City attorneys acknowledged the effort to recall Ward 3 Councilor Alison Petrone did not total enough signatures, according to its response to a lawsuit.
Petrone filed a lawsuit against City Clerk Brenda Hall in her capacity as clerk on Sept. 22 alleging additional signatures on recall petition pages were invalid. Hall certified Unite Norman’s petition with 2,580 surviving signatures, just seven more than required by the City Charter.
Unite Norman enjoined the lawsuit to answer accusations about signature gathering practices and the city filed its response Tuesday afternoon.
Assistant City Attorney Rick Knighton said Petrone's attorney Joel Wohlgemuth “identified 12 signatures that he believed were duplicates,” in an email to The Transcript on Wednesday. After the clerk and legal staff reviewed the signatures, they agreed eight were duplicates, Knighton said.
The finding brought the count down to three short of the requirement, “to authorize a recall petition,” Knighton said.
Because the threshold has not been met for the petition to survive, other arguments are “moot,” Knighton said.
Wohlgemuth has argued that the charter’s language for recall petitions and petition forms are inconsistent with state law. He also accused signature gatherers of fraud, among other allegations.
“While Ms. Petrone does allege that the city’s recall procedure is deficient, they appear to be abandoning those allegations in favor of pursuing their allegations regarding the count,” Knighton said. “In other words, regardless of whether the procedure was deficient, if the count is deficient, the arguments regarding procedure is moot.”
Attorney for Unite Norman Glenn Coffee argued in it’s response that the accusations were broad and inaccurate. Coffee also disputed that “any of the certified signatures were not in the voter database and demands strict proof thereof,” he wrote.
A hearing on the matter has not been set. Calls to Coffee and Wohlgemuth were not returned. City spokeswoman Annahlyse Meyer has said Hall cannot comment regarding ongoing litigation involving her office.