Sloam Springs group starts recall petitions for two directors over administrator’s firing


SILOAM SPRINGS -- A group called Unite Siloam is seeking to recall city Directors David Allen and Lesa Rissler over the firing of City Administrator Phillip Patterson and the belief the city board is disregarding input from residents, according to Matt Feyerabend, a group member.

Unite Siloam started March 8, the day after Patterson was fired, and has at least 30-40 members, Feyerabend said. The petition was available for people to sign beginning March 15, Feyerabend said.

Feyerabend said he does not know how many signatures the group has but that about 25 people are gathering signatures.

The petitions are also available at the Heart of the Home store and Ivory Bill Brewing Co. for people to sign during normal business hours.

The Siloam Springs Herald-Leader reached out to both Allen and Rissler for comment.

Rissler said she represents the residents, so it's up to them to decide.

Allen sent the following comment in an email: "Matt Feyerabend is self-described on Facebook as a 'socialist' and an 'ex-evangelical.' I would like to say I was shocked when Matt posted a huge 'Defund the Police' sign in the window of his Pure Joy ice cream store in downtown Siloam Springs. With his radical views, it is very ironic to see him start a group called Unite Siloam."

Allen went on to say: "Matt and the Unite Siloam group has posted false information on Facebook and continues to spread innuendo that is just flat out dishonest."

Feyerabend did not address Allen's comments during a city board meeting Tuesday.

Allen added the public is not usually made aware of all circumstances in personnel decisions made by the city.

Feyerabend said Allen and Rissler misused their power to terminate Patterson without cause and the effects of that decision are damaging the city.

Ben Bergstrom, another Siloam Springs resident, shared similar opinions.

"Both directors have shown themselves to be disinterested in the voices of the people of Siloam, most recently with the firing without cause of our highly revered and respected city administrator," Bergstrom said.

Bergstrom went on to say Allen and Rissler have displayed no clear vision for Siloam Springs and are actively hurting it and keeping the residents in the dark as to why.

Other residents have issued statements of support for the two directors. Gary Riley said there are many people who appreciate and support Allen and Rissler.

"We have finally got people on our city board who are working for the citizens of Siloam," Riley said. "There always are those who have their own agenda and will push back when they lose power. Stay the course. Good things will happen if we do."

Residents will need to submit a petition requesting the removal, said City Clerk Renea Ellis.

The petition needs to be signed by 35% of the total number of votes cast for all candidates for that office in the preceding general municipal election, Ellis said. Petitioners will have 60 days before the next special election date to turn in their petitions, according to Kim Dennison, the election coordinator for the Benton County Election Commission.

Special elections are set for Aug. 8 and Nov. 14, Dennison said. This means that the petitions need to be turned in before June 9 for the Aug 8 election and Sept 15 for the Nov. 14 election, Dennison said.

Ellis said she will determine the sufficiency of the petitions within 10 days from the date of filing. If the petitions are deemed sufficient, the clerk shall certify them to the county board of election commissioners, Ellis said.

The commissioners will set an election date within 90 days of certification by the clerk, she said.

No recall petition can be filed against a director until he has held his position for six months. Allen was sworn in in January 2021.

Rissler was recently resworn in January 2023, so the petition to recall Rissler cannot be filed until July, Ellis said. Since Rissler ran unopposed in the 2022 election, the 35% needed to recall Rissler will have to come from the last election where her position was contested, which was in 2018, Ellis said.

For Allen, a total of 1,875 signatures -- 35% of 5,359 votes cast citywide for the at-large position in the November 2020 election -- are needed, according to official results provided by the Benton County Election Commission.

For Rissler, a total of 319 signatures are required out of the 912 cast in Ward 4 in November 2018.

  photo  Rissler

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