Licking County News

Sagar's recall election slated Aug. 19

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Pataskala City Council voted 6-0 on June 30 to schedule a recall election Aug. 19 for Councilwoman Pat Sagar.

Sagar did not attend the meeting.

Precincts in the city's First Ward will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 19. Only First Ward residents will vote to retain Sagar or remove her from City Council.

Mayor Mike Compton said the election would cost the city $2,000 to $5,000 and perhaps much more with what he called "negativity" surrounding the issue.

"I'm tired of the negativity and don't understand why," he said. "I guess if I had concerns, I would have insisted on a meeting."

Compton said he tried to get both sides to sit down and talk but was unsuccessful.

Sagar's term expires at the end of 2015, and she has said she would not run for another term.

Compton said it might make more sense for recall supporters to focus on a candidate to run next year for Sagar's seat.

"When you think about it, she's only got a year and a half left and she has indicated she's not going to run again," he said. "Would it make more sense to focus on next person instead?"

Councilman Bryan Lenzo expressed similar concerns during the June 30 special meeting.

"In the charter, it's very technical and it doesn't talk about threshold or what recall should be used for," Lenzo said. "I believe it should be used for very serious situations, involving acts of wrongdoing or inappropriate behavior. It shouldn't be frivolous."

The recall was initiated by Carl and Deanna Roshong, who circulated petitions and obtained signatures from the required 15 percent of voters in the First Ward.

Gloria Carson, director of the Licking County Board of Elections, said 711 First Ward residents voted in Pataskala's last municipal election in November 2013. That means the petition was required to have 107 valid signatures.

Once the petitions were certified, Sagar had five days to resign if she chose. She declined to do so, requiring City Council, per the city charter, to set the June 30 special meeting to discuss a special recall election.

The Roshongs did not speak during the special meeting June 30.

Carl Roshong previously told ThisWeek he and his wife filed the recall petition because Sagar is unresponsive to voters in her ward; does not recognize the needs of her constituency and represent those needs, choosing instead to side with more urban concerns over the rural nature of her ward; and does not conduct herself professionally, showing emotions at times and failing to ask pertinent questions during interviews for various positions in the city.

He said other people share their concerns and eight people were involved in filing the initial letter requesting Sagar's recall.

First Ward resident Eileen DeRolf spoke at the June 30 meeting, saying she, too, had issues with Sagar.

DeRolf said Sagar does not always represent the rural concerns of her ward, mentioning her vote earlier this year to remove property from the city's firearms-discharge zone.

In February, City Council voted 3-3 on the request to remove property owned by the Fouras family from the zone. Resident Evangeline Fouras had asked City Council to remove the land.

Compton broke the tie and the property remained in the discharge zone.

DeRolf also said earlier this year, Sagar asked the Pataskala Division of Police to prevent DeRolf from speaking to her after DeRolf questioned Sagar in an email about her thoughts on City Council's hearing on Councilman Mike Fox.

Council dropped charges raised against Fox on Jan. 15. In a negotiated deal with the city, Fox agreed to apologize for three malfeasance charges brought against him and accepted a reprimand.

"These are all different reasons, none of which rise to the level of what a recall should be used for," Lenzo said. "Pat is a 50-year resident of Pataskala who has been on City Council since 1999 and been elected and re-elected four times, which is unprecedented in Pataskala's modern history. Obviously, she must be doing something right."

Lenzo said if people don't like a City Council member's performance, they should run against that person in the next general election or vote against the person, which is how the democratic process works.

Carl Roshong unsuccessfully challenged Sagar for the First Ward seat in November 2007.

Lenzo said the city's charter details the recall process, which has been followed by the petitioners and now will move forward.

"The charter says that's what you do, so we have no choice but to place (the issue) on the ballot," Lenzo said. "The people are entitled to the process and it now goes to the voters to decide."

Sagar was unavailable for comment last week. She said June 23 -- before the comments at the special meeting -- that she would decline to comment on the recall.

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