Suttle may face recall

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November 19th, 2010

Omaha, NE – It appears Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle may be facing a recall election.

Recallers say they've gathered 37,219 signatures (Photo Robyn Wisch)

The Mayor Suttle Recall Committee announced today the group has collected 37,219 signatures. That’s more than 10,000 above the amount required to put the recall on the ballot. But those signatures still need to be validated. Jeremy Aspen, spokesman for the committee, said “We won’t really know our success until after the Douglas County Election Commissioner determines that we have a number that is greater than the 27,000 needed.”

Aspen said he doesn’t know how many invalid signatures the committee may have. Typically, he said, about 8-12% of signatures collected by petition drives, are invalid.

Mayor Suttle may face a recall election as soon as January (Photo courtesy Mayor's Office)

“But different petition drives around the country have as many as almost 30% bad signatures,” he said. “So I’m guessing it won’t be that. It would almost take that to invalidate our efforts. So we’re really confident, but we’re also on edge, just waiting to get the final results.”

Noelle Obermeyer, a spokeswoman for Forward Omaha, a group opposed to the recall said she believes many of the signatures will not be validated. She said her group observed the petition circulators, and videotaped violations. Many, she said, gathered illegally.

“There were some paid circulators from out of the state,” she said, “possibly handling the petitions, as well as making a number of comments that were absolutely false.” “There’s also some promises made that in exchange for a petition, someone would gain something, like on UNO’s campus, a free beer, something along those lines.”

The Douglas County Election Commission has 15 days to sort through and validate the signatures. If that occurs, Mayor Suttle has five days to decide whether or not he will resign, although he reiterated in a statement Friday that he will not. It would then be up to voters to decide in a special election at the end of January.

Asked if she would challenge the results if the Douglas County Election Commission does validate the signatures, Obermeyer said “Absolutely.”

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Mayor Suttle’s office released this statement late Friday.

“Mayor Suttle has balanced the city’s budget in spite of major financial challenges, he has made City services more efficient and cost-effective, restored the city’s AAA bond rating saving taxpayers millions of dollars and is actively working to recruit businesses and jobs to Omaha. The Mayor has spent the last 18 months in office looking for solutions to the problems our city is facing. It’s unfortunate that petition organizers without facts, a solution or a plan for resolving challenges the citizens of our city are up against during these tough economic times can be heard so loudly.”

“Mayor Suttle is not planning to resign, because he made a promise to the people of Omaha to serve them to the best of his ability for four years and he is keeping his promise. The Mayor believes in the people of Omaha and has faith that they recognize his commitment to them.”

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