Petitioners urge Chase supervisors recall

If successful, November recall election would be held

CHASE TWP. — A petition is circling in Chase Township that organizers hope will garner enough support to recall the township board supervisor.

Chase Township Trustee Amy Patterson and residents Richard Ruster and Roger Beilfuss filled a petition last month to recall township Supervisor Ken Shoemaker. If the petitioners collect enough valid signatures, an election will be held in November to possibly replace Shoemaker.

The petition specifically alleges “(Shoemaker) illegally bars board members from reviewing township records” and “(Shoemaker) directs lawyers to act on the township’s behalf without authority from the board” – allegations Shoemaker denies.

“We decided recall was the best option because we have had many, many, many ongoing problems with the board supervisor,” Patterson said.

Patterson, a Republican, was elected to her first term on the board in 2012. During her time on the board, she claims Shoemaker, also a Republican, has not been willing to corporate with people. She said she has asked Shoemaker to review records and bills pertaining to the township’s attorney before the board’s monthly meetings but claims the documents were not offered to her, or when they were, she could not make a meeting to review them.

Sometime early last fall a group of township residents, which includes Ruster and Beilfuss, started meeting to discuss concerns they had with the township board. One of their concerns was how much the township was spending on its attorney.

“A lot of the (spending on the attorney) we didn’t feel was really necessary,” Ruster said.

The group invited Patterson to its meetings and eventually it was decided their best course of action to settle their grievances was to petition to recall Shoemaker, Patterson said.

“At first I didn’t think (the petition) would pass because of the wording,” Shoemaker said. “So I wasn’t too concerned about it.”

Because Shoemaker maintains the petition’s allegations are false, he did not take it seriously until the petition language was approved. Once it was approved, he had 10 days to appeal the petition. However, he decided against an appeal because he estimated it would cost him thousands of dollars in fees, and an appeal only makes sure the petition is clear to a voter and does not seek to find truth in the petition’s allegations, he said.

Shoemaker said he has offered “repeatedly” to make appointments with board members to view attorney bills. He emailed them to members, but they were released to the public, violating attorney-client confidentiality, he said. He also claims he set a specific date and time to view the bills, but members refused to attend.

He also said he has always had the board’s approval when dealing with the township attorney, but it has been a 3-to-2 vote of approval.

In order for the recall to move forward, petitioners must collect 86 valid signatures – 25 percent of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election – in 180 days. Once the signatures are collected and their validity is verified, a Nov. 4 election will be held to possibly recall Shoemaker. Per state law, Shoemaker will appear on the ballot alongside a candidate chosen by the Lake County Democratic Party and any others who wish to run without political affiliation. No primary will be held.

Patterson, Ruster and Beilfuss say they have already collected the 86 signatures needed but will continue circulating the petition to ensure the recall moves forward.

“(The recall petition is) going very enthusiastically, and the enthusiasm seems to be for the recall based on the persons and the amount of signing,” Beilfuss said.

Although Shoemaker chose not to appeal the petition, he said he won’t resign from his position as supervisor and plans to endure the recall attempt. He believes the recall petitioners represent a group of residents who are attacking the township and would continue to attack it even if he wasn’t in office.

“I haven’t been concerned about it because I am quite confident that I have the support of the majority of the township,” Shoemaker said.