By Jessica Bruha
HEALDTON — Two city council members are fighting back with fine details after residents in the city of Healdton circulated and signed statements of recall to remove them from the council.
Council members Treva Gage and Linda Hill filed a petition Monday in Carter County District Court against the Carter County Election Board, city of Healdton, Healdton City Clerk Liz Sloat and several petitioners involved in the attempt to recall them from public office.
The council members said once the recall statements were filed, they felt pressured to pass a resolution to schedule a recall election for their respective seats due to city codes and under advisement of City Attorney Bob Pinkerton.
“Attorney Pinkerton’s advice in regards to the passage of the Resolution, at least in the case of (Gage and Hill), was coercive in nature and is contrary to the democratic process; (Gage and Hill) should not have been forced to vote for their own recall,” the document states.
The two women requested the court set a hearing within 30 days and grant a permanent injunction against the Carter County Election Board, enjoining them from holding the election.
Alternatively, they are asking the court to grant a declaratory judgement finding the city of Healdton and other parties to have, “wholly and improperly” conducted the recall process and that the resolution calling for the election be found “null and void” so no recall election shall take place, the document shows.
Some of the finer details of the recall process being “improperly” conducted involves the following, according to the petition:
• The city used the phrase “Statement of Recall” rather than “Statement for Recall”
• The font sizes of the Statement for Recall and Statement Against Recall are different
• No petition was filed at all; the circulation of the statement of recall is not a petition
• Affiants listed who circulated the petitions “clearly did not understand the Code and therefore should not have sworn to and executed said affidavits”
• The city clerk’s hand-written notation on Plaintiff Gage’s Statement Against Recall is not a proper certification of the circulated petition
• The resolution(s) for the recall election was not passed within 30 days of the clerk’s certification of the circulated petition and in fact was some 41 days later than said deadline
• The election date does not fall within 30 to 50 days after the passage of the resolution and in fact, if held will be 134 days later than said deadline. The city could and should have first checked with the Election Board regarding available election dates, chosen a date and then worked backwards to know when to begin the recall process
Attorney Scott Andrews is representing Gage and Hill. Andrews said Wednesday he plans to consult with his clients before commenting on the pending lawsuit.