Broken campaign promise sparks pro-grow angst
COLUMBIA, Mo 10/22/14 (Beat Byte) -- First Ward Councilwoman Ginny Chadwick's public support for the Opus student apartment brought the first rumblings of a recall. Now, her vote Monday night against decriminalizing marijuana micro-growing may have kicked off the first serious effort to replace her.
With the Twitter hashtag #RecallChadwick, Columbia marijuana legalization activist Eapen Thampy is leading a recall effort that includes pro-marijuana, anti-Opus, civil rights, and anti-Nanny State types who have chafed under Chadwick's calls for more state control of Average Joe property coupled with less state control of developer property.Her earlier call to ban alcohol at Douglass Park -- a historically black social space -- brought howls of protest from Libertarians, pro-liberty activists, and contemporary Columbia civil rights leaders.
In search of 249 signatures -- 30% of the 827 votes cast in April's First Ward Council election -- the pro-grow lobby, which includes the Mizzou chapters of NORML and Students for Sensible Drug Policy, cites strong evidence against Chadwick.
She made a public campaign promise in March to support further decriminilzation. A 2004 Columbia ordinance decriminalized possession of 35 grams of marijuana; Monday night's bill would have decriminalized growing two plants.The question Chadwick took at the March NAACP forum asked if she would support a pro-grow ordinance reducing penalties for up to six marijuana plants. "All three candidates said they would support a city ordinance to lower penalties," the Columbia Daily Tribune reported.
"I think as the city of Columbia, we are innovators and initiators in many things coming to our state, and we are in a great position to support something other states are taking initiative to support," Chadwick told the audience.
History suggests the recall effort faces an uphill fight, with only one successful effort in decades: 5th Ward Councilman Chester Edwards was recalled in 1990 over a zoning issue.
Three recall efforts have failed in recent years, two in the First Ward. After sickness compromised Almeta Crayton's ability to represent the Ward, at least three groups mobilized to oust her. A move to remove Fred Schmidt followed a few years later. 4th Ward Councilman Darryl Dudley was targeted with recall in 2011, after he pushed a gerrymandering plan that would have reduced so-called "progressive" Council representation.
Finding a viable replacement may not be easy, either. Ms. Chadwick won the race almost by default, after opponent Tyree Byndom declared he would not campaign for religious reasons. The Ward has traditionally suffered from lack of interest in political doings.
Chadwick, meanwhile, still supports marijuana decrimialization, she told the Missourian, but problems enforcing the new measure on the Mizzou campus -- part of her Ward -- prompted the changed vote. With her shift, the Council voted 4-3 against the measure.
"Ginny Chadwick didn't have the choice to legalize marijuana last night; she merely had the choice to lessen municipal penalties," Thampy wrote on the recall group's Facebook page. "This decision harms all Americans because the demand for marijuana makes it profitable for violent foreign cartels to violate our border. Columbia could have led the way for Missouri, but Ginny Chadwick failed all of us -- and broke her word to her constituents."
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