by David Miller
Loveland, Ohio – Mayor Mark Fitzgerald’s Council term does not end until December 2, 2019, however about 2,054 signatures on a recall petition were delivered today to the Hamilton County Board of [quote_box_right]Loveland Recall History
Former Councilmember Todd Osborne said, “The last recall, the only recall, was in 1984. The city had sued HUD over Loveland Pines apartment complex. City council voted to end the lawsuit the day before the ruling, after spending $35,000. A recall petition went out and was certified by the Board of Election. The majority of Council was under recall. Ron Binegar, Roland Boike, John Munnis and John Banks. Binegar resigned but after the five day window. There was a lawsuit, which the petitioners won on appeal. Council had to establish an election date, which they refused to do for several meetings, including walking out without an adjournment. They had a special meeting at 7:25 AM to name the date. All three incumbents retained their seat.[/quote_box_right]Elections to end his term two years early. Members of the Loveland Community Heartbeat PAC (Political Action Committee) (LCHPAC) said the number of signatures is about twice the number of signatures required to get the recall initiative on the ballot this November.
In a press release issued last night, LCHPAC representative Halie Rebeccaschild said, “This has been a difficult time for Loveland residents. Walking every neighborhood in Loveland to collect signatures, we have seen firsthand not only the level of distrust and disappointment throughout the community but also the high level of awareness and engagement among Loveland residents.”
According to Sherry Poland, the Director of the Hamilton County Board of Elections, now that the petitions have been delivered, the Board will begin the process of verifying signatures. She said today that she is not yet positive of the total number of signatures that are required, but the process of determining the number will also begin. The City of Loveland is in three counties, Clermont, Hamilton, and Warren, and LCHPAC will need the signatures equal to 15% of the ballots cast in all three counties at the last Loveland Council election in 2015.
Poland said that if there are sufficient signatures, Fitzgerald will be notified and given five days to either resign his office or face the recall on November 7. She added that if Fitzgerald does resign, then the recall will not be on the Ballot.
If Fitzgerald does resign, council vacancies are filled by a majority of the six remaining Council members. If Council could not agree on a replacement, then Vice-Mayor Angie Settell, who would become Mayor, could appoint Fitzgerald’s replacement unilaterally. The new Councilmember would then have to run in November to retain their seat. Currently the seats of incumbents Pam Gross, Ted Phelps, Robert Weisgerber, and Stephen Zamagias will be on the ballot this fall. Fitzgerald’s resignation may open up a fifth open seat. A successful recall petition will also open up a fifth seat, but one that would be a head-to-head race against Fitzgerald. (Pleas see correction to this paragraph below.)*
If Fitzgerald does not resign, his name will appear on the fall ballot next to the name of anyone who petitions the Board to run against him. Resident Neal Oury has been calling for Fitzgerald’s resignation for several months and is currently collecting signatures to run head-to-head against the Mayor.
Fitzgerald has not acknowledged or responded to emails sent to his City and personal email accounts asking for comment. Fitzgerald was asked for his reaction of the petitions being delivered and of the recall effort in general. He was also asked if he would comment on any specific allegations made against him during the PAC’s signature gathering.
Fitzgerald was also asked if he sees the possibility of legal challenges to the recall petition, or the recall being on the November ballot. He did not respond.
Oury has already gathered more than 1,500 signatures and said he will wait to see the outcome of today’s petition submission before he will bring his own to the Board of Elections.
(This story was up-dated at 6:32 AM 7-22-17)
Adopted Charter of the City of Loveland, Ohio
SEC. 2.03 FILLING OF VACANCIES.
Vacancies in the office of Council member shall be filled within thirty (30) days by vote of a majority of the remaining members of Council, by the selection of a person qualified as provided in Section 2.02 of this Charter. If Council fails to make a selection to fill such vacancy within thirty (30) days, the Mayor shall forthwith make the appointment. Such person so chosen shall serve the remainder of the unexpired term of the Council member whose vacancy he or she was appointed to fill. (11-5-91, 11-6-01)