Voters in Ohio Township recall trustee

A Sedgwick County township trustee says she will look at all of her options after voters recalled her this week.

The petition to recall Ohio Township trustee Cristine Watson said Watson moved township funds into an account that only she had access to, denying the township treasurer the ability to pay bills.

State law sets out three grounds for recall — conviction of a felony, misconduct in office and failure to perform duties.

Deputy District Attorney Ann Swegle said in a March 26 letter to Election Commissioner Bill Gale that she had reviewed four petitions seeking to recall Watson.

"It is my opinion that the fourth petition does state sufficient grounds for recall as required by law," Swegle said.

She said the fact that Watson moved township funds "can reasonably be construed to allege misconduct in office."

Watson called the recall bogus and said the township's treasurer "was always capable of paying bills."

Treasurer Jim Simon said that was not the case.

When he learned that an account had been opened in Watson's name and Ohio Township's, he met with the bank soon after, he said. For a while, Sedgwick County took over the account until the matter was resolved, he said.

Watson said she opened a second account under the name of Ohio Township. She was in the process of adding the treasurer's name to the account, she said, and the treasurer was able to access the original account in the meantime.

"No account was ever closed," she said.

Simon said no one at the bank ever told him there was an effort to put him on the account. He said he didn't hear anything about Watson adding him to the signature card until a week or so ago.

He questioned why Watson would bother opening an account only in her name if she truly intended to add him.

"What would be the point?" he asked.

On Tuesday, 194 township residents voted to recall Watson; 87 voted against doing so.

Watson has been township trustee since 2008. She served as the clerk from 2006 to 2008.

Township politics often are heated.

District Attorney's Office spokeswoman Georgia Cole said numerous complaints had been filed with the office regarding Ohio Township, not all involving Watson.

Gale said that after results are certified Monday, the trustee position will become vacant. The County Commission will then appoint someone as trustee.