COLUMBIA — Residents of the city's Fourth Ward have drafted a petition to recall their councilman, Daryl Dudley. Proponents of the recall will begin gathering signatures Tuesday.
The residents want to recall Dudley from office because he is supporting his alternate version of a proposed ward reapportionment known as Trial D. Dudley recently proposed an amendment to the original Trial D, which didn't meet city charter requirements that wards be contiguous. Some Dudley constituents dislike both versions of Trial D because they would move progressive voting precincts out of the Fourth Ward and into the First.
Missourian reporter Karen Miller joined Columbia Tribune reporter Andrew Denney and former Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala in a discussion of ward reapportionment on KBIA's "Intersection," hosted by Reuben Stern. You can get audio and video of the program here.
The residents include former Fourth Ward Councilman Rex Campbell, who was on the City Council the last time a successful recall occurred. He is advising the citizens group on the process of recalls based on his experience. Jeanette Jackson-Thompson of the Park Hill Improvement Association is leading the effort. The Missourian was unable to reach her for comment.
Article 17 of the city charter specifies that recall petitions must include a statement outlining the grounds for the recall. A preliminary copy of the petition was provided by Columbia lawyer Jeremy Root. The petition states that Dudley:
- Ignored public opposition to Trial D as well as support for a different proposal known as Trial E. Trial E would expand the First Ward toward the west.
- Amended Trial D — the original was proposed to the committee by Rob Monsees, Dudley's appointee — to create a map which they call "blatantly self-serving."
- Created a map that gerrymanders. To gerrymander, according to Webster's New World College Dictionary, is "to divide (a voting area) so as to give one political party a majority in as many districts as possible or weaken the voting strength of an ethnic or racial group, urban population, etc."
- Ignored the recommendation of the Ward Reapportionment Committee. Although the committee split 4-4 in its vote on the original Trial D, it favored Trial E on a 5-3 vote.
- Used Trial D to move out of his ward the precincts that least favored him in the 2010 election.
To be accepted by the city clerk, the petition must include a collection of signatures equal to or greater than 30 percent of the total number of votes in the last Fourth Ward council election. There were 5,068 votes cast in the ward in April 2010 — meaning 1,520 signatures are required for the recall to appear on the next ballot. Signatures must come from people eligible to vote in the Fourth Ward.
Because the deadline has passed to certify issues to the Nov. 8 ballot, the soonest possible vote on a recall would be Feb. 7. If voters decided to remove Dudley from the council, the position would remain vacant until the next scheduled election. The state election calendar allows charter cities such as Columbia to have elections on March 6. The next scheduled election would be the municipal vote on April 3.
Dudley won a four-way race in April 2010 with 36 percent of the ballots cast, or 1,831 votes. The majority of the votes were split three ways among Dudley, Tracy Greever-Rice and Sarah Read.
The recall was suggested at a meeting with Dudley on Friday, as previously reported by the Missourian. Attendees were upset with Dudley's support for the trial, which they believed to be gerrymandering.
The last city councilman to be recalled was Fifth Ward Councilman Chester Edwards in 1990. The petition was initiated by residents of the High Pointe subdivision, who were angry about Edwards' tie-breaking vote on the council that allowed the construction of the Fox Pointe student apartments at the end of the residential cul-de-sac.
Voters passed the recall on the November ballot, and Fifth Ward Councilman Karl Kruse was elected to Edwards' vacant spot in February 1991.
The City Council is scheduled to hear public input and vote on new ward boundaries at its Oct. 17 meeting.