Our View: Recall law bad idea

Thursday , December 20, 2012 - 2:00 PM

Editorial Board

A move to change state law to allow recalls of public officials for noncriminal conduct is a bad idea for more than one reason. It’s a terrible manner in which to try to force Dennis Fife, Brigham City’s mayor under fire, out of office.

Not surprisingly, there is a lot of pressure for Mayor Fife to resign after he admitted to an extramarital affair. So far, the mayor has chosen not to take that action. It’s possible he may eventually succumb to pressure and end his tenure as mayor. At a meeting tonight, the Brigham City Council plans to vote on a resolution that asks him to resign.

Brigham City is a small community, and it’s understandable that there is outrage over the mayor’s marital indiscretion. However, we respect the mayor’s decision to stay on in his position. If he chooses to eventually resign, we’ll respect that choice as well. We’ve no doubt there are many other people qualified to lead Brigham City.

However, enacting a law designed to recall public officials for infidelity, as the law state Sen. Lee Perry, R-Perry, would enable, is a dangerous misuse of authority. Utah already has mechanisms in place to remove officials if they are convicted of a criminal offense. To allow recalls for noncriminal behavior opens the door to citizens seeking recalls for a variety of reasons that don’t merit recall action.

Such a law will provide a manner for petty, personal disputes or gripes to be politicized and used as a public weapon.

Mayor Fife’s infidelity is not a good enough reason to forcibly remove him from office. There’s no need for the law Perry is proposing. If citizens want the mayor to resign, they can continue to exercise their rights to urge him to do so. That’s as far as this issue needs to go. Legislative action would just be political thuggery masquerading as morality.

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