Earle recall has enough signatures

County working thorough process for vote on mayor

By Mark Randall news@theeveningtimes.com

A petition aimed at recalling Earle Mayor Carolyn Jones has enough valid signatures, but supporters may have to wait to until July to file it. County Clerk Paula Brown confirmed her office has checked the names and signatures on the petition and found them to be valid, but is waiting to hear back from the county attorney to clarify the law about when it can be submitted. “All we did was check the petition — the signatures, whether the person is registered, the addresses,” Brown said. “There are enough signatures. They’re good. But I’ve contacted Mr. (Joe) Rogers because this is the first time we have done this.” The petition was started by Earley May Wallace, who worked for the city for 11 years but was fired by Jones last April, because of the turmoil in the city since Jones took over as mayor. This is the second time Wallace has turned in the petition. Her first attempt was rejected because there weren’t enough valid signatures of registered voters to meet the legal requirements. Wallace needed 368 valid signatures. Many of the signatures, however, were from registered voters but their addresses did not match the voter list. This time Wallace turned in over 500 signatures. County Attorney Joe Rogers said the problem isn’t with the signatures. The recall law states that a petition must be filed no more than 120 days before and no less than 90 days before the general election. “It was filed too early,” Rogers said. “It has to be filed closer to the election.” Rogers said as long as the signatures have been verified, all Wallace will have to do is turn the petition back in to the clerk’s office at the proper time. “There is nothing in the statute that says when the signatures need to be collected,” Rogers said. “They just need to be collected and be filed within that time frame.” Crittenden County Election Commissioner Frank Barton concurs with Rogers. “The actual recall election has to be in a general election, not a special election,” Barton said. “So that would be November. And the window for delivering the signatures is no less than 90 days, no more than 120 days before that election.” Barton added that the November election would simply ask voters whether they are in favor of recalling the mayor. There would still need to be a special election after that to vote for a specific candidate for the office. “With a mayor-council form of government the law proscribes that you have to have it in the general election,” Barton said. “But you do have to hold another election after that.” Wallace said she doesn’t understand what is going on with the petition, but suspects politics is playing a role in holding things up. “I don’t know what the hold up is,” Wallace said. “Why would the county attorney need to see it? The county attorney has nothing to do with it.” Wallace claims an employee in Brown’s office told her — in front of a witness — “you’re never going to get anywhere with that.” She also said Jones used to brag about knowing Brown. “It was her (Jones) big mouth when she was on the council. She used to say ‘I bring everything to Paula. She and I are friends,’” Wallace said. Wallace said she asked Brown about whether she was friends with Jones and if it was interfering with her job performance. “I did confront her about being friends with the mayor,” Wallace said. “But she (Brown) said ‘Oh I wouldn’t jeopardize my job.’ I don’t think she knows what she is doing. There is something going on over there. We won’t let up though. So that’s all right. I just want to do it right.”

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