them is still on.
Notice of intention to recall was filed Sept. 25, but Improvement District board members were not formally notified until three weeks later, on Oct. 15. Nevada Administrative Code requires those being recalled receive official notification within two days.
Alice Herbolsheimer, attorney for Improvement District board members Patrick Shannon, Marvin Clark, David Cockerton and Robert Schnaufer, argued in district court Thursday the integrity of this process depends on strict compliance with the law.
"These members were duly elected. They met all requirements and they can't be randomly and arbitrarily removed," she said. "The intent of the process is to give both sides an equal opportunity, but in this case my clients didn't have that. There have been violations of these rules and this petition should be set aside because it is legally insufficient."
District Court Judge Michael Griffin dismissed the complaint against Storey County Clerk Doreen Bacus, saying she didn't intentionally subvert the process.
Arguing that these recall rights should be liberally construed, he said those submitting a recall petition must follow a certain procedure to ensure the integrity of the process and petitioners Richard McNaughton, Charles Bay and Angela Watt abided by that process.
"In the absence of this objection, what was the consequence of this process?" he said. "There's no indication that any of these people who signed the petition were not residents or voters, or that the petition was misleading. The people that collected these signatures didn't do anything illegal. The error was inadvertent and there was no legal harm as a result. I support the citizens for recall and leave the decision to the voters, to do what they want about it."
Rainbow Bend resident Louise Pena said she was excited and encouraged by the decision.
"We complied with the law and now the voters have the right to choose," she said. "The law prevailed and now it's up to the voters to step up to the plate."
"The laws favor the democratic process and if there's a recall petition you can't nitpick," said attorney Harold Swafford, who represented Watt. "In most cases, there are going to be flaws. But as the judge correctly ruled, no one was prejudiced by that."
All four petitions contained more than the required number of valid signatures and were verified by Secretary of State Dean Heller in late November, clearing the way for the recall.
If successfully recalled, the board members would be replaced by appointments made by Store County commissioners. The replacements would remain board members until the next general election in November 2002. According to Storey County Deputy Clerk Treasurer Sarah Jensen, the recall vote may be held Jan. 9.