Chattanooga Mayor Recall Has Enough Signatures, Still May Go to Court

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Tea partiers, tax protesters and others who collected enough signatures to recall Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield are likely headed for a court fight, an election official said Monday.
Hamilton County Election Administrator Charlotte Mullis-Morgan said petitioners collected more than the 8,935 valid voter signatures they needed to force a special election. She said there were at least 9,071 valid signatures counted late Friday.
Tea party activist Charles Wysong said he and others are seeking a special mayoral election on the Nov. 2 ballot.
Mullis-Morgan said the election commission will meet Sept. 8 to set an election schedule. She predicted Monday that the recall process will end up in court.
A spokesman for the mayor, Richard Beeland, said Monday that there are a “lot of issues that are questionable.” He declined to elaborate about the mayor’s plans.

Critics of the mayor, who is one year into his second and final term, are mostly upset about him pushing through a property tax increase. Tea party activist Charles Wysong said he was a longtime supporter until the mayor recommended a 33 percent property tax increase that City Council members reduced to 19 percent before voting to approve it in June.
“I think people feel betrayed by the city government,” Wysong said.
Wysong agreed that the recall effort will likely end up in court.
“We have just turned in 1,000 more signatures today,” he said before the 4 p.m. Monday deadline on the 75-day petition effort. “We have followed the election commission’s pronouncements to the letter of the law.”
Wysong said other petition efforts to recall council members who supported the tax increase “will come later.”
Wysong said groups involved in the petition to recall the mayor will unite behind a candidate in the special election. Littlefield has declined comment about the recall. Beeland said the mayor, who was elected in 2009, will be a candidate if the petition effort forces a special election. Wysong declined to identify a candidate who will get the support of the petition groups.

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