Recall efforts underway for Grants Pass Mayor Sara Bristol

GRANTS PASS, Ore. – A recall effort is underway for Grants Pass Mayor Sara Bristol.

It’s been in the works for weeks now.

The city said just over 2,400 signatures need to be submitted by July 25.

Suzanne Barber filed the recall petition, this is part of what she wrote on it:

“City of Grants Pass Mayor Sara Bristol does not represent the conservative principles of the majority of her constituents. Mayor Sara Bristol’s repeated failures to protect the rights of the citizens of Grants Pass is cause for her recall.”

Bristol was elected mayor just 2 1/2 years ago in November 2020 and won easily.

Her current term runs out next year.

So far 2023 has been an interesting one in Grants Pass city hall.

Just this month, a group of residents accused the city of not doing enough about the homeless in city parks.

“You’ve got machete-wielding drug addicts in the park… I’m confused,” resident Catherine Hamilton said.

“Grandkids… we can’t take to the park, because there are needles on the ground that they can step on,” resident Sam Neff said.

On Sunday, a man was shot and killed at the city’s iconic Riverside Park.

Police believe the two people involved were staying overnight at the park.

“You read on Facebook or social media, there was a shooting, or somebody got stabbed, someone overdosed and it just feels like it’s a constant thing,” nearby resident Sarah Gragg said.

But the city’s issues with the homeless go back half a decade, long before Mayor Bristol took office.

In 2018, a homeless woman filed a lawsuit against Grants Pass, saying the city’s anti-camping ordinance and criminal trespass laws violate her 8th and 14th Amendment rights.

Last year, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the woman, saying cities do violate the Eighth Amendment if they punish a person for sleeping outside.

“I know people ask frequently to just disobey the injunction but as somebody said, we can’t enforce the law by breaking the law, that doesn’t make any sense,” Bristol said.

In February, the city council voted to remove several items related to homelessness from the city’s ‘priority list.’

Mayor Bristol vetoed the decision.

“This community really needs to do something to address the homeless issue, we have homeless people overtaking our parks it’s been getting worse the past two years, ” she said.

Mayor Bristol did not respond to our request for comment Wednesday.

We were also unable to reach the chief petitioner.

Grants Pass said if enough signatures are received, they would have to be verified before deciding when it would go on the ballot.

The recall effort is expected to come up at Wednesday night’s city council meeting.

Stay tuned to NBC5 News for more updates.

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NBC5 News reporter Zachary Larsen grew up in Surprise, Arizona. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. At ASU, Zack interned at Arizona Sports 98.7FM and Softball America. During his Junior year, Zack joined the ASU Sports Bureau. He covered the Fiesta Bowl, the Phoenix Open and major basketball tournaments. Zack enjoys working out, creative writing, music, and rooting for his ASU Sun Devils.
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