Licking County News

Sagar ready to move on after recall attempt fails

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First Ward residents on Aug. 19 voted 198 to 122 to retain Pataskala City Councilwoman Pat Sagar, according to unofficial results from the Licking County Board of Elections.

The result means Sagar, the City Council vice president, will be able to finish her term, which ends next year. She has said she does not plan to run for re-election.

The turnout of 320 in the recall election was about 12 percent of the ward's 2,635 registered voters, according to the board of elections.

"I was really surprised at the low turnout but am so glad it's over," Sagar said. "I am just relieved and grateful for all the support from all the Ward 1 people who stood up for me and voted for me."

Carl Roshong, who with his wife, Deanna, initiated the recall election, said he, too, was surprised at the turnout.

"It was rather sad that number turned out for the whole thing, considering Ward 1 is larger than that," Roshong said. "She's obviously going to finish out her term for the next year-and-a-half. I hope she represents her constituents better than she has in the past. The issue is over as far as I'm concerned."

Sagar said she is ready to get back to work.

"It's been a nightmare for the past three months of my life, but maybe it's not been in vain," she said. "The journey we've taken -- we're all better off. Now we need to get back on the train and start working."

Mayor Mike Compton agreed City Council must move on from the recall.

"I'm glad it's over so we can get rid of some more of the negativity," Compton said. "The residents asked for (the recall) and that was their right. It went through the process. The street fair was a forum for the issue and it played out there.

"Now it's done and over with and we just need to move on."

Tim Hickin, one of the newer members of City Council who took office in January, said he supported Sagar in the recall and is ready to put the issue in the past.

"The sooner we put this past us and move forward, the better off we are as a city," he said. "I'm ready to work, not bicker."

City Council President Dan Hayes said a few vocal residents had been saying Ward 1 was "fed up" with Sagar's representation, but the turnout did not support that claim.

"The election results indicate that only 122 of these voters were so 'fed up' with Patty that they voted to remove her," Hayes said. "That is less than 5 percent. Conversely, this means more than 95 percent of the registered voters in Ward 1 are either happy with Patty's performance or aren't upset enough to take five minutes out of their day to try and get rid of her. That doesn't sound like a ward that is 'fed up' to me."

He called the entire recall effort "nothing but a colossal waste of time and taxpayer money."

Gloria Carson, director of the Licking County Board of Elections, said Aug. 21 she did not have all receipts for the special election so she could not yet calculate the total cost to Pataskala.

Previous estimates for the cost of the recall election were $3,000 to $5,000.

Sagar, 69, was appointed to City Council in 1999 and was re-elected three times.

The petitioners who started the recall accused Sagar of nothing illegal but alleged she was not adequately representing Ward 1 residents.

Carl Roshong previously told ThisWeek he and his wife filed the recall petition because Sagar was unresponsive to voters in her ward; did 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 did not conduct herself professionally, showing emotions at times and failing to ask pertinent questions during interviews for various positions in the city.

First Ward resident Eileen DeRolf made similar comments to City Council at a June 30 meeting. DeRolf said Sagar did not always represent the rural concerns of her ward and that earlier this year, Sagar asked the Pataskala Division of Police to prevent DeRolf from speaking to Sagar.

DeRolf has requested an investigation of an incident in which police Chief Bruce Brooks and officer Scott McClelland told her during a Jan. 15 hearing not to speak to Sagar because of an email she had sent to the councilwoman.

Sagar said she received DeRolf's email during the disciplinary hearings for Councilman Mike Fox. The email said Fox "played a significant role in saving your son's life" and questioned her attitude about Fox because Sagar was among the council members voting in favor of investigations into malfeasance allegations against Fox.

Sagar's son was gravely injured in a 1990 accident near Fox's home. Fox has said he rendered aid to Sagar's son, but ThisWeek has been unable to obtain official records about the accident.

Brooks said Sagar showed him the email from DeRolf. He said Sagar told him she did not want to be contacted further by DeRolf and that he advised Sagar that he could speak to DeRolf and ask her to refrain from contacting Sagar and tell her of potential charges that could be pursued.

He said Sagar was not interested in pressing charges and because he was not in uniform, Brooks said, he had McClelland go with him to speak to DeRolf.

To date, the mayor and City Council have not initiated an investigation into the incident.

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