Group submits petition to recall councilmember Nauser

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COLUMBIA - Petitioners submitted signatures to the Columbia City Clerk Monday in an attempt to recall 5th ward councilmember Laura Nauser.

The Columbians for a Responsible Government collected 416 signatures since February. Taylor Burks, a member of the committee, said the petition was in response to Nauser bringing up a transmission line proposal that he said was settled in 2013.

In 2013, the council voted for a transmission line route known as Option A. As of December, the city had committed more than $7 million to the project. Nauser told the council in January that she would consider an alternative route. 

"Three years ago, city council went through a year's long process to determine what the best option is for the transmission route," Burks said. "They chose Option A in 2013, and three years later we're having this conversation again about where these power lines should be."

Nauser said she was speaking for her constituents when she brought the issue to the council again earlier this year.

"I have never supported Option A. The only thing I did was facilitate a group of people in the community in the 5th ward who wanted to have their voices re-heard on the issue," Nauser said. "All I did was introduce that to the city council, and the city council unanimously voted to have it heard again."

The council held a special public hearing in January to allow residents to voice concerns with or support of the route. Afterward, the council voted to not proceed with Option A.

"We feel it's been a wasteful exercise for her to bring this up again," Burks said.

Nauser said she voted against the option in 2013 and 2016. She said she brought it up to the council this year to give her constituents a voice, but she said she doesn't support the route.

"I firmly believe that the option to put in such infrastructure should impact the fewest people and the fewest properties," Nauser said.

Burks also said the petition addresses concerns the group has with the fiscal management of the city.

"It's a concern that she's brought this up again after we spent $7 million," Burks said. "These are fiscally conservative voters being impacted by this. The majority of people who signed this petition said they are fiscally conservative."

Burks said once the city clerk validates the signatures, the option to recall Nauser as councilmember could be on the August ballot.