ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A petition drive to recall two members of the Cowley College Board of Trustees has fallen short of the necessary number of signatures, apparently ending a controversy that has roiled the college in Arkansas City since spring.
Matt Nies told Cowley County Clerk Karen Madison that only 650 people had signed the petition as of last week and it appeared that the drive would fall short before Wednesday’s deadline to submit the petitions, The Arkansas City Traveler reported. The group needed 938 signatures to recall trustee Ron Godsey and 1,105 for board chairman Dennis Shurtz.
The different totals are based on a percentage of voters who cast ballots in the last election for each trustee.
“It looks like the signature gathering process is not going to be successful,” Nies told Madison in an email. “We have around 650 signatures as of today, and do not anticipate being able to make up the balance before the deadline.”
The petition organizers alleged that the trustees violated the Kansas Open Meetings law in March when they met behind closed doors to discuss then-president Clark Williams’ decision to eliminate men’s and women’s soccer programs.
The decision, along with the firing of longtime basketball coach Tommy DeSalme, created a public uproar that prompted Williams to resign in April. The soccer programs were then reinstated and DeSalme was rehired.
“I am pleased the silent majority have prevailed and they do not feel the board is guilty of any wrongdoing,” Godsey said in an email. “Hopefully, this is the last of the distractions and we can devote our energy toward moving the college forward once again.”
Shurtz said “That’s great” when told of the recall failure and then declined further comment.
Nies, a former Cowley College employee, said the recall committee will dissolve and he does not plan to file a complaint with the county attorney to request an investigation of the open meetings allegations.
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