Union County recall plan has ‘50-50 chance’

The state lawmaker crafting a plan that would allow for the recall of Union County school board members now says there is a 50-50 chance he will be able to introduce the bill.

N.C. Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union, said he hopes to get a draft of the bill to the county’s other four General Assembly members next week. Under legislative rules, all members of a county’s delegation must support a local bill before it can be introduced. The legislature’s short session starts May 14.

Based on general comments from the other lawmakers, Horn said, “No one has said don’t do it, but no one has said ‘I’m behind you.’...There’s a 50-50 chance it will be filed.”

Horn decided to pursue the legislation at the request of parents fighting the school board over its controversial redistricting plan for the next school year. The board took a surprise vote in March and approved the plan to shuffle several thousand students to different schools to ease crowding.

Irate parents sued the school district to try to stop the plan; that case is pending. Getting the legislature to allow residents to pursue a recall is another tactic the parents are trying.

Parents were upset that redistricting would disrupt their children’s lives, lead to longer bus rides or impact neighborhood property values, among other concerns.

Horn said he supports the idea of a recall option for voters but is not taking a position on redistricting because it is not a state issue.

“I’m not on a crusade here,” Horn said. “I’m trying to be responsive to my constituents and be responsive to all of the people in Union County.”

Horn is having the bill drafted to be similar to a 2011 plan dealing with the recall process for Burke County school board members.

Under the Burke plan, if at least 15 percent of registered voters sign a recall petition then that would clear the way for a recall vote. With about 140,000 registered voters in Union County, such a petition would need at least about 21,000 signatures.