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Penny Podell Faces Recall

by Sonya Jongsma Knauss

County Supervisor Penny Podell, who represents Riverwest and the East Side in county government, has been campaigning to convince constituents that they should continue to support her, despite her voting for the pay increase that resulted in County Executive Tom Ament stepping down. “We did make a mistake,” she said without hesitation. “I’m 100 percent responsible for my vote [for supervisor pay increases, pension enhancement, and retirement sick leave payouts] . . . I won’t blame anyone else, but I will do all I can to restore public trust and be part of the solution.” In an interview February at the Riverwest Currents benefit, Podell said none of the supervisors would have voted the way they did if they had had the information they have today. “I personally have waived any benefit I would have received to express how sorry I am,” Podell said. She hopes her constituents can accept her apology and support her effort to restore public confidence. As the Currents went to press, organizers had gathered more than half of the 3,615 signatures needed to force a recall election. Home remodeler James Larson and real estate broker Carole Wehner have said they would announce their candidacy for the Third District position if the recall drive is successful. “If there is an election, I ask for a public vote of confidence . . . I will never make that mistake again,” Podell said referring to her vote. One positive thing that has come out of the events of past months, she says, is that she’s been more in touch with constituents than ever before. “I have realized that a lot of people really do care about county government,” she said. If she is able to stay in office or get re-elected, Podell said she would support a bike trail in Riverwest from Gordon Park to North Avenue, even though state budget cutbacks may mean matching funds will be harder to come by. Riverwest Currents – Volume 1 – Issue 2 – March 2002
by Sonya Jongsma Knauss