Council to consider raising mayoral recall threshold

May 12, 2009

As directed by the city charter, Akron City Council Clerk Bob Keith Monday officially notified Council that enough signatures have been submitted to force a recall election to remove Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic.

After two attempts, the group behind the recall submitted a total of 3,774 valid signatures to demand a recall election - 595 more than the required signatures to put the issue on the ballot. The mayor has five business days from Monday to resign or face a recall election.

Council, as obligated, will announce an election date, but will also devote serious discussion to changing the charter to make it more difficult for anyone to force a recall election.

"Less than three percent of the people eligible to vote signed the petition; that shows how low the threshold is for a recall," said Council President Marco Sommerville. "Council will discuss putting changes to the charter on the ballot after this election. "I think the voters will be more than willing to look at the charter and change it for the betterment of the city"

Sommerville (W-3) said he is inclined to set a special election date for the soonest Tuesday available, a day of the week nationally recognized as an election day, in order to close the recall issue as quickly as possible.

Change Akron Now initiated the recall based on charges that the mayor misspends city money when he travels for economic development, attempted to lease the sewer system to pay for college scholarships and has an abrasive personality. The cost of the recall to city taxpayers is estimated at $175,000.

"The charges against the mayor do not demonstrate anything illegal," Sommerville said. "The issues they are talking about are better addressed during an election."

In other Council business, Sommerville and Ward 10 Councilwoman Kelli Crawford offered a resolution which supports efforts to retain 1,200 jobs at the Twinsburg Chrysler Stamping Plant.

The resolution, unanimously passed by Council, urges the United Auto Workers, the State of Ohio, the City of Twinsburg, the Greater Akron Chamber and Team NEO to work together to save jobs at the plant, which has been targeted for closure under Chrysler LLC's recent bankruptcy filing.

"Losing those 1,200 jobs is going to devastate the region," Crawford said. "These are everyday, working-class Americans that are going to lose good-paying jobs, and the trickle-down effect will be astronomical."

Sommerville and other Council members echoed the lasting negative impact that the plant closure would have on the regional economy.

"This is a very serious situation," Sommerville said. "We can't sit idly by. These jobs are just as important as Goodyear and Firestone jobs."

Chrysler agreed in late April to file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection under a federally-backed restructuring initiated by President Barack Obama's auto industry bailout plan. With the filing, Chrysler became the first major American automaker to seek bankruptcy protection since 1933.