Organizers attempting to oust Mayor Ron Littlefield say they have enough signatures to start his recall.
If a required 9,000 or more recall signatures are verified as registered Chattanooga voters by the Hamilton County Election Commission, a special mayoral election will coincide with the Nov. 2 general election.
Littlefield would have the option of staying in office until the election, though he could resign if the recall is verified, said Charlotte Mullis-Morgan, Hamilton County's administrator of elections. She said that any recalled official has the option of running in special recall elections.
Chattanooga Organized for Action announced that more than 3,000 signatures will be turned in today to add to an estimated 6,700 already filed with the Hamilton County Election Commission.
Mullis-Morgan said unless a large amount of extra signatures, which are due by Aug. 30, are turned in that the recall totals would be confirmed by the middle of next week.
"We check every signature, we check every address, we make sure they're registered voters and we make sure they are who they say," she said.
Littlefield spokesman Richard Beeland said the mayor is waiting on the official totals before saying if he would run in a special election or not.
"We'll just have to wait and see how it plays out," he said.
Chris Brooks, a lead organizer for Chattanooga Organized for Action, said it's "inevitable" that some signatures will not be verified, which is why he and others are attempting to gather extra signatures before the deadline.
"Again and again and again, we find that the politicians in power, the people that we elect to represent us, are stonewalling citizens, groups who wish to participate in the process, and are circling the bandwagon to protect their own," he said.
Along with Brooks' group, the Chattanooga Tea Party and Citizens to Recall Ron Littlefield are spearheading recall efforts of not only Littlefield, but also City Council members Manuel Rico and Jack Benson.
For a recall on Rico, 450 signatures from verified voters in his district must be obtained, Mullis-Morgan said, adding for Benson, it will take 750. Required numbers are calculated from vote totals in the previous election, she said.
A "formal campaign" to accumulate those signatures was also announced Tuesday by organizers.
May's announcement of a 33 percent property tax increase, three open records requests that "took months," land deals among politicians and "overall corruption and lack of transparency" are among reasons Brooks cited for the recall efforts on Littlefield, Rico and Benson.
"(Rico and Benson) will be pretty easy to remove," Brooks said. "We're just focusing all our time on (Littlefield) right now."
Rico responded to the recall effort in an open letter Tuesday, calling recall organizers a "small, vocal minority of citizens in Chattanooga."
"I feel it is unfortunate that I must preserve my elected office and focus my time defending my actions to a few ... instead of doing what you, the voters, elected me to do - support the goals and needs of our district," the letter reads.
Last week, Rico said he would not seek re-election if recalled. But after an "outpouring of support and encouragement," he said will run in the case of a recall election.
Benson called the accusations against him "generic charges that could be against anybody in office." He said he also plans on running for re-election in the event of a recall.
"Oh, I enjoy campaigning," he said. "I'm looking forward to it if it does come down to that, getting out and meeting the people and seeing if they want me to represent them."
(For Immediate Release)
Senior Organizer for Chattanooga Organized for Action (COAlition)
Chattanooga Organized for Action (COA), a local grassroots community
organization, has gathered over 2,000 signatures in the last week
alone and together with the Chattanooga Tea Party and Citizens to
Recall Ron Littlefield we will be turning in over 3,000 signatures to
the Hamilton County Election Commission, located on Amnicola,
tomorrow, Wednesday August 18th, at 10 A.M.
This will mean that we have already exceeded the 9,387 signatures
necessary to Recall Ron Littlefield and will be in the process of
collecting the additional signatures needed to insure the win.
Petitions can be downloaded and further information can be found at
An Open Letter from Councilman Manny Rico
August 17, 2010
Dear Citizens of District 7:
Many of you may have heard of an effort by a small, vocal minority of
citizens in Chattanooga to recall me as your duly elected City
Councilman. While I recognize this is their right, I feel it is
unfortunate that I must preserve my elected office and focus my time
defending my actions to a few (most of which do not even live within the
boundaries of the City of Chattanooga, much less District 7) instead of
doing what you, the voters, elected me to do - support the goals and
needs of our district.
Last week, I announced that I would not seek re-election if recalled.
However, since that time, I have experienced a tremendous ground swell
of support from personal visits and phone calls to emails, cards, and
letters. These offerings of support came not only from the wonderful
citizens of District 7, but from the City of Chattanooga as a whole.
Because of this outpouring of support and encouragement, I have realized
that those I represent are proud of the job I am doing and strongly wish
for me to continue. If recalled, I WILL seek re-election and I WILL
fight to defend my actions as your duly elected representative on the
Chattanooga City Council.
The residents of District 7 have spoken loud and clear. They will not be
bullied into signing petitions under false pretenses and chased about
their neighborhoods by Georgia residents and teenagers hired to walk
aimlessly around town searching for those who will believe their
misleading facts. I will not shy away from the lies, and superficial
near-supremacist actions of this small, volatile minority of citizens
who seek to impose their views on the masses by widespread assimilation
of illegitimate facts and lies.
The problems facing our great city are not unusual and they are not
unique. They call for elected officials to look at the whole picture and
vote for what is right and what is in the best interest of all of
Chattanooga's citizens, not just a select few. This year, more than
ever, our city has experienced decreased revenues, escalating costs,
shortages of police and fire fighters, reduced recreation hours for
inner city youth, and staunch public criticism. The city has not had a
tax increase since 2001 and we have done much with very little.
For over five years, I have supported District 7 as your councilman and
was reelected by a strong majority. You elected me to do the right
thing, even when it is not the most popular. That is what I have done.
As a resident and small business owner in District 7, I understand the
unique issues that affect our community. Doing the right thing means not
sitting idly by and legislating on issues in order to be re-elected. You
elected me to represent your best interests. That is what I have done
and what I will continue to do.
In the future, when people come up to you and ask you to sign your name
on a petition to oust someone they didn't even have the right to elect,
please do not be fooled by their misleading and untruthful facts they
wish to distort. If you have questions and want to know the real facts,
the real answers, please call or visit with me. I have always maintained
an open-door, open-business, and open-phone policy. I am more than
willing to listen.
It is an honor and privilege to serve you. I hope you will continue to
support me as I work for the betterment of District 7. If I may be of
any assistance, please feel free to contact me any time, day or night,
at 423-425-7856 or email@example.com .
Chattanooga City Councilman, District 7
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