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Judge refuses to stop recall against Stevensville mayor

Brandon Dewey
Posted at 12:08 PM, Aug 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-14 21:54:41-04

HAMILTON — A Ravalli County District Court judge has refused to stop a recall campaign against Stevensville Mayor Brandon Dewey, saying the mayor's approval of a controversial computer service contract was "outside of the law and without legal authority."

Thursday's ruling by Judge Howard Recht was made on Dewey's multiple requests for injunctions, and a summary judgement, to stop the recall launched by Leanna Rodabaugh challenging the computer services deal Dewey signed last year.

The recall complains the mayor didn't have the authority to sign the contract without Town Council approval, and that citizens were denied their "constitutional rights to participate and know" the contract was being enacted outside of the bidding process. Dewey argued he had budgetary authority granted by the council and his execution of the contract was "legally justified".

However, in the 27-page ruling, Judge Recht said the mayor's "tortured interpretation" of Stevensville's Purchasing Policy was "unpersuasive" in proving what the judge calls a "disingenuous" argument that the mayor has the same purchasing authority as city department heads.

Recht said Dewey's decision to seek a "open it in private", and execute the contract "without notice or approval from the Town Council and outside a public meeting" was "acting outside of the law and without legal authority."

The legal question had delayed the recall election from happening this month, but the ruling sets the stage for the question to go before voters in November.