KANSAS CITY — An effort to recall Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser has fallen just short of the number of signatures needed.
The petition drive collected 16,821 valid signatures, 129 short of the required 16,950 signatures, The Kansas City Star reported on its Web site Saturday.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Funkhouser said he always expected the recall to fall short. He said he didn't know exactly how he would respond if opponents continued their efforts to remove him from office.
After hearing the results, petitioners said they would seek a recount, then consult an attorney about their legal options.
Funkhouser has been criticized heavily since taking office in May 2007. Much of the controversy centered on the role his wife, Gloria Squitiro, played in his administration. She volunteered nearly full time at his office and came under fire for her brash personality and control of the mayor's agenda.
Funkhouser sued the city council in November 2008 after it enacted an ordinance aimed at keeping Squitiro from volunteering in his office. That came after Squitiro was at the center of a lawsuit from an aide who accused her of harassment and discrimination.
On Saturday, Funkhouser said the recall petition arose more from people upset with his efforts to change the city's focus and priorities.
"All this means is change is hard," he said while vacationing in southern Missouri. "But every passing week I'm moving the city's agenda forward, dealing with the problems the city has, like people leaving the city, and finding solutions to work on basic services, education and crime. I'm going to keep doing that. I believe relations with the council are improving and we're moving ahead."
He said the complaints about his wife were a "smoke screen" for his opponents.
"I think that was an excuse," he said. "I don't think that has anything to do with reality. It's a manufactured, fabricated reason to come after me and has nothing to do with the issues of the city."
In their statement, the petition organizers said they would push on.
"There are no winners in today's preliminary results, only a clear message that resident dissatisfaction with our current administration cannot and will not be ignored."