POCATELLO, Idaho - The 75-day, statewide attempt to recall Idaho Superintendent Tom Luna from office has failed. The recall needed more than 158,000 signatures for the state to hold a special election this August, but it fell tens of thousands short.
The Associated Press has reported only 50,000 signatures were gathered, but local organizer Helen Avila said the Committee To Recall Tom Luna got that many just in Bannock County. Avila estimated there must have been nearly 100,000 from across the state.
Linda Plewa has been teaching second grade in Blackfoot for 28 years and she was one of the people who lent her signature to the effort. Budget cuts have cut reading and math workbooks from her classroom, and she points her finger at the Students Come First laws. That is why she wanted the recall to succeed.
"We just have to hope that things will turn around with the referendums. Maybe Mr. Luna will have a message sent to him that everybody doesn't like what he's done," Plewa said.
Luna sent his own message on Monday in response to the failure.
"Reforming education has never been about me; it's about giving our students more opportunities. Our focus and priority has been and will continue to be implementation of the laws," Luna said in a statement.
Local organizers Jim Allen and Helen Avila said even though the recall did not go through, the signatures still spoke.
"We couldn't put billboards up, we couldn't advertise. We just didn't have the funds. So everything we did was what we could pay for," Avila said.
"And make no mistake. We're not here whining and crying because it didn't happen. We wanted to send a message and I think we succeeded in doing that," Allen said.
Avila added: She is not opposed to starting up another recall.
Nancy Berto, who formed the Committee to Recall Tom Luna, spoke to a group in Boise on Monday. She said she is still proud of what the group has done.