Effort to recall mayor may be gaining steam

Effort to recall mayor may be gaining steam

July 17th, 2010 by Cliff Hightower in Politics Local

Staff photo by Dan Henry Carl Brock, left, waves to supporters of www.recallron.com, a forum in favor of firing Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield, who gathered outside of the Hamilton County Election Commission on Friday.

An effort to unseat Mayor Ron Littlefield kicked into overdrive Friday as petitioners began setting up booths at early voting sites.

"People are dissatisfied with the waste," said Jim Folkner, head of the group Citizen's to Recall Mayor Ron Littlefield.

The group, along with the Chattanooga Tea Party and Chattanooga Organized for Action, set up booths Friday at the Hamilton County Election Commission office on Amnicola Highway and the Brainerd Recreation Center.

Organizers said they would also be at the Northgate Mall precinct today.

Richard Beeland, spokesman for Mr. Littlefield, said Friday they have nothing to talk about.

"I really don't have a comment," Mr. Beeland said.

The recall effort comes after the city hiked property taxes, sewer rates and fees for water quality, or stormwater. It is the second recall effort in a year.

Chattanooga resident Frank Depinto tried a recall effort last year because of the mayor going to once-a-month recycling service. That petition gained "five or six" signatures, according to Mr. Depinto.

So far, the new effort has garnered between 2,000 and 3,000 signatures, Mr. Folkner said.

Charlotte Mullis-Morgan, Hamilton County elections administrator, has said in the past she would like to see about 15,000 signatures for the ouster to go to a public referendum. She said there is some discrepancy between state law and the City Charter.

Under state law, a petition needs 15,000 signatures, while the City Charter needs 9,000 signatures, or 50 percent of the vote from the last election, she said. State law requires that any ouster petitions get 15 percent of all registered voters inside the city, Mrs. Mullis-Morgan said.

"If they are smart, they will get the 15,000," she said.

Mr. Folkner said he and his attorneys are banking on the lesser figure.

"We still think it's 9,000," he said.

If the required signatures are certified, Mr. Littlefield would be ousted and an election for mayor would be held by November, officials said.

Chris Brooks, organizer for Chattanooga Organized for Action, said Friday he thinks the petition can be successful because the public is disgusted with the mayor.

"It won't be for lack of trying," he said. "I think people want it. It's about getting boots on the ground."