A recall petition was given to District 2 Supervisor Lori Cowan at Tuesday’s regular meeting.
Cowan knew of the effort but was given notice at the last Board of Supervisors meeting by county resident Linda Sutter.
“I am giving notice of intent to circulate recall petition for Lori Cowen, supervisor...” she said during public comment.
Sutter tried to give it to Cowan personally, but was instructed to give it to the County Clerk.
Cowan says the petition asking for her recall contains incorrect information.
The petition claims that Cowan voted to spend county funds on proposals that would benefit her.
“In one of her very first votes as a county Supervisor, she nominated herself to go to Japan at County expense,” it reads.
The allegation refers to an agendized consent calendar item on the Jan. 24 agenda to “approve and authorize the use of county travel funds for Supervisor Cowan to accompany a contingency of county, city and school district personnel to Rikuzentakata, Japan, as requested by Supervisor Cowan.”
Wednesday, Cowan countered the petition’s allegation, saying no vote was made at the meeting and that it was suggested she go to Japan, due to her former school district affiliations, as she was on the School Board when the boat from Japan arrived in Crescent City. Cowan noted at the time that she was very involved in all aspects of the early stages of the sister city relationships and wanted to be a part of it as it continued. Chair Chris Howard made the trip to Japan with City Mayor Blake Inscore, Council Member Heidi Kime, City Clerk Kymmie Scott and Del Norte High School Principal Randy Fugate.
“The connection between our two cities so far has been a wonderful experience, and I think it’s very important that we continue it,” she said at the Jan. 24 meeting. “And I would like to be a part of that.” Sutter objected at the meeting, saying Cowan’s emotional attachment did not justify spending county funds.
Howard said at the time that the city and county were originally approached and asked for two representatives from both the city and county. When it was found that Hemmingsen could not go, Scott volunteered to fill the empty spot.
“When Supervisor Cowan had expressed interest and background specific to that conversation in Rikuzentakata, Japan, and her relationship that she had developed through the School Board and previous visits from Amya [Miller] and the kids from Japan, I thought is was important for this board to at least hear the discussion and the passion she has for that relationship to continue,” Howard said, adding that the board had money set aside for travel expenses. CAO Jay Sarina agreed, saying funds could be released at the direction of the board. The item failed to go forward for lack of a motion, so Cowan made no such vote. A video of the Jan. 24 meeting is viewable on YouTube.
The other allegation in the petition states that Cowan nominated herself to go to Washington, D.C., at county expense without any specific agenda that would benefit the county. Cowan countered Wednesday, saying the trip had a very specific agenda, and that she nominated herself as an alternate, should Hemmingsen or Howard be unable to attend.
“I feel really sorry for people who are signing this [petition],” she said, “because what they are signing is an incorrect statement.” She said those who sign are doing so on the word of the petition’s author(s).
Cowan said a recall election would likely cost the county $30,000, which could be used for other, more worthwhile county programs.