Opponents of Trial D redistricting plan meet to organize Dudley recall effort

Thursday, October 13, 2011 | 10:46 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Organizers of a petition to recall Fourth Ward Councilman Daryl Dudley held two meetings and passed out petitions Thursday.

“Don’t be shy,” Jeannette Jackson-Thompson, vice president of the Park Hill Improvement Association, said as she ushered attendees of the 3:15 p.m. meeting into a 30-person room at the Columbia Public Library. The room filled to capacity.

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The Missourian has received several documents on ward reapportionment via a Sunshine request. Three of them can be viewed on the Watchword blog.

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Jackson-Thompson, who has lived in the Fourth Ward since 1979, is leading the effort to recall Dudley. She said the group is not against Dudley but against the amended Trial D proposal he presented at the most recent City Council meeting. The amended map was not a part of the initial Ward Reapportionment Committee process and did not have a public hearing.

“Once it’s done, you can’t undo it for a decade,” Jackson-Thompson told the crowd at the afternoon meeting.

The second meeting was held at 7 p.m. at the Activity and Recreation Center.

Some attendees came for more information on the petition and others came to sign it.

The petition states: “Ward 4 Councilman Daryl Dudley has violated his oath and deserves to be recalled.” It outlines the concerns the group has with Dudley’s amended Trial D.

At both meetings the organizers explained their stances and encouraged attendees to take copies of the petition and sign up for routes to canvass.

Jeremy Root, a lawyer, spoke about the ward reapportionment process at both meetings.

He said the amended Trial D “jerry-rigs" results for Dudley and Third Ward Councilman Gary Kespohl.

“It serves (Dudley) more than it serves the city,” Root said.

This weekend the group will focus its canvassing efforts on the areas that would be redistricted by amended Trial D: Westmount, Park Hill, Quarry Heights and Historic Old Southwest neighborhoods.

“We’re going to hit the streets, and we’re looking for volunteers,” Root said.

Petitions must be signed by registered voters in the Fourth Ward, so it is possible some people's signatures wouldn't count after redistricting. Also, the signatures must be witnessed by the petitioner, and the final signature of the witness must be verified by a notary.

Root did not know how many signatures had been collected, but he felt good about the progress the group had made so far.

Each petition has space for 10 signatures. In total, the group needs 1,520 signatures. The group's goal, though, is 2,000 signatures.

The signatures will be submitted to the city clerk, who has 30 days to validate them. If the signatures are deemed valid by the clerk, the recall will go on the next ballot, where it will be put to voters.

Root said that the signatures, however many are collected, could send a message to the council.

Many people at the meeting supported Trial E, which would move the Columbia Mall, Walmart and Park Deville neighborhood into the First Ward.

The group’s motto is “D is for divisive, and E is for everyone.”

Both Root and Jackson-Thompson encouraged signers and anyone else who is against Trial D to attend the City Council meeting on Monday and show their support for Trial E and opposition to Trial D.

The council will vote on the redistricting at its next meeting at 7 p.m. Monday.

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