Don Culliver recall, Mansfield, Ohio, 2009
On August 10, 2009 Barbara Walter, a Mansfield resident and former member of the police review commission, filed an official letter with the city clerk of the intent to recall Mayor Culliver. According to Walter, the recall movement began after officials reduced the city's safety forces, such as fire stations, due to financial problems. Some residents, including Walter, said they believe that Culliver is responsible for the closures and reductions in safety forces.
On Thursday, October 1, the Richland County Board of Elections unanimously rejected recall petitions circulated in Mansfield. Walters said that she does not have any intention of appeal the board's decision and that she does not plan to pursue a second recall effort.
On October 1, 20009, allegations of a felony falsification began after the elections board rejected the recall petitions. The Richland County Board of Elections voted unanimously on October 6, 2009 to request that the Mansfield Police Department investigate a city council member and the president of a city worker’s union. According to reports, felony election falsification is a fifth degree felony and is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and $2,500 in fines.
Mark Abrams, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal EmployeesLocal 1295 refused to testify at the board's hearing. The case has since been closed. Abrams was not charged. According to reports, Abrams' name and address were listed under the circulator information, however, it is reported that he was not in fact the circulator. The Richland County Board of Elections announced in January 2010 that they will sent a letter to the Ohio Secretary of State questioning the lack of charges against Abrams.
According to Rev. Thomas Hunt, of the Providence Baptist Church, said that member of the Mansfield Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance do not believe that a recall would be in the best interest of the city. Hunt added that while some may disagree with Mayor Culliver, it should not qualify as conditions for a recall. Hunt called the recall "fivilous" and a "waste of taxpayer money." Ben Mutti, of the Richland Community Family Coalition, also agrees. "Recalling the mayor will be like throwing water on a grease fire. It will cause greater damage and cost the community more money that it doesn't have," he said.
Recall supporters must collect 15 percent of the total votes in the last November mayoral election. In other words, supporters must collect a minimum of 1,813 valid signatures to place the recall on the ballot. On Tuesday, September 8, 2009, recall supporters submitted 1,941 signatures.
As of September 9, 2009 election staff checked 1,094 names. A total of 949 signatures were deemed valid, while 145 were rejected. Unless the rejection rate improves, election officials said it is unlikely for a recall election to take place. However, if not enough signatures are counted, recall supporters have up to 10 days after to collect more signatures.
If the recall election is held before the November 2009 general election the Board of Elections Director Paulette Hankins said that the election could cost as little as $40,000 or as much as $50,000.
- Mansfield News Journal, "Mayoral recall is on, maybe for Nov. 3," September 16, 2009
- Mansfield News Journal, "UPDATE: Notice seeks to recall Mansfield mayor Don Culliver," August 10, 2009
- Mansfield News Journal, "Mayoral recall vote could cost up to $50K," August 13, 2009
- Mansfield News Journal, "Mansfield mayoral recall off Nov. 3 ballot," October 2, 2009
- Mansfield News Journal, "Walter won't pursue mayoral recall," October 3, 2009
- Mansfield News Journal, "Mansfield recall petition issues trigger investigation," October 6, 2009
- WMFD-TV, "Board of Elections Will Present Letter To Secretary Of State," January 5, 2010
- Mansfield News Journal, "Pastors oppose recall of Mayor Culliver," August 21, 2009
- Mansfield News Journal, "Mansfield mayoral recall petitions filed today," September 8, 2009
- Mansfield News Journal, "Mayoral recall petition might fall short," September 10, 2009