Attempt to oust Modesto council members fizzles

The Modesto Bee

The effort to oust Modesto City Council members Dave Cogdill and Jenny Kenoyer from office is over, with organizers saying they made little progress in collecting the voter signatures needed to put recall elections on the ballot.

Organizers had until late September to collect more than 3,300 signatures in Kenoyer’s 5th Council District and more than 3,100 signatures in Cogdill’s 6th District to qualify recall elections for the ballot. Those signatures represent 20 percent of the registered voters in each council district.

Organizers started gathering signatures in May and had collected 300 to 400 in Cogdill’s district and 200 to 300 in Kenoyer’s.

“All I would say is people have not come out of the woodwork and engaged with the issue ... in terms of supporting this,” said 5th District resident John Holsinger, who led the effort against Kenoyer.

Sixth District resident John Walker led the charge to remove Cogdill.

Walker and Holsinger are upset over the City Council’s votes on a proposed amendment to Modesto’s general plan, which serves as a blueprint for the city’s growth and development in the coming decades. Cogdill and Kenoyer were among the council members who voted 5-2 in January to include Wood Colony – a close-knit, more-than-century-old farming community west of Highway 99 – in the general plan.

That decision is among the most contentious Modesto has faced in recent years. Hundreds of Wood Colony residents and their supporters attended council and other public meetings to voice their opposition to the city’s plans. They have said the council has ignored the wishes of the majority of colony residents while supporting the plans of a handful of landowners who want to develop their land and come into the city.

Foes also accused Kenoyer, who was elected in November, of being arrogant and not suited for the council. She has denied that, and she and Cogdill have said they stand by their council votes.

Walker said he should have done a better job organizing the recall efforts by lining up volunteers and financial support before starting to collect signatures. He said no more than eight people volunteered to collect signatures.

Walker said he plans on regrouping and will be active in the November 2015 election when Mayor Garrad Marsh and Councilman John Gunderson are up for re-election. Councilman Dave Lopez’s seat also will be open. Lopez cannot run for re-election because of term limits.