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State rebuffs attempt to recall Ketchikan state Rep Johansen; recall committee can sue

Posted: October 12, 2011 - 7:11pm  |  Updated: October 13, 2011 - 5:29am

JUNEAU — The backers of an effort to recall Ketchikan state Rep. Kyle Johansen will decide whether to take the issue to court after the state rebuffed their attempt.

Dick Coose said Wednesday that he and other members of the recall effort do not agree with the state’s assessment and will likely meet in the coming days to decide whether to pursue the matter in court or work to keep Johansen from being re-elected, should he decide to run again.

The Republican Johansen was targeted for recall by a group of District 1 Republicans after losing his position as majority leader. Johansen and Anchorage Rep. Charisse Millett walked out of the GOP-led caucus over organizational issues last fall. The caucus voted not to readmit them.

The committee cited the dustup and what it called a “demonstrated incompetence and lack of integrity” and dereliction of duties in pursuing the recall effort with the state. It said Johansen had been noticeably absent from the district and unavailable to constituents for the past year.

But Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai said she concluded, in consultation with the Department of Law, that the recall application failed to state a legally sufficient ground for recall. She said the application contained no information or allegation that Johansen engaged in unlawful conduct, the legal standard for certifying a recall petition.

Johansen expressed relief in a blog posting entitled “Moving Ahead.”

“I realize I have work to do with a number of District One constituents who supported the recall,” he wrote. “I started that process quite a while ago and have had several personal discussions with former supporters of that effort. All I can do is continue to communicate, work hard for District One and move ahead on issues and challenges we face.”

Fenumiai said she notified the recall committee of the decision Monday and that it has 30 days from that time to file an action in state court, if that’s what it chooses.

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