More than 100 Harney County citizens rallied in support of Judge Steve Grasty Thursday, to demonstrate they’ll be voting 'no' on an effort to recall the judge.
Judge Grasty was a vocal critic of the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. His critics say he and other officials hindered the rights of citizens by disallowing militant leader Ammon Bundy to hold a meeting at the county fairgrounds during the occupation.
Grasty retires from office at the end of this year, even without
. He says he appreciates the community’s encouragement.
"There’s been a huge outpouring of support over the last few weeks," said Grasty. "A committee self-formed. This committee said 'hey—you’re going to run and we’re going to support you and help you.'"
Jeannette Vinson is a nail technician in Burns who helped organize the rally. She said the recall effort has further divided the community. "It had calmed down, and when they put out this recall petition I think that people started getting angry again," said Vinson. "It was mellow for a while. It just stirred everything up again.
Grasty said he respects the right of citizens to organize a recall effort.
"It’s there for a purpose. I’m not sure I agree that this is the right purpose," Grasty said. "But now the people of Harney County get a chance to make the decision."
In an earlier interview with OPB, Grasty said he wasn't sure the recall effort was worth the $7,500 cost to taxpayers.
The recall vote in Harney County is June 28th. Voters will receive ballots in the mail as early as next week.