Antelope County voters have spoken.
Commissioners Tom Borer and Allan Bentley were ousted from office on Tuesday in a special recall election, according to unofficial results.
The early results indicate that 337 voted to recall Borer in District #5 and 307 voted to recall Bentley in District #3 — recalling them both by a majority vote. According Antelope County Attorney Joe Abler, removal from office takes effect immediately.
A total of 1,796 total ballots were mailed out to voters in the two districts. Antelope County Clerk Lisa Payne said the process went smoothly.
“I’m pleased with the voter turnout with a mail-in ballot,” Abler said.
There were 337 votes cast in favor of recalling Borer or 64.31 percent of the vote, and 187 votes against. For Bentley, there were 307 votes in favor of recalling him or 63.83 percent, and 174 votes against.
The canvassing board was to meet at 9 a.m. on Wednesday morning to verify the results. Advertising for the two replacement commissioners will begin next week in the county’s two legal newspapers — the Antelope County News and The Elgin Review — and run for three consecutive weeks.
Antelope County will be seeking applicants for the remainder of Borer and Bentley’s terms. They will be selected by Abler, Payne and Treasurer Deb Branstiter. Public interviews will be held to make the selections. According to state statute, “all vacancies shall be filled within 45 days after the vacancy occurs unless good cause is shown that the requirement imposes an undue burden.”
However, this application process won’t stop the commissioners from meeting.
“They can move forward with official business because they have a quorum,” Abler said. “They will still have their regular meeting in November.”
The petitions for a recall were brought forth in July by county residents Bethany Miller and Jack Allemang. At that time, Borer and Bentley had been in office just over six months.
To place the recall on the ballot, 203 signatures were needed for Borer and 279 were collected. For Bentley, 135 signatures were required and 213 were accepted. Petitioners had 30 days to collect signatures, but took less than half that time.
Both men were elected last November and took office in January, and both have been accused of mismanagement of county funds and mistreatment of county officials. Bentley has also been accused of “sending residents texts with false information and blaming those messages on alcohol consumption.”
Bethany Miller filed the recall affidavit against Borer, alleging “mismanagement of county funds; spending money on an outside attorney after a State Patrol investigation. Misappropriation of taxpayer dollars for unnecessary expenses, including poorly timed projects. Mistreatment of elected officials, including waging public wars, refusing to allow them to speak and making unethical comments towards other officials.”
Borer’s response was, “All accusations against me are false; brought about by people with questionable motives. One commissioner cannot make financial, policy or other decisions alone. There is discussion on the topics and majority vote rules. The chairman is responsible for running orderly meetings and following the open meeting laws, all elected officials need to follow this law.”
Jack Allemang filed the recall affidavit against Bentley, alleging “mismanagement of county funds; spending money on an outside attorney after a State Patrol investigation. Misappropriation of taxpayer dollars for unnecessary expenses, including poorly timed projects. Sending residents texts with false information and blaming those messages on alcohol consumption. Mistreatment of elected officials, including waging public wars, refusing to allow them to speak and making unethical comments toward other officials.”
Bentley’s response was, “All allegations against me are false. No single commissioner makes any policy or financial decision, must always be majority vote. Investigation uncovered several thefts by county official; actually saved county thousands in back wages. This recall appears to be an attempt to undo recent election results, so by law three people: county clerk, treasurer and attorney can handpick new commissioners.”