First-year Modesto Councilwoman Jenny Kenoyer has survived an attempt to oust her from office.
Her opponents failed to gather enough signatures from voters in Kenoyer’s 5th council district to put a recall election on the ballot. They had 120 days to collect 3,385 signatures, which is 20 percent of the district’s voters. Their time ended Monday.
Fifth district resident and recall volunteer Sue Stevens said the campaign’s volunteers gathered slightly more than 3,000 signatures and did not turn them into the city for verification because they fell short.
Stevens and others were trying to recall Kenoyer because they say she went back on her campaign promise to protect farmland and claim she is arrogant and lacks the temperament and skills to hold office. Kenoyer has denied those claims and on Monday questioned how many signatures her opponents gathered.
“I’d like to see the 3,000 (signatures),” she said. “I can’t believe they got 3,000. Maybe they did. But they have lied about so many things about me.”
Kenoyer received 2,580 votes in the November election as she narrowly defeated incumbent Stephanie Burnside.
Salida resident and recall volunteer Nanette Spyksma said volunteers gathered 3,039 signatures and that Kenoyer can doubt all she wants. The recall petitions were not available Monday because Spyksma said they are scattered among 21 volunteers.
Stevens and Spyksma said they were confident they would have gathered enough signatures if they’d had a little more time. The recall campaign got off to a slow start but picked up speed when some of the original organizers stepped aside and others got more involved. Spyksma added that 5th district voters often were eager to sign the recall petitions.
“A lot of time, all you had to say is, ‘Jenny Kenoyer,’ and they’d say, ‘Where is the paper (to sign)?’ ” she said.
Kenoyer raised the issue that some of the people trying to recall her don’t live in her north-central Modesto district. The recall volunteers are from her council district, as well as Salida, the unincorporated town north of Modesto, and Wood Colony, the farming enclave west of Highway 99.
Recall proponents have said Salida and Wood Colony residents got involved because the Modesto City Council is making land-use and growth decisions that are hurting their communities.
Kenoyer was among the council majority that voted in January to include Wood Colony 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. 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 to save farmland.
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 to agriculture hundreds of acres of land elsewhere that is designated for development.
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.