published Saturday, November 19th, 2011

Mayor Ron Littlefield might sit out recall election

by Cliff Hightower
Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield, shown speaking at a tourism press conference in August, says he may choose not to run if a recall election takes place in August.
Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield, shown speaking at a tourism press conference in August, says he may choose not to run if a recall election takes place in August.
Photo by John Rawlston.
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Jan. 6, 2012

Candidates can pick up qualifying petitions

April 5, 2012

Deadline for petitions

Aug. 2, 2012

Recall election for Chattanooga mayor

Source: Hamilton County Election Commission

Should Mayor Littlefield run in a recall election?

Mayor Ron Littlefield may choose not to run if a recall election takes place in August.

"I don't know yet," Littlefield said Friday. "For seven months? Why would I put my family through all this for a seven-month term?"

Just weeks ago, the two-term Chattanooga mayor was moving into his last 16 months in office, pushing for metropolitan government or some type of city-county consolidation that he hoped to make the legacy of his administration.

Now a recall effort that seemed all but dead threatens to cut short his term and give him a very different kind of legacy.

At this point, an election for Chattanooga mayor has been scheduled by the Hamilton County Election Commission for Aug. 2, 2012.

Even if he ran in and won an August election, Littlefield is term-limited and could not be a candidate in the regular election in March 2013.

Littlefield said he has yet to make a decision. But he said some factors could sway him. A field offering strong potential leaders for the city could deter him from running, he said.

"If I see someone who is a good leader, it would be a consideration," he said.

Though the election commission certified the recall petition and set an election date, other action may intervene. Littlefield has asked the state Court of Appeals to reconsider a recent decision that allowed the election commission to act.

He also could ask the Tennessee Supreme Court whether a recall election should be held.

Last year, Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield, the Chattanooga Tea Party and Chattanooga Organized for Action began the movement to oust Littlefield. They cited gang violence, property tax and stormwater rate increases and a perception of corruption within City Hall as reasons.

The groups gathered more than 15,000 signatures, and 9,600 were certified. The City Charter states that around 9,000 signatures were needed for a recall election.

But part of Littlefield's argument has been that state law should dictate the number of signatures required. State law calls for a much higher threshold, more than 15,000 valid signatures.


Some possible candidates who have expressed interest in the March 2013 mayoral election said Friday they still are considering whether they would run if there's an election in August 2012.

Whoever wins in August -- except Littlefield -- would have to run again in March 2013.

Who should be Chattanooga's next mayor?

People who have expressed interest include Pam Ladd, City Council chairwoman; County Commissioner Warren Mackey; Kim White, president and CEO of RiverCity Co.; Roger Tuder, executive director for the Associated General Contractors of East Tennessee; local businessman Greg Vital; and Jim Folkner, head of Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield. Todd Womack, chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., also has been mentioned as a possible candidate.

Ladd said Friday she would "absolutely" consider a run in August, regardless of what Littlefield does.

Meanwhile, the council is considering seeking legal advice as to whether Littlefield should leave office immediately. Based upon an interpretation of the City Charter, Ladd could be installed as temporary mayor until the recall election.

Ladd stressed Friday that any votes she makes would not be for her own advantage and she will recuse herself from votes regarding an ouster if there appears to be a conflict of interest.

She said there are advantages to running in August.

"You get your name out there," she said. "It shows you are interested in public service."

She said the recall election puts more pressure on potential candidates to get their names out if they do decide to run.

"It's time to make a decision," she said.

Mackey said he had expected a March 2013 election and still is weighing his decision.

"It caught everyone off guard and has sped up everyone's time schedule," he said.

White said she would not run in August if Littlefield does. She said the possibility of a recall election sends a negative message about Chattanooga to those who live outside the city. White said there is no doubt the election commission's decision, along with any subsequent legal wrangling, provides a slew of considerations for candidates.

Tuder said he is considering the options.

"To make the decision in a day, I don't think it would do the position justice," he said.

Vital, president and CEO of Independent Healthcare Properties, said he has to weigh family and business considerations before stepping into a race. But moving the election to August would not deter him, he said.

"The recall is turning into a fiasco, an expense and creating a void of leadership in the city, and it's got me majorly concerned," he said.

Folkner, who is being considered for a position as Red Bank city manager, also said he is weighing his decision.

Womack said court decisions need to be made.

"With so much uncertainty right now, I don't think it would be appropriate for me to make a lot of comments," he said.


To complicate things even more, it might take two elections in August and two more in March to settle finally on a mayor.

Candidates for city office must earn 50 percent of the vote plus one to win outright. If no candidate in August hits that mark, a runoff election would have to be held within 30 days, said Charlotte Mullis-Morgan, administrator of elections.

"This is such a rarity," Mullis-Morgan said, referring to the recall election. "This has never happened before."

Then the whole thing could happen again in March.

But the power of incumbency, even for seven months, would have an effect on the March race, said Dr. Richard Wilson, a political science professor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

"They would have seven months of publicity," he said.

He said only one thing now can derail the train of events.

"There's going to be an election unless a judge or a panel of judges decides to issue an injunction," he said.

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MasterChefLen said...

As much as Mayor Ron Littlefield tries to defer blame for this mess, he has himself, and himself only to blame.

November 20, 2011 at 12:22 a.m.
memphisexile said...

You people are making Memphis politics not look so bad. That truly makes me sad for my hometown.

November 20, 2011 at 1:04 a.m.
01centare said...

Chattanooga gives the appearance of being full of hateful, bitter and vengeful citizens. Then throw in the stupids with no brains who will sign their name to anything for added measure, and you have the perfect storm.

For Folkner this was a show for who's got the bigger balls. Which he obviously doesn't have, because he had to gather as many as he could standing behind him in order to feel powerful enough to go after the mayor.

I'm not alone when I say I will never return to Chattanooga again. Not even for a short visit. Just too many ignorant and bitter people living there.

November 20, 2011 at 1:11 a.m.
fairmon said...

It would be ignorant of voters to support any current council member. The best thing would be a competent, capable willing business owner or manager but most of them are too smart to be involved in this political mess.

November 20, 2011 at 2:24 a.m.
stuartfjames said...

On the one side you have a recall group pushing for the recall, regardless of the cost, regardless of the consequences. On the other side, you have a mayor dug in against the recall willing to take the entire process back to court to stop election from happening. Caught in the middle, the voters & the tax payers.

At the heart of all of this are the recall petitions. The central question is whether the petitions meet the requirements of the law? The recall group does not appear interested in that answer, it is pushing forward after a technical win on appeal. The recall effort is pushing forward with a recall in August of 2012, an election that may be subject to legal challenges, an election that is void if the petitions are illegal. Moroever, one of the recall leaders himself, Jim Folkner, is considering a run for Mayor.

Mayor Littlefield promises a continued legal challenge before the August 2012 recall election. The recall group promises to push forward with the recall election regardless of the Mayor's legal challenenge. The recall effort moves forward knowing that a new election for mayor will occur in April of 2013. The recall effort moves forward knowing the August 2012 election may be subject to legal challenge with a potential that the recall may be declared invalid. Moreover, if a recall happens in August 2012 there is no guarantee of no runoff, so you have two 2012 elections. Then, wait...there will be an election in 2013 with the potential of another runoff. Therefore, there is a potential of four elections for Mayor. Caught in the middle are the voters and the taxpayers.

Does anyone care about voter fatique? Does anyone care about the cost to the taxpayer, to the voter? Does anyone care about Chattanooga's image, and how this makes the city look?

If the petitions are invalid, then the recall is invalid. If the petitions are invalid and the recall election occurs, the recall election is invalid.

The Court of Appeals ruled the lower court had no jurisdiction but never ruled on the validity of the petitions-the recall effort won on a technicality without getting the legal questions answered. Therefore, why doesn't the recall effort want to know if the petitions are valid under the law? Why doesnt the recall effort want answers before moving forward with the election? Is it because Mr Folkner is placing his political interests ahead of those of the voter?

Regardless of your position, there is only one thing that is for certain--with the current situation surrounding the recall election no one seems to care that the voters and the taxpayers are caught in the middle.

A recall is a valid tool use to remove elected representatives from office for committing acts of mis or malfeasance. Under the current circumstances this process is being discredited due to an apparent blind mission for political gain.

...and the voters and the taxpayers are caught in the middle.

November 20, 2011 at 10:13 a.m.
jesse said...

actually what it looks like to me is "DEMOCRACY IN ACTION!"

i just wish they had put 4 or 5 more names on the petition!!

November 20, 2011 at 10:27 a.m.
lightkeeper said...

I'am almost ashamed to say I'am from Chattanooga-Hamilton Co. The way the citizens of Hamilton County act when it comes to growth and prosperity for all citizens in the area make us look like a bunch of evil, ignorant, country hicks to people from the outside. Any Mayor or anybody who backs urban growth or real changes thats needed for this backward county becomes public enemy 1. Here we have a God given chance to become the metropolitan area we so long desired and because Ron Littlefield is not dancing to the tea party music and trying to make Chattanooga area grow, you want to get rid of him which by the way is waste of taxpayer money. Ron Littlefield did what any mayor in office should do. The city was being sued because others before him did not act on the stormwater situation. There's major developement over the horizen and if we don't act now, we'll end up worst than Atlanta's urban sprawl. Hamilton County is a Metro county wheather anyone likes it or not, now is the time to work together, not against each other. A HOUSE DIVIDED CANNOT STAND. There's a church on every corner from St.Elmo to Sale Creek and this is all you get out of it?? ALWAYS NEGATIVE, NEGATIVE, NEGATIVE and say your're christians!

November 20, 2011 at 11:35 a.m.
328Kwebsite said...

The city charter says that a recall election must take place between 90 and 120 days after the City Council certifies a mayoral recall. Why is the election taking place in August? It's required by law long before then.

You cannot install an interim mayor for nine months.

The interim mayor, like all mayors, is granted sweeping powers to make departmental changes. Watch out as the Metro Payoff Club of wealthy landowners and their toadies who appointed themselves to the County Mayor's seat now exploit this opportunity to write themselves another paycheck by institutionalizing corruption.

Demand audits now. Demand elections in 90 to 120 days, as the law says. Do not give them three financial quarters to screw you over. They are stealing your money to finance their political party for the upcoming elections. They have been doing this kind of thing all year. Stop them now with an election. Insist on it.

Read the law and get it right. It doesn't take a team of lawyers for everyone to read five pages of words written on the 10th grade level. The city charter is clear: elections are required this spring.

Watch carefully and ask yourself why and how someone would profit by having an interim mayor in place for nine months. They do not care that everyone in the city wants Littlefield and his cronies gone. They will use him like a pawn.

Remember when Mayor Corker said he was "improving" the traffic patterns for the benefit of city residents? What was it really for? Putting money in his pocket with property value re-assessments based on changes in traffic patterns. It got him the money to get him more power which will bring him more money.

Watch carefully as Chattanooga's politicos exploit the removal of Littlefield just as they did with self-appointing County Mayor Coppinger. Once again, it's a no-election end run at the money.

By the time the people get control, the place will be bankrupt. Littlefield already milked us for $10 million dollars by requiring lies to be built into the budget by redefining "liability." We may be poor, but we are not stupid. We know we are being exploited.

Put a stop to this nonsense by insisting on immediate public audits of all departments and an election to replace the mayor, as the law says, between 90 and 120 days of recall certification.

Stop letting them lie to you. Get your government back.

November 20, 2011 at 1:39 p.m.
328Kwebsite said...

When you click on those links to look up the law, ask yourself: where is your $328,000 website?

November 20, 2011 at 2:02 p.m.
Legend said...

Moroever, one of the recall leaders himself, Jim Folkner, is considering a run for Mayor.

Wouldn't that be considered a conflict of interest? Illegal, perhaps? It could give the appearance that Folkner went after the mayor in order to serve his own interest and take his place. Which to many, it does appear Folkner has some type personal grudge against the mayor. Maybe something that happened way back in high school? The mayor bloodied his nose or something?

November 20, 2011 at 2:18 p.m.
Legend said...

328website said...They do not care that everyone in the city wants Littlefield and his cronies gone.

Everyone? You know that for a fact, of course.

November 20, 2011 at 2:20 p.m.
Emersization said...

Since the voters did such a good job taking care of Littlefield (D,R = RINO), there is another elected official that must be addressed -- Obama (D)! Get on the CainTrain and make a difference in your your children's and grandchildren's future today. Be Informed, Stay Inspired, and Get Involved!

November 20, 2011 at 2:22 p.m.
Emersization said...

April, folks on the Cain Train call switcharoo party candidates RINOS, for example: Mitt Romney. Moderates cannot be trusted!

November 20, 2011 at 2:34 p.m.
Salsa said...

Typical Littlefield sulking and pouting but getting rid of him 7 months early can only be counted as a blessing.

November 20, 2011 at 4:03 p.m.
MountainJoe said...

Forget the train of Cain, sexual harasser and former FED official. Thwart the RINOs by supporting Ron Paul!

November 20, 2011 at 7:28 p.m.
MountainJoe said...

Cain is a faker like Littlefield. Ron Paul is the real deal!

November 20, 2011 at 7:29 p.m.
Haiku said...

MountainJoe said... Ron Paul is the real deal!

You're wouldn't be talking about the same just let'em die! Ron Paul, when referring to the uninsured sick, would you?

November 20, 2011 at 9:04 p.m.
onetinsoldier said...

DRAMA that ends with one anus replacing another.

November 20, 2011 at 10:07 p.m.
fairmon said...

Haiku said... MountainJoe said... Ron Paul is the real deal!

You're wouldn't be talking about the same just let'em die! Ron Paul, when referring to the uninsured sick, would you?

I don't anticipate Ron Paul being nominated nor do I plan to vote for him. However, Ron Paul didn't say that, some media interpreted his response to satisfy their liberal bias. Ron Paul's position is those are state issues as provided for by the constitution. He advocates reducing the federal government to those powers enumerated to it in the constitution making it closer to a manageable entity. His understanding of and willingness to address the economic dilemma plus his TV image will prevent any chance of being nominated.

November 20, 2011 at 11:57 p.m.
fedup350 said...

01centare said "I will never return to chattanooga again".

Fedup350 says "yay!!!"

November 21, 2011 at 10:15 a.m.
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