Recall committee meets minimum goal
The Recall Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus committee in Anna Maria last week reached the minimum of 136 signatures needed to present the petition to the clerk of the circuit court. The figure required by Florida law is 10 percent of the city’s 1,362 registered voters.
Committee member Sandy Mattick said the volunteers would continue this week to collect more signatures.
The petition must be filed with the Manatee County Clerk of the Circuit Court within 30 days of the first signature, according to the Florida statute on recall. The committee began obtaining signatures of registered Anna Maria voters April 22.
Mattick said she and other volunteers have come across a number of residents who voted for Commissioner Stoltzfus in November 2009, but now have signed the petition.
Additionally, she said, some voters have said they are upset with what Stoltzfus wrote in his e-mails about Mayor Fran Barford, and are concerned he has a hidden agenda.
Committee chairman Bob Carter said he has talked with several people who declined to sign the petition because their names would become public, but said they would vote to recall Stoltzfus if such an election were held.
Carter also said that everyone who signed the petition now understands that their e-mails will not be seized and become part of the public record as a Stoltzfus supporter had claimed several weeks ago.
An attorney with the Florida Attorney General’s office quashed that suggestion, noting the recall committee does not transact any public business and was not formed by the city.
But not everyone in Anna Maria agrees with the petition.
One man told Mattick he was not going to sign the petition, and that Stoltzfus was his man.
Another said he didn’t care if Stoltzfus broke any law, he was still supporting the commissioner.
Others have placed signs in their car windows that read “Stoltzfus Supporter.”
Attorney Richard Harrison of Tampa, who represents Stoltzfus, has said the commissioner has done nothing wrong and has not violated Florida’s Government-in-the-Sunshine Law.
In a letter to the city, Harrison said it was an “honor” to represent Stoltzfus.
The state Sunshine Law requires public officials to not discuss city business with other officials without noticing the public, or to use a third party as a conduit to discuss public business with an elected official.
The committee has a lot more work to do after the signatures on the first petition are verified and the petition presented by the committee chairman and accepted, according to the Florida statute on recall. There’s a second petition that has to be circulated that needs the signatures of 15 percent — 198 — of the 1,362 registered voters in Anna Maria. The first petition requires 10 percent.
In addition, Stoltzfus is entitled to write a defense to the allegations that will accompany the second petition.
Florida recall statute
Procedures in the recall effort, according to the Florida statute, include:
• The clerk, after receiving the defense statement, shall within five days, prepare a sufficient number of copies of the recall petition and defensive statement, as well as the names, addresses and oaths on the original petition, and deliver them to the recall committee chairperson.
The prepared copies shall be entitled “Recall Petition and Defense” and shall contain lines and spaces for signatures and printed names of registered electors, place of residence, election precinct number and date of signing, together with oaths to be executed by the witnesses. The clerk shall deliver forms sufficient to carry the signatures of 30 percent of the registered electors.
• Upon receipt of the “Recall Petition and Defense,” the committee may circulate it to obtain the signatures of 15 percent of the electors.
• Within 60 days after delivery of the “Recall Petition and Defense” to the chair, the chair shall file with the clerk the “Recall Petition and Defense,” which includes the required signatures of 15 percent of the voters.
• The supervisor shall be paid by the persons or committee seeking verification the sum of 10 cents for each name checked.
• In the absence of a resignation, the chief judge of the judicial circuit in which the municipality is located shall fix a day for holding a recall election.