Effort to recall Columbia councilwoman fails when village board declines to act

Januszkiewicz support of McCarty angers group

July 19, 2000|By Laura Vozzella | Laura Vozzella,SUN STAFF

An effort to oust Columbia Councilwoman Cecilia Januszkiewicz failed last night when a majority of the Long Reach Village Board declined to call a special meeting for a recall.

A group of residents, angry over Januszkiewicz's support of former Columbia Association President Deborah O. McCarty, has been trying to remove her from office for months.

In April elections, Long Reach voters approved a charter amendment that allows for recalling its representative to the Columbia Council. Soon thereafter, the village board received a petition with 53 signatures, asking them to call a special meeting to recall Januszkiewicz, who has a year left on her two-year term.

The board voted 2-1 last night in favor of calling the special meeting, with two members abstaining. But the measure did not pass because a majority of the five-member village board - not a majority of those casting votes - is required to call a special meeting.

Members Victor Bailey and Dr. William Taylor voted in favor of the meeting, saying the board should heed the will of residents who had demanded a recall vote.

Board member Debra Cromwell cast the lone vote against the meeting, praising Januszkiewicz's dedication and urging the village to put past turmoil behind it. "This will cause more upheaval over someone who, if you ask me, commits an awful lot of her time for not a lot of thanks," Cromwell said.

Chairman Henry Dagenais and Vice Chairman John Snyder abstained, saying they could not be objective because they had clashed with Januszkiewicz over policy issues in the past.

Critics accused Januszkiewicz of poor attendance at board meetings and of failing, through her support of McCarty, to represent their desires to see McCarty removed from office. McCarty resigned under pressure in May.

Januszkiewicz attended the meeting, and said she was surprised to learn the board would be voting on her fate. In a short statement to the board, she defended her dedication to a volunteer post that she said demands at least 20 hours of her time each week.

She said it wouldn't be fair to call a recall meeting and potentially overturn an election, based on the wishes of 53 petitioners.

"The election has to mean something, and it should not be lightly put aside," Januszkiewicz said.

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