The Norman City Clerk announced in September Unite Norman had submitted the number of valid signatures needed to initiate recall proceedings for Ward 3 Councilmember Alison Petrone, but that the group fell short of the signatures required for Mayor Breea Clark. But matters related to the recall effort seem to be far from over.
City Clerk Brenda Hall, who initially verified and counted the signatures, admitted in a recent legal filing that the effort to hold a recall election for Ward 3 Councilmember Alison Petrone actually does not have enough verified signatures.
Petrone filed a lawsuit against Hall in her official capacity in September, alleging additional signatures were invalid.
Petrone and her attorney found 12 signatures that they thought were duplicates, said Assistant City Attorney Rick Knighton. Hall and city attorneys agreed after reviewing the signatures in question that eight of them should be thrown out for being duplicates. This means the amount of valid signatures would be 2,570, which is three short of the number needed to force a recall election.
Knighton said the court will be the one to determine whether or not the petition is valid.
“If the court decides the petition is valid, then the council will have to schedule an election,” Knighton said. “If the court says it’s not valid, then the council doesn’t have to schedule an election. But obviously there are a lot of nuances in terms of how it will ultimately get resolved because depending on which way the court rules, somebody may have the right to appeal, and that’s just going to draw things out longer.”
Unite Norman first filed recall petitions for the mayor and four city council members in July after the Norman City Council voted to remove $865,000 from the police department’s proposed budget.
The attorney for Unite Norman has filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit.
“Our signature count shows that there are at least 100 more signatures that are valid and that should be counted,” Russell Smith, co-founder of Unite Norman, said in a press release. “...We will challenge this legally to ensure that every citizen’s voice is heard in this process. This is far from over.”
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