Recall effort against Modesto councilwoman revived

08/05/2014 8:55 PM

08/05/2014 11:24 PM

The campaign to remove first-year Modesto Councilwoman Jenny Kenoyer from office has been resurrected.

Sue Stevens has taken up the effort to recall Kenoyer after other proponents gave up a few weeks ago.

Stevens and her supporters have until late September to collect the signatures of at least 3,361 registered voters in Kenoyer’s 5th Council District, which encompasses north-central Modesto, to put a recall election on the ballot. Those signatures represent 20 percent of the district’s registered voters.

Stevens said she and about 15 other volunteers have collected about 1,000 signatures on the recall petitions.

She said they are trying to recall Kenoyer – who was elected in November – for the same reasons cited by other foes of the councilwoman: that she went back on her campaign promise to protect farmland and that she is belligerent and does not have the temperament and skills to hold elected office. Kenoyer denies those claims and said she works hard to represent her constituents.

“She is in over her head,” Stevens said. “I don’t think she understands politics as well as she thinks she does.”

Kenoyer has been the focus of intense criticism. Her foes posted a recording on the Internet from her March town hall meeting in which she can be heard saying she is the boss of everyone in the city. But one person at the meeting said Kenoyer’s opponents baited her by questioning her effectiveness.

She also drew criticism when she started taking pictures of audience members who were taking pictures of her during a March council meeting. “My picture is taken so much, I should have the opportunity to take your picture,” she said. “... I don’t know why anyone should be upset.”

She was among the council majority that voted in January to include Wood Colony, the close-knit, more-than-century-old farming enclave west of Highway 99, in Modesto’s general plan, which serves as a blueprint for the city’s growth.

Modesto has faced a backlash from colony residents and their supporters over that decision. The dozens upon dozens of colony residents who have attended council meetings have said they don’t want their community included in the city’s plans. The vote has brought up the charge that Kenoyer went back on her campaign promise.

She said that is not true. She said the land the city is setting aside in the general plan is not part of the colony, an assertion colony residents dispute. Kenoyer said that as part of the general plan update she voted to return hundreds of acres of land designated for development elsewhere back to agriculture.

And she added that the general plan update includes her proposal to preserve farmland, which states that when land is annexed into the city and developed, an equal amount of land must be preserved forever as farmland.

The general plan is undergoing an environmental review, and city officials have said it should come back to the council in early 2016 for possible adoption.

If the recall attempt qualifies for the ballot, City Clerk Stephanie Lopez said Modesto would be looking at a special election at a cost of $100,000 to $150,000. The deadline to appear on the November ballot is Friday, according to the county election office.

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