After serving as a member of the Chattanooga City Council, Ron Littlefield was elected mayor in 2005. He was re-elected in 2009.
But with a vote by the Hamilton County Election Commission, Chattanoogans are faced with the prospect of a contentious August 2012 recall election for Mayor Littlefield.
On Thursday, the election commission voted to certify a recall petition.
That came in response to a dismissal by the state Court of Appeals of Mr. Littlefield's effort to stop the recall. At issue has been the number of signatures required on the petition.
Will the long-simmering recall vote actually take place? That is uncertain. The mayor is looking at legal avenues to prevent it. And considering the many stops and starts on the path that supporters of the recall have followed in getting to this point, it would seem to be anyone's guess whether the expected legal challenges will succeed.
The election commission was split, with two commissioners voting to certify the recall petition, one voting against it and one abstaining.
Supporters of the mayor believe the election commission should have waited until there is resolution of a petition by the mayor for a rehearing by the appellate court.
Backers of the recall effort are pleased the process is moving forward.
But recall attempts should be based on things such as clear and significant violations of the law, not on policy differences. We have not agreed with every decision the mayor has made, but we are concerned about the use of a recall to settle what seem to be policy disputes. Political differences are best settled in public debate and through the normal election process.
Unfortunately, Chattanooga appears to be on course for a new chapter in this painfully divisive battle in the coming months.