Pawhuska residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of retaining their city councilors Tuesday.
Across the four propositions in a recall election, about 67% of voters cast ballots against recall. Councilors John Brazee (Ward 4), Mark Buchanan (Ward 3), Rodger Milleson (at large) and Mayor Roger Taylor (Ward 1) were each on separate propositions asking whether they should be recalled from office.
Proponents petitioned for the recall during the fallout from Police Chief Nick Silva’s sudden termination by two city officials who later resigned. Silva was later rehired.
“That (the firing) happened on a Friday, and by Monday or Tuesday we had that solved,” Taylor said.
Former City Manager Larry Eulert and former Assistant City Manager Rex Wikel terminated Silva in late June. Silva previously told the Tulsa World that they told him they hadn’t liked the Police Department’s direction since Silva took over as chief in April, after Wikel’s promotion from police chief to assistant city manager.
The interim city manager, who replaced Eulert after he and Wikel resigned, reinstated Silva.
Taylor said the recall election “was a waste of money” and “should have never happened.”
In a previous interview with the Tulsa World, Taylor said he was caught off guard by Silva’s termination.
Ostensibly, Silva’s firing was the impetus for the petition and recall election. Recall organizers submitted about 130 signatures, of which a minimum of 108 needed to be valid.
Steve Holcombe, a former councilor, said he supported a recall after Silva’s termination. Holcombe said it could “create long-term change.”
“We would have had the opportunity for fresh air coming on the council, but the people have spoken otherwise,” he said.
He said he believed signature gathering for the petition, particularly at a city meeting, incentivized Silva’s reinstatement.
Oklahoma State Election Board unofficial results show that Taylor maintained his seat with 392 people, or 67.01%, voting no on recall and 193, or 32.99%, voting yes. Brazee maintained his seat with 407, or 69.57%, voting no and 178, or 30.43%, voting yes. Milleson maintained his position with 397, or 67.86%, voting no on recall and 188, or 32.14%, voting yes. Buchanan maintained his seat with 369, or 64.62%, voting no on recall and 202, or 35.38%, voting yes.