CUDAHY — Next month, City Clerk Ebbie Mouton could have a tough time figuring out whether there are sufficient signatures for a recall election against two councilmen.
Leaders of the recall effort against Councilmen John O. Robertson and Joseph Graffio are trying to gather signatures of 25% of the city's 3,348 registered voters, the minimum needed to force a recall election.
At the same time, Robertson, Graffio and their supporters are urging residents who signed the recall petitions to sign another document revoking their signatures for a recall.
It will be up to Mouton to sort it all out.
"A lot of work is involved in all elections. But this one could be more work," said Mouton, a 21-year city employee who has been city clerk since August. "It is going to be complicated."
Neither recall leaders nor the counter-recall organizers will say how many signatures they have collected. The deadline for submitting recall petitions is Feb. 10. Under the law, voters can have their names withdrawn from a recall petition by notifying the city clerk at least a day before the recall deadline, City Manager Gerald Caton said.
Michael Rodriguez, who is heading the recall effort, said he hopes to collect more than 1,200 signatures, far more than the minimum requirement of 837. "I'll probably wait until deadline to turn them in," he said.
Although declining to say how many voters have revoked their recall signatures, Robertson said that "people will be surprised (at the number)." The recall drive was organized after Robertson, Graffio and Councilman Gabe Zippi voted in October to cut off funds to the financially troubled Cudahy Social Service Agency and to hire two other nonprofit agencies to take over the agency's job of distributing food and clothing to the needy. Zippi, who died of bone cancer Jan. 9, was never targeted for recall.
Graffio and Robertson were accused by recall proponents of being insensitive to community needs. Rodriguez, the recall leader, is a director of the Social Service Agency.
Has 30 Days for Check
Mouton will have 30 days to check both sets of petitions and plans to get help from the county registrar-recorder. The strategy of collecting signatures to offset recall drives has been used occasionally by other officials, according to Henrietta Willis, assistant press relations officer for the registrar.
A recall attempt against Robertson and Graffio in 1987 failed to collect enough signatures to force an election. The councilmen did not attempt to get anti-recall signatures then, Robertson said.