Effort to recall Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield rolls on

Effort to recall Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield rolls on

May 4th, 2012 by Cliff Hightower in Local Regional News

Mayor Ron Littlefield speaks during a March 29 press conference at City Hall.

Mayor Ron Littlefield speaks during a March 29...

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

POLL: Do you support recalling Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield?

Despite a rapidly diminishing timeline, groups trying to oust Mayor Ron Littlefield continue their fight.

Jim Folkner with Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield and two other members filed a brief last week with the Tennessee Court of Appeals asking for an expedited hearing.

Folkner said he thinks there still could be a recall election.

"They can order it," he said. "Time hasn't run out."

The recall group is asking for an answer by June 1.

But with the city election set for March 2013, the chance to hold a recall election is getting slimmer. A recall vote typically is held in conjunction with a regularly scheduled election, and only two elections will be held during that time -- the August state primary and the November general election.

Hal North, attorney for Littlefield, said he thinks it's "silly" to keep fighting the recall battle because the mayor will be gone in less than a year.

He also said he is unsure if it is too late for a recall election.

"I guess it's not if they get it expedited," he said.

The attempt to recall Littlefield began two years ago when three groups -- Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield, Chattanooga Organized for Action and the Chattanooga Tea Party -- started a petition drive. The groups gathered enough signatures for a recall under the City Charter, but questions were raised whether it was enough under state law.

The issue has been mired in court for the last two years. Last February, Circuit Court Judge Jeff Hollingsworth, who ruled on the issue once before, threw out the case and stopped a potential recall election set for August.

Folkner, along with group members Charlie Wysong and Darrell Silvey, argue in their brief that Circuit Court should not have heard the case and that Hollingsworth should have recused himself because he was a former employee of Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel, the firm that represents Littlefield.

They also argue that the City Charter applies and not the state code, which would give the group enough petitions to force an election.

But North wrote in response that Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield followed improper court procedures when asking for an expedited hearing and doesn't have the right to appeal for a recall anyway.

North states in the brief that the recall groups intervened in the case only on a question of whether the state law is constitutional, not on a recall election.

The brief states that if the appeals court hears the case it should rule only on the constitutionality question.

Charlotte Mullis-Morgan, administrator of the Hamilton County Election Commission, said it is almost impossible to have a recall election in August because the ballots are being printed in mid-May.

"There's no way to get it on the ballot by May 16," she said. "I don't see the court working that fast."