Recall try in Ashland comes to quick halt

ASHLAND — A coalition of Ashland business people has decided not to pursue the recall of three City Council members they perceive as anti-business.

Business owner Richard Hansen said a recall would be "divisive" and cost too much for a city that has already spent $200,000 to fight the expansion of Mount Ashland ski area.

The group of business people who oppose council members Eric Navickas, Cate Hartzell and Alice Hardesty will devote their efforts toward unseating them with more business-friendly candidates in 2008, he said.

Hansen said he represents about a dozen business owners unhappy with the trio's opposition to the expansion, to a plaza police substation and their support of affordable housing on city-owned Oak Knoll golf course.

Recall proponents would have had to gather 1,461 names (15 percent of voters in the last election for governor) and to hold an election that would cost the city up to $7,000.

Hansen said he and his group would be participating, as opponents, in the attempted recall of Councilman David Chapman.

A recall petition was taken out Tuesday by Aaron Corbet. It charged Chapman with polarizing the council, having "deep antipathy" to the three other members, and having "contempt" for the democratic process.

Attorney Randall Hopkins, who posted a letter to the city's e-mail message board "listserv" urging a moratorium of recalls, said he was pleased, because "everyone ought to step back from the brink "¦ we've got an election coming up and that's preferable to launching into all this turmoil."

Planning commissioner John Stromberg, co-signer of the listserv letter, said recalls should be saved for instances of serious misdeeds, incompetence or illegal behavior, not to reverse an election.

Hardesty said the group of business people for recall are not characteristic of the business community as a whole.

"I don't know who they are and no one will release their names." She added, "I'm glad. It's better for the city not to engage in all that conflict," which she said goes back primarily to the ski area expansion.

Nola Silverman, owner of Renaissance Rose on the plaza and an opponent of the ski area expansion, said the recall group "certainly is not speaking for me. I don't know who they are and I think they are probably a small part of the business community."

She said that more business in the winter (from the ski area) would be helpful for her clothing and accessories store, "but I'm not willing to sacrifice our environment to make a living." The recall process is unnecessary, she noted, because "people voted in these council members for good reasons, because they represent a significant part of the population."

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at

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