Mayoral recall election date set for June 23

May 19, 2009

Akron City Council has set June 23 as the day for a special mayoral recall election, but not without passing a resolution opposing the recall and expressing support for Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic.

"We are not telling people what to do, but we are taking a position against it," Council President Marco Sommerville (W-3) said at the close of Monday night's Council meeting. "The election date has been set and the people have a right to vote on it."

Plusquellic wrote Council Monday to acknowledge receipt of notice that enough signatures had been submitted to force a recall election, but that he would not resign from the office he was elected to a little more than 16 months ago.

As directed by the city charter, Council is therefore obligated to set a date for a recall election in which voters will either vote for or against the recall of the mayor.

Elections will be held from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 23, at the same polling stations that voters used for any other election. Early voting by absentee ballot begins Wednesday at the Summit County Board of Elections, 470 Grant St. Voters may also call the board at (330) 643-5200 to request absentee ballots by mail, or download printable absentee forms from the board Web site, www.summitcountyboe.com. Absentee ballots must be received at the elections board by noon Saturday June 20.

If the mayor is recalled, the city charter holds that the city's Law Director will be named acting mayor until Council nominates and sets an election for a successor to serve out the unexpired term.

Much discussion Monday night was devoted to vague charter language that allows a mayoral recall with little evidence of grave misconduct or illegal activity on the part of the elected official. Council will address changes to recall provisions when it's time for the next charter review in 2010.

"Our charter with regard to a recall is extremely vague; there's no provision for requiring a legitimate reason that anybody can be recalled," said Ward 7 Councilwoman Tina Merlitti. "It's our responsibility to recognize the system this Council put in place is flawed. I believe it's fundamentally against our democratic process."

The mayor forms a charter review commission every 10 years, and at least one member of Council is appointed to the body.

Change Akron Now initiated the recall based on charges that the mayor misspends city money when he travels for economic development, proposed leasing the sewer system to pay for college scholarships and has an abrasive personality. It's estimated that the recall will cost city taxpayers at least $175,000.

At Large Councilman Jim Shealey said that none of the reasons for the recall include anything illegal, and the fact that Mayor Plusquellic has led the city for more than 20 years speaks to the good will he has built among Akron residents and members the city administration.

"This body knows the character of the mayor, and a lot of us feel very positively about his character," Shealey said. "He really cares about the city of Akron. It would be wrong for us not to let people know how we feel."