Daniel Isaacson’s response to Question 5

Question 5. From a verified Ward 7 voter (unedited) regarding the recall of Ward 7 Councilor Syrett

“Here is a question for Daniel Isaacson. In your recently submitted response posted on this website, you stated your view that “[t]he recall [of Ward 7 Councilor Syrett] was not a correct one, … it created a system that allows any group to recall anyone and say whatever deceptive or outright falsehood, no matter how inflammatory ….”

“You did not explain why you thought the recall was “not a correct one,” but in past public statements you have asserted that the petitioners were “felons” who “perpetrated a fraud.”

“Is your view that the petitioners, who are Eugene citizens, some of whom reside in Ward 7, are felons? (Yes or No?)”

Daniel Isaacson’s response: No
The following comments were submitted with the response to the question:

“Thank you for the question. I was constrained by the committee’s word limit otherwise I would have been more detailed, so I am grateful to be able to explore it. 

I actually have never, and I don’t think to my knowledge anyone else either, said that anyone is a felon.1 What I said was that the Secretary of State and Oregon Revised Statutes clearly state the consequences for violations of the form required by everyone collecting signatures (SEL350) and one of the consequences can be a felony for false information. 

My issue with the recall was a process one. You can dislike Syrett. You can wish her to be fired. You can wish many things against her or the city or to send a message to the rest of council. But if in your zeal to remove her and send that message, you dismantle the system itself that we rely on function, it is counter-productive and very dangerous. 

A recall is meant to have a high bar for acceptance. It’s meant to because we do not want small factions, angry at their own issues hijacking every elected official’s term across the board.2 It is meant as a stop-gap, check and balance for the voters to correct, mid-term something so egregious it simply cannot wait until the next election. 

To that end, the information provided as the basis for someone seeking of a recall needs to be accurate and honest. For years the practice has been for the city clerk or the county clerk to check the accuracy, and by that I mean truthfulness, of claims made on the SEL 350.3 That was not done this time. There was a transition between the old clerk and our new clerk and the decision was to defer to the county circuit court to decide the truthfulness of the statement provided by the recall petitioners. 

Here is the danger. If I go get signatures to recall a city councilor because they voted to allow a new apartment building and I don’t like that, could I get enough people to agree with me to qualify for the ballot in the time required? Maybe. Maybe not. But if I tell people, the councilor took bribes or embezzled city funds, would it be easier to get those signatures? YES. And thus if there is no check on the truthfulness of these statements, our mailboxes will be filled with recall after recall after recall, by very small minorities trying to get through a recall what they cannot get during a normal election. The balance of justice is now tilted heavily in favor of one side. 

Further, by making the ONLY arbitrator of the truthfulness of these statements a circuit court judge, you create a system where only those with $10,000, $15,000 or more, or those with access to special interest money, to be able to seek a fair resolution; if you don’t have that money, small, minority groups can literally say whatever they want, unchecked. That is not the system envisioned by the drafters of the recall process and it is not observed by any recall language in any state in our country. 

The ends do not justify the means. The permanent system itself is more important than the temporary need to remove one councilor. We have a tendency to support this action because it worked in your favor; Syrett was removed. That thinking works until the time comes the same tactic and technique is used against someone you DO like and want. That is why I worked to defeat it. That is why I gave a full-throated defense. And if the same situation were happening to Councilor Clark, who we disagree on many things, I would have stood right next to him as well. 

Thank you for listening.”

Steering Committee Notes:

1, The Ward 7 voter who submitted the question provided the following references to Daniel Isaacson’s comments. (We have verified the accuracy):

registerguard.com comments posted online, August 18, 2022:
“The [petitioners] lied on their SEL350 and perpetrated a fraud on the People. That’s a felony and entangles every single contributor in this action.”
August 19, 2022: “The petitioners knew the rules and broke them. They perpetrated a fraud on the people. They intentionally lied to the voters to fraudulently obtain their signature …”

Whole Community News “Dan Isaacson urges Ward 7 voters to vote against the recall”, Interview August 30, 2022
“They lied on their SEL 350 [The petition application form].”
“They lied; they committed a fraudulent [sic] on the people.”

2. For reference, the Oregon Constitution specifies the requirements for the recall of a local elected official. Here are the relevant criteria. Click here to read the entire text of Section 18.

Section 18. Recall; meaning of words “the legislative assembly shall provide.” (1) Every public officer in Oregon is subject, as herein provided, to recall by the electors of the state or of the electoral district from which the public officer is elected.
      (2) Fifteen per cent, but not more, of the number of electors who voted for Governor in the officer’s electoral district at the most recent election at which a candidate for Governor was elected to a full term, may be required to file their petition demanding the officer’s recall by the people.
      (3) They shall set forth in the petition the reasons for the demand.
     (5) On the ballot at the election shall be printed in not more than 200 words the reasons for demanding the recall of the officer as set forth in the recall petition ….
      (6) … No such petition shall be circulated against any officer until the officer has actually held the office six months …
      (7) After one such petition and special election, no further recall petition shall be filed against the same officer during the term for which the officer was elected unless such further petitioners first pay into the public treasury which has paid such special election expenses, the whole amount of its expenses for the preceding special election.

3. For further reference, here are the duties of the local Elections Official regarding a submitted SEL 350 form: Click here to review the State Elections Division’s Recall Manual.

Elections Official
After receiving the prospective recall petition the elections official:
✓ reviews the forms for required information;
✓ date and time stamps the prospective petition if the form is complete;
✓ assigns the petition an identification number;
✓ scans and emails a date stamped copy of the SEL 350 to