Drive to recall Mayor Littlefield poses risks

Drive to recall Mayor Littlefield poses risks

January 6th, 2012 in Opinion Free Press

We do not always agree with Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield -- on issues such as annexation, for example. At other times, we do agree with him. (See editorial below.)

And we certainly do not think anyone need apologize for speaking up in either support or opposition to the mayor's policies. That is at the heart of our First Amendment. It is through the back and forth of political and other discourse that free societies try to reach consensus or at least maintain peaceful disagreement.

But we do not think the ongoing effort to recall the mayor is justified. So far as we can tell, the recall was prompted primarily by political differences. We have seen no evidence of criminal wrongdoing by the mayor, nor any kind of grossly unethical behavior that might warrant a recall.

The best course of action for the mayor's opponents would be to state their objections to his policies clearly, urge him to change those policies, and then support in the next regular election a candidate who they believe offers sound ideas.

Yet the recall effort has ground on through the courts and the court of public opinion for a long time now, with a recall election tentatively set for August. (Further court rulings between now and then may alter that.)

Notably, nearly a dozen local business leaders recently penned a letter to the Times Free Press urging the end of the recall effort -- not necessarily because they all approve of all of Littlefield's policies, but because of the reputation for discord with which the recall may saddle the city. Political stability is one factor that economic development prospects may consider when they are deciding where to locate a new facility, and a reputation for bitter dissension could harm business recruitment -- and thus job creation.

Again, we do not fault anyone for expressing forthrightly an opinion on the mayor or any other elected official. But the decision to pursue a recall election over what appear to be political disputes may eventually be cause for regret.