The citizens group trying to gain a recall election of Independence City Council Member Tom Van Camp has called off its campaign.
In a social media post announcing the decision, the group said it had collected 452 signatures certified by the Jackson County Election Board, fewer than half of the 1,286 signatures – 8 percent of the registered voters in Van Camp's Fourth District – required by the City Charter to force a recall election. There was no imminent deadline, but apparently not much hope of gaining a large number of additional signatures
“Additional petitions were collected, but the decision was made not to turn them in since they would still fall short of the required number,” the group posted. “The number of signatures required for a recall (is) appropriately high. A recall is a serious matter.”
“Our concerns about the decisions, actions and public demeanor of Van Camp remain. We believe our efforts have focused new attention and brought awareness to the public service and public record of Council Member Van Camp.”
Van Camp had come under fire from some citizens for his travel costs related to the city and the solar farm at the former Rockwood Golf Club land in his district, among other actions and decisions. Van Camp was heavily involved in the city’s acquisition of the Rockwood land, and some citizens have bemoaned the process and price of that acquisition and what many saw as a lack of community engagement.
Van Camp, who was first elected to the council in 2014 to finish a term and was unopposed when re-elected two years later, said about the news that “it's time to move on for the city.” He has touted that the Rockwood acquisition for the solar farm prevented the land from becoming Section 8 housing, a concern expressed by many citizens for several years.
Lee Williams, treasurer of the recall campaign's political action committee, suggested the charter could use a revision alter the large margin between required signatures to get on the ballot (100 for a council district candidate) and the number needed for a recall (nearly 1,300 in this case).
“We tried; we did our best, but it was too high a bar for us,” Williams said. “We're going to be watching Van Camp very closely.”
Williams said some of the recall group members ran into some intimidation at the polls from Van Camp supporters during the Nov. 6 elections, and in general voters seemed a bit scared to sign petitions.
Van Camp, who admittedly got into a small fight at a polling place with another man reportedly wearing a Van Camp had, said he had no comment regarding the alleged intimidation.