CARROLLTON — Amid a pandemic when door-to-door canvassing would be difficult, Dan Gawedzinki set up shop in a small auto lot. He pulled down the tailgate of his truck and used it as a desk for his outdoor office late Friday afternoon as people leave for work.
With a hand-colored sign, “Recall CCAD Board,” facing Mason Street in Carrollton, cars and trucks pulled in. Most stay in their vehicles as Gawedzinki provides curbside service on recall petitions for Carroll County Ambulance District board members Dottie Standley and Caren Bittiker. But before they sign, he first asks of their voter registration status and in what ward they vote, many times pulling out a district map to help those who weren’t quite sure.
“You guys are front line,” one man says who signed the petition.
Gawedzinki, who worked 26 years at CCAD, smiles.
“The town is being supportive. They’re scared and they want to get this fixed,” he says. “They like their local people and families.”
At a well-attended CCAD board meeting on Sept. 10, Gawedzinski threw down the gauntlet to three of the six CCAD board members — a notice to recall their positions just prior to the meeting. The petition alleges the Standley, Bittiker and Margaret Wheeler contributed to the loss of 24-hour paramedic care to Carroll County residents, contributed to a “public panic” due to the situation and fail to have state-required board training, according to wording in the petition.
All three provided this response to the allegations to the county clerk, which is circulated in the petition. It states:
- The compromise of ALS 24 hours, seven days a week coverage is the result of a statewide shortage of paramedics and necessary personnel actions, and not the result of any board malfeasance in office.
- They have had the helpful expression of concern but see no public panic.
- Board training is mandatory only for those boards that have paid attendance fees. Therefore, the board remains in full compliance with state law.
Gawedzinski says he’s focusing on the two Carrollton districts before making a recall effort against Margaret Wheeler, who serves District V (Prairie, Trotter, Egypt and Cherry Valley). Her term expires April 2023.
So far, Gawedzinski says he has 70 percent of the signatures needed to place a recall on the ballot for CCAD Secretary Standley, who serves District VI (Carrollton wards 2 and 3). The gesture may be more symbolic as Standley’s term expires April 2021. Even in the biggest voting district, Gawedzinksi says he has more than half of the 260 signatures required for board president Bittiker’s recall. She serves District IV (Carrollton wards 1 and 4). Her term expires April 2022.
According to the Rules for Missouri Ambulance Districts manual, at least 25 percent of residents who voted in a gubernatorial election must sign the petition within a 180-day window. The election authority has 20 days to verify signatures. The petitioner has 10 additional days if the number falls short of the benchmark. Petitions that meet the requirement generate a certificate by the county clerk, which is sent to ambulance district board. After acknowledgement of the certificate, the county clerk schedules the election on a normal election day. Once the election has been scheduled, individuals — including those being recalled — can file for candidacy.