Attorney pleads Chattanooga City Councilman Chris Anderson's case

Attorney pleads Chattanooga City Councilman Chris Anderson's case

February 11th, 2014 by David Cobb in Local Regional News

POLL: Should Chris Anderson be recalled?

Chris Anderson

Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press.

Document: Chris Anderson Recall Petition

A citizen's petition to recall Chattanooga City Councilman Chris Anderson.

A letter dated Monday addressed to the Hamilton County Election Commission from Chris Anderson's attorney denounces a recall effort directed at Anderson as unconstitutional and discriminatory.

Anderson represents District 7 and is the city's first openly gay councilman.

The Election Commission is set to review the latest draft of the recall petition on Thursday, and the letter requests that Tommy Crangle, one of five election commissioners, remove himself from discussion of the matter.

Most in favor of the recall have said their effort hinges on Anderson's job performance, but Anderson's attorney Stuart James argues in the letter that the recall petition is unconstitutional because it uses state mechanisms to achieve a discriminatory purpose. The letter cites comments made to local media by citizens referencing what they perceive as Anderson's agenda to boost homosexuality and likens the petition to the recall of black elected officials in the 1960s because of skin color.

Even if based on Anderson's job performance, the recall effort is invalid, the letter argues.

"If he's not doing a good job as the petition seemingly suggests, isn't that what the regularly scheduled election is for?" states the 10-page document.

The letter also argues the recall petition is an improper form because it originally listed local tea party group Citizens for Government Accountability and Transparency as the entity to mail or email completed petitions to without the permission of CGAT.

But as long as the form is proper when the Election Commission reviews it Thursday, Crangle said the Commission will be left with little option but to allow the recall effort to continue to the signature stage.

James argues that Crangle's candidacy for the Tennessee District 27 seat that covers areas represented by Anderson creates an appearance of impropriety and that previous statements from Crangle regarding benefits for domestic partners make him biased in evaluating the recall petition.

Crangle, however is not planning to step down.

"I'm a little bit surprised," Crangle said of the request for his excuse before offering a grim outlook for the possibility of the Election Commission finding reason to halt the petition.

"We just abide by the law in these cases," Crangle said, citing a recall provision in the Chattanooga charter. "If there is another option, I do not know what that would be."

James, the attorney, picked up qualifying papers last month to run for Hamilton County Circuit Judge.

Anderson and James did not immediately return phone calls Monday.

Contact David Cobb at dcobb@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6731.