Update: Recall election will go ahead Jan. 25

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December 21st, 2010

Update: Douglas County District Court Judge Peter Bataillon rejected Suttle’s lawsuit challenging the validity of the recall election Dec. 23rd.  The election is now set to proceed on the date set by the Omaha City Council, Jan. 25th. Suttle’s attorney, Vince Powers, said he will not appeal the judge’s ruling.

Bataillon threw out the challenge, saying Douglas County Election Commissioner Dave Phipps followed the law in validating election signatures, and did his job “properly.”

Suttle responded to the loss, saying he is ready to campaign for voters, and plans to defend his record and see through his full term.

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Omaha, NE – A date has been set for a recall election of Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle. Meanwhile, a legal fight to challenge its validity continues in court.

Day two of the hearing in Douglas County District Court began with two more witnesses who said they never signed the petition to recall Mayor Suttle, but were notified that their signatures appeared on the petition pages. Monday, three more witnesses testified with similar stories.

Mayor Suttle’s attorneys are trying to persuade the court that the recall election should never take place because the petition drive was fraught with fraud.

But the spokesperson for the Mayor Suttle Recall Committee, Jeremy Aspen, took the stand again and denied any intentional wrongdoing by the Committee. Aspen said Monday that Suttle’s attorneys are dismissing a few dozen signatures as invalid, whereas the Douglas County Election Commission validated over two-thousand more than is required to put the recall on the ballot.

“If you would lump them together,” he said, “they would all fall into the category of an outlier.”

“No process is 100 percent, so we would always expect there to be … signatures that shouldn’t be there. But on the flipside, if we were to make the case that there were signatures that were thrown out that ought not have been, we would also have been right.”

A handwriting expert, Sylvia Kessler, was also brought to testify. Kessler said she examined over 240 signatures and found several “problematic” areas, including some a full page of signatures that appeared to have been signed by the same person.

Meanwhile, the Omaha City Council, on Tuesday, set a date for a possible recall election. If the legal challenge is thrown out, that election will proceed on January 25th. The Mayor’s office issued a statement following the Council’s action, saying he will be prepared to “defend himself and the majority of Omaha residents who are interested in moving the city forward.”

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