Local News

City residents take out recall petitions

Nikki Blankenship
Scioto County Candor

Portsmouth City residents are taking steps to move forward with attempts to recall members of Portsmouth City Council.
On Feb. 16, the Scioto County Candor contacted Portsmouth City Clerk Diana Ratliff for information about petitions taken out to recall two of the six members of Council.
On Feb. 22, Ratliff responded by announcing that petitions have been taken out for the recall of Fourth Ward Councilman Jim Kalb and Sixth Ward Councilman Tom Lowe.
“On February 13, 2018, I received an affidavit for recall petitions from Zack Sims for the 4th Ward and have not received those petitions back yet,” Ratliff confirmed before adding, “On February 16, 2018, I received an affidavit for recall petitions from Mardi Carter for the 6th Ward and have not received those petitions back yet.”
According to the Portsmouth City Charter, in order to demand the removal of an elected official, a resident must obtain a recall petition. The petitioner must then get signatures of 25 percent of the qualified electors of the City who voted in the last election.
“[I]f for the removal of an officer elected from a ward, by the signatures of qualified electors of the particular ward equal in number to at least twenty-five per centum (25%) of the electors who voted at the last preceding regular municipal election in said ward,” Section 151 of the Charter states.
Ratliff explained that the Fourth Ward had 345 total voters per the Scioto County Board of Elections who voted in the last election. Thus, Sims would need less than 90 signatures.
According to Ratliff, there were 616 total voters from the Sixth Ward who voted in the last election. Thus, Carter will need to collect more than 150 signatures. The Charter further states, however, that if a petition is insufficiently filed, it may be amended.
In accordance with Section 152 of the Charter, once signatures are collected and petitions are filed and certified by the Clerk’s Office, petitions must be submitted to Council and the elected official up for recall must be notified. That official then has five days to resign. After five days, a recall election is scheduled.
“If the officer whose removal is sought does not resign within five (5) days after such notice the Council shall thereupon order and fix a day for holding a recall election,” the Charter states. “Any such election shall be held not less than forty (40) nor more than ninety (90) days after the expiration of the period of five (5) days last mentioned, and at the same time as any general, primary, or special election shall be held within such period; but, if no general, primary, or special election shall be held within such period, the Council shall order a special recall election to be held within the time aforesaid.”
The possibility of recalls in Portsmouth comes after the onset of the City Manager controversy, in which members of Council including Kalb, Lowe, Gene Meadows and Jo Ann Aeh voted to terminate the City Manager for various reasons including allegations that Allen gave pay raises and entered into contracts without approval and physically struck a City employee. Since Allen’s firing in mid-December, Allen and Council have made failed mediation efforts. Solicitor John Haas has since presented Council with an injunction that put Allen back in his office as City Manager.
Both Kalb and Lowe were asked to comment on the possibility of recall; however, as of press time, neither has responded.
Portsmouth City Council will meet again at 6 p.m. on Monday. To accommodate the masses of citizens flooding into recent Council meetings, Monday’s meeting will be held at the Shawnee State University Sodexo Ballroom.

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