As of Tuesday, May 13, 2014
BRIDGEPORT Local residents will be able to vote this summer on whether to recall Mayor Marilynn Lynn.
“We just got done certifying signatures. It’s pretty much a done deal,” resident Michael Knox said Monday morning as he left the Douglas County Auditor’s Office in Waterville.
Knox collected 114 signatures on his petition to create a recall ballot. While he had 180 days from March 27 to start gathering signatures – he needed at least 85 – Knox pulled together 29 more than needed in less than two weeks.
Lynn did not respond to a Chronicle request for comment.
Lynn was to be notified of the signature certification and proposed ballot language and given seven days to respond, Knox said. After that, a special election date will be set.
“I think the number of signatures really points out just how upset the folks are,” Knox said. “When you consider that 135 put her into office and then consider that 114 are now asking for a ‘do over,’ that’s impressive.”
He turned the petition in to the Auditor’s Office on April 9. As of Monday, the office had 10 days to verify all the signatures, but the work took less than three hours.
A special election must be scheduled within 90 days of the signature certification, Auditor Thad Duvall said.
“If the petitioners had waited another 30 days, we could have waited for the August primary,” he said. “If they had waited they would have saved Bridgeport some money.
“Now, as it stands, they’re going to go on a special ballot by themselves in the middle of the year.”
He estimated a special election will cost the city a few thousand dollars.
Knox said Duvall had asked him to wait 25 days before submitting signatures to push the election back to August, but the feedback he had received from other residents convinced him not to.
“There’s a growing sentiment in town that the citizens want the opportunity to do the vote, and there are a couple of people who said that money would be well-justified,” Knox said. “The people don’t want to wait. They want the opportunity to have their say.”
He said the special election could take place as soon as early June.
Knox began the recall effort against Lynn in late January by filing an eight-page list of complaints that charged her with allegedly committing malfeasance or misfeasance since her election in November 2011.
Of the 14 complaints listed, Knox withdrew one and Douglas County Superior Court Judge John Hotchkiss found cause to move forward with a recall petition on only one allegation.
The allegation was that Lynn had hired someone to work in City Hall against the City Council’s wishes. In a Feb. 4 court hearing, Hotchkiss told Lynn she may have been “splitting hairs” when she hired Eugenia Dominguez.
While council members have argued that they did not give approval to hire Dominguez, Lynn said the council did approve a voucher to pay Dominguez for providing contracted services.
Lynn told the judge she hired Dominguez to work on a temporary, part-time basis while the city was short-staffed and Karen Brown was in training to become the city’s new finance director. Lynn said Dominguez was not given benefits as an employee would be.
“I don’t believe it was a violation of my oath to hire Eugenia Dominguez,” Lynn said. “I was concerned that essential public services were not going to be met.”
She filed a motion for reconsideration in Hotchkiss’ decision, but he upheld his ruling.