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Editorial: Willmar’s dealing with pure democracy

Willmar is facing a politically challenging time as the Recall Ron Christianson effort officially began this week.

There are strong feelings on both sides of the recall effort. It is important for all to respect the process of the democracy we call Willmar under this city’s charter.

The charter’s Section 7.01 entitled “powers reserved by the people” reads, “The people of the City of Willmar reserve to themselves the power of the initiative, the referendum and recall to be exercised in accordance with and as limited by the provisions of this Article.”

The “people of the city of Willmar” applies to any residents within the city — who are registered voters. This includes those that disapprove of council member Christianson’s performance and those that approve of his performance.

The charter’s Section 7.05 entitled “recall” reads, “The exercise in each instance of the power of recall shall be by a committee of not less than five registered voters of the City.”

So under the charter, the Recall Ron Christianson committee has every right to start this recall effort. Simply, any five voters can form a committee and seek a recall effort in any ward for whatever reasons they wish — be it for alleged malfeasance or for any other reason they so desire. Then they must get enough signers to take their recall effort to the next step.

Opponents have every right not to sign the recall the petition as well as encourage people not to sign.

The next step for the Recall Ron Christianson committee as directed by the charter is to obtain the necessary number of signatures of Ward 2 residents to request a recall election. They now have 90 days to achieve the required signatures.

There were 2,948 registered voters in Willmar’s Ward 2 in the Nov. 7, 2014, general election. Thus, per the charter 25 percent rule, the committee’s recall petition requirement is 727 register voters from Ward 2.

Whether you agree with the recall effort or not, one has to admire the individuals on the recall committee. It took courage to put their names and addresses on the line, which is not an easy thing to do due to the criticism that comes with their public positions. They are taking their citizenship responsibility seriously.

Kudos to all who have spoken up at recent City Council meetings — those speaking in support of recalling Christianson and those speaking in support of Christianson. They are all participating in our democratic process here in Willmar.

As this recall process plays out, it is important for all individuals on both sides to keep their emotions under control and remain civil. There is a process set up by the city’s charter and all must respect that process as it plays out.

While democracy is freedom, it is not always a pretty process.

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