published Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Chattanooga City Councilman Chris Anderson recall effort slow as deadline nears

Chris Anderson
Chris Anderson
Photo by Tim Barber /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
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Should Chris Anderson be recalled?

Backers of an effort to oust Chattanooga City Councilman Chris Anderson have 19 days to collect 1,454 more signatures on a petition to force a recall of the first-term councilman.

Hamilton County Election Commission officials said the recall group has turned in about 300 signatures. However, a couple of pages of those signatures were written in the same handwriting. Only 146 signatures are valid, Commission Chairman Mike Walden said.

That's 9 percent of the 1,600 signatures needed from residents of District 7 for the recall to move ahead.

The deadline for the recall petition is April 9.

Election Commission members, meeting Wednesday, discussed a lawsuit Anderson filed in response to the recall effort. The recall campaign, spearheaded by Charles Wysong, claims that Anderson should be unseated because he has failed to represent his constituents' interests. Wysong is not a resident of District 7, which includes Alton Park, St. Elmo, Piney Woods, East Lake and Cedar Hill.

Anderson, the city's first openly gay elected official, claims that the recall is because of his sexual orientation, and is therefore discriminatory and unconstitutional.

Primary ballot OK'D

Election commissioners also unanimously approved the ballot for the May 6 primaries, which will include a candidate who says he has pulled out of the race for a judgeship.

Attorney Stuart James, the only Democrat to qualify to run in the Hamilton County Circuit Court race and Anderson's lawyer in the lawsuit, e-mailed election commission officials that he would "suspend" his campaign for the court seat.

James' reasoning for the suspension is that, "as a political realist" he knows the odds are against him "winning a race that has little public interest," he wrote in a Facebook post on March 7.

However, because he did not indicate his intent to withdraw from the race to the commission by the Feb. 27 withdrawal deadline, James will remain on the May primary ballot.

Contact staff writer Alex Harris at aharris@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592.

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