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Published: Tuesday, October 25, 2011, 12:01 a.m.

Recall petition targets Everett School Board member

A former Everett School Board candidate hopes to remove Jeff Russell, who was elected in 2009.

  • Jeff Russell

    Jeff Russell

  • Rodman Reynolds

    Rodman Reynolds

EVERETT -- A recall petition is taking aim at Everett School Board Director Jeff Russell, accusing him of trying to make improper decisions about what information gets into the official record of public meetings.
A former candidate for the school board filed the recall request Friday with the Snohomish County Auditor's Office. Rodman Reynolds said his reason for seeking the recall is that Russell shows "a blatant disregard for public sovereignty."
Specifically, Reynolds called attention to Russell's comments this month that board's minutes belong to the board as a whole, and shouldn't be treated as a "bulletin board of an individual board member."
"I heard him say that," Reynolds said. "I've had it, I want him out of there. If people don't agree, that's fine, they can continue to support him."
Russell said Monday he was unaware of a recall effort until he was contacted by a reporter. He called it yet another distraction from the board's mission to educate Everett and Mill Creek students.
"I thought my comments were fairly innocuous and were just what it is to place something into the minutes," Russell said. "To deem that to be grounds for a recall is ludicrous, in my mind."
The letter to the county auditor, who oversees election issues, is the first of many steps before a recall effort might make it onto the ballot. A Superior Court judge must decide that it meets state requirements for a recall. If the judge gives the OK, Reynolds could begin gathering signatures.
The effort against Russell comes amid ongoing turmoil on the Everett School Board centered around one of the board's five members, Jessica Olson, and her concerns about public transparency.
Her insistence on videotaping an executive session in August led to a scuffle with board president Ed Petersen and board member Kristie Dutton.
Russell said his comments from an Oct. 11 meeting --the ones cited in the recall letter-- were directed toward Olson's efforts to put documents into meeting minutes that he believed were unrelated to what actually took place at the meeting. He said it's a way for Olson to work around the board's majority to pursue her own agenda without needing another director's support.
Russell is the board's vice president. He was elected to his first term in 2009. He serves as pastor of Everett's Central Lutheran Church.
Russell questioned how seriously the recall letter should be taken in light of statements Reynolds made at a Sept. 13 School Board meeting. During public comments, Reynolds spoke up for Olson and compared the actions of other board members "with a wife beater or a pimp."
"But frankly, it's reasonable to expect pimpish behavior from a board that's being run like a bordello," Reynolds said.
Reynolds acknowledged making strong statements, but asked, "What does that have to do with (Russell) saying this public record doesn't belong to the public?
"He's throwing up a smokescreen there," he said. "I've definitely got my personality, but so what?"
Reynolds ran for a different spot on the Everett School Board this year, but came in last of six candidates in August's primary.
The most recent recall attempt in Snohomish County was launched after the Marysville School District's teacher's strike of 2003, against two members of district's school board. That effort was given the go-ahead by a state Supreme Court judge, but was dropped when the elected officials decided to not seek re-election.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@heraldnet.com.
Story tags » EverettEverett School District

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