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Date of Issue: May 26, 2010

Recall petition certified, Stoltzfus to challenge

Now that the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections office has certified the petition to recall Anna Maria Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus, expect Stoltzfus to file a legal challenge.

Stoltzfus attorney Richard Harrison wrote in a May 19 e-mail that the commissioner’s position on the recall “has not changed” and Stoltzfus will “initiate appropriate legal action” if the petition is verified and “properly served” on the commissioner.

The attorney said Stoltzfus would seek to “have the petition declared invalid and the recall process enjoined” from proceeding.

“We are confident that the circuit court in Manatee County will agree with us on those legal issues, which can be decided rationally and outside of the political feeding frenzy that some parties have gone to great lengths to create in Anna Maria,” Harrison concluded.

Bob Carter, chair of the Recall Commissioner Stoltzfus committee, said the group will proceed with the recall despite any legal challenge.

“We have anticipated that kind of delay action since we began the process and will respond appropriately as it develops,” Carter responded.

Supervisor of Elections Bob Sweat certified the recall petition May 21.

The committee submitted 247 signatures in its petition, well above the required 136 — 10 percent of the eligible voters as of the November 2009 election — to proceed with the recall process. Sweat certified 218 signatures.

The recall petition must be legally served on Stoltzfus, who then has five days to submit a 200-word defense that would accompany a second petition, according to Nancy Bignell of the elections office.

The committee then has 30 days to obtain signatures from 15 percent (204) of the eligible Anna Maria voters on the second petition.

If the second petition meets the criteria and the names and signatures are certified and accepted by the elections office, it would then go to Ed Nicholas, the chief judge of the Manatee County Circuit Court. Nicholas would review the petition and objections. If he rules in favor of a recall election, he will set a date.

According to Florida statutes, a recall ballot in Anna Maria would state:

“Shall (name of official) be removed from the office of (office held) by recall?” followed by two statements, each with a box for the voter to check:

• (name of person) should be removed from office, and

• (name of person) should not be removed from office.

The statute also requires that if only one official is removed from office by a recall vote, “the vacancy created by the recall shall be filled by the governing body according to the provisions of the appropriate law for filling vacancies.”

In the case of Anna Maria, the ruling law would be the city charter.

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