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Don’t expect recall on November ballot

Friday, July 24, 2020 by Jo Clifton

Last fall, the group Our Town Austin, led by activist Sharon Blythe, announced its intention to recall Mayor Steve Adler and the five City Council members not up for reelection in November: Natasha Harper-Madison, Pio Renteria, Ann Kitchen, Paige Ellis and Kathie Tovo. Petitioners were collecting signatures in January and February, but that became much more difficult once Covid-19 arrived in Austin and most people stopped gathering in public places. Asked whether the group was still collecting signatures on Monday, Francoise Luca, the group’s coordinator, said, “not actively at this time.” However, Luca said, “If anyone has any signatures they’re welcome to send them in.” According to the city charter, “A petition signature is invalid if the signer signed the petition earlier than the 180th day before the date the petition is filed.” The petitioners needed to round up signatures from 10 percent of registered voters in the city in order to recall Adler, and 10 percent of registered voters in each of the five districts in order to recall the five Council members. For example, to put the question of recalling Adler on the ballot, petitioners might have to collect signatures from more than 66,000 voters, based on the number of registered voters last November. However, as of Feb. 15, Travis County had more than 820,000 registered voters, according to news reports. Of course, some Austinites live in Williamson County and some of Travis County is outside the city of Austin. Petition backer Blythe expressed frustration with Council on a number of issues, but apparently the last straw was the repeal of the anti-camping ordinance. Another group may have addressed that issue anyway.

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