Recall petition drive heads to final day
By KVNO News
November 18th, 2010
By Josh Krohn, KVNO News
Omaha, NE – Weâ€™ll be one step closer Friday to finding out whether Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle will face a recall. Petition circulators have until 5pm Friday, Nov. 19 to gather enough signatures to put the recall before voters. KVNO Newsâ€™ Josh Krohn took a look at both sides of the debateâ€¦ to find out if the effort is worth it, and what will happen if it goes through.
With a few days left to gather the 26,643 signatures required, petition circulators stood outside the Student Center at the University of Nebraska at Omaha earlier this week to round up potential voters. Â The circulators were paid to gather signatures by the Mayor Suttle Recall Committee. The group said it had about 300 volunteers manning polling stations around the city, but has not said just how many or how many signatures have been gathered so far. But Jeremy Aspen, a spokesman for the group, said heâ€™s optimistic the petition drive will be successful. And, he said, there are a number of reasons why recalling the mayor is right for the city.
â€œHis failure to represent the citizens, raising taxes was a big one,â€ he said. â€œBetrayal, and thatâ€™s in the form most obvious: broken promises. Everyone remembers the advertisement where he said that he was going to lower taxes. That simply didnâ€™t happen. It was probably the case that it was never intended to happen, but it did help him get into office.â€
â€œI really think that itâ€™s just being upset for the sake of it,â€ said Noelle Obermeyer, the spokeswoman for Forward Omaha, a group opposed to the recall. Â Theyâ€™re â€œreally not doing anything to make the process better or to improve the city,â€ she said.
Obermeyer said the effort is merely an attempt to overturn the results of last yearâ€™s mayoral election between former Omaha Mayor Hal Daub, a Republican, and Suttle, a Democrat.
â€œI think that the recall is based on a small group of individuals in Omaha, and possibly outside of Omaha ,â€ she said, â€œthat are upset with the results of the 2009 election and the fact that Hal Daub lost. And instead of moving forward, theyâ€™re trying to push the city backwards.â€
Nebraska Watchdog has reported at least two key players from Daubâ€™s earlier campaign are involved in the recall. But the group has repeatedly denied any connection.
â€œWe havenâ€™t said that we will not endorse somebody,â€ he said. â€œBut at least what we think is that probably would not help anybody, just because then it would look like this was some sort of a front for a particular candidate.â€ â€œAnd it just wasnâ€™t; it was simply a grassroots effort.â€
Another criticism of the recall effort has been that such measures should be reserved for illegal behavior, or gross misconduct, and that tax hikes donâ€™t rise to the level of an impeachable offense. But Aspen countered, the threshold for the mayorâ€™s conduct should be higher than â€œheâ€™s not a criminal.â€ Suttle has called the recall drive â€œexpensive, divisive and recklessâ€ and said the special elections could cost the city up to $900,000. The drive has until 5 pm Friday to collect the necessary signatures. The Douglas County Election Commission would have 15 days to verify them and deliver the verdict to the mayor. At that time, the Mayor could resign, although he has told Nebraska Watchdog he will not. It would then be up to voters to decide in a special election around the end of January.
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