COLUMBIA — On Sunday night, Jeanette Jackson-Thompson's house overflowed with people. All of them were there because of a petition.
In the last week, Jackson-Thompson, vice president of the Park Hill Improvement Association, has been one of the leaders of a petition to recall Fourth Ward Councilman Daryl Dudley over his support for ward reapportionment Trial D, a map that was rejected by the City Council. The petition was first distributed at 3:15 p.m. Thursday and was turned in to the city clerk at 3:57 p.m. Monday. In that time, the group collected 830 signatures.
"I met people that have lived here in Columbia that I'd never met before," Jackson-Thompson said.
City Clerk Sheela Amin said that because the number of signatures on the petition fell short of the charter requirement of 1,521, it will not be validated. The required number of signatures is based on 30 percent of the votes cast in the Fourth Ward in the last election.
Amin said the group has until Nov. 1 to continue collecting signatures. If it gets 691 more, Amin will check the signatures to determine whether the petition is valid. If it is, the council would put the recall on the next available ballot.
Now that the council has passed ward reapportionment Trial E, both Jackson-Thompson and Jeremy Root, an attorney and leader of the effort, have said they will step down as leaders of the petition drive. Root said the petitioners had not met to discuss their next step.
Root said that from his perspective, the recall petition was centered on the ward reapportionment issue. Now that Trial E has passed, the petition's goal has been met.
Despite the threat of recall by his constituents, Dudley cast the council's only “no” vote on Trial E.
"(Dudley's vote) sticks out like a sore thumb... and that thumb is going into the eye of his constituents," Root said.
At Monday night’s council meeting, Second Ward Councilman Jason Thornhill called the recall effort a personal attack on Dudley. He said the group was misusing a process that should be reserved for officeholders who commit serious crimes or when there is a "serious malfeasance" by a public official.
Root disagreed, saying recalls are used when representatives fail to listen to their constituents about issues affecting the city.
The last time a councilman was recalled in Columbia was in 1990, when Fifth Ward voters recalled Chester Edwards after an unpopular zoning vote.
Jackson-Thompson said she was inspired by the efforts of petitioners. "(Columbia is) a city that believes in fighting for what we believe in," she said.
For now, Root and Jackson-Thompson are content with a victory for Trial E. They said they'll wait until the next election to make a decision on Dudley.