Steve Hunter recall, Richwood, Louisiana 2009
Richwood recall petition rally
Six months after he was recalled, Steve Hunter was re-elected to the post of Mayor in Richwood.
The recall petition drive was started in August 2008, a month after Hunter took office. Controversy in the town began in July 2008 over an investigation into the fiscal practices of former Mayor Ed Harris. State police began an investigation at that time of possible illegal payments to town employees by Harris. This included Harris writing more than $70,000 in severance and vacation checks to employees days before the Hunter administration took office. Recall supporters said they mostly supported Ed Harris.
According to Mayor Hunter, "For the most part, our citizens don't understand the way government goes."
Mayor Hunter claims that the recall petition was wrongly certified and that there are several problems with the signatures. Included in the allegations were claims that 75 signatures on the petition were forged, some signatures didn't match the dates the signatures were witnessed and some forms had missing dates of birth. Additionally, Hunter argued that the secretary of state failed to notify all elected officials within 24 hours and failed to send a copy of the petition by registered mail to the District Clerk of Court's office.
On October 6, 2009 a judge was expected to rule on a motion that sought to dismiss the recall effort to oust Richwood Mayor Steve Hunter. On October 13, 2009 the Louisiana 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed the ruling by 4th District Judge Wilson Rambo. Rambo previously ruled against Hunter's lawsuit that claimed that the recall petition was wrongly certified and that there were several problems with the signatures. According to reports, however, Hunter is prepared to appeal the case to the Louisiana Supreme Court.
Rocky path to the ballot
Supporters of the recall effort said they endured a "roller coaster ride" in the process of getting the recall question certified for the ballot. 356 valid signatures were required to force the recall, or 33% of the 1,068 qualified voters in Richmond.
In December 2008, petitioners filed recall petitions with 414 names. The Registrar of Voters removed 112 names citing a variety of reasons. The primary reason was a mismatch between the signature on the petition and the signatures on voter registration cards. According to recall supporters and people who signed the petition, the mismatch was caused not by the fact that they did not sign the petition but because in many cases their signatures on voter registration cards were signed many years ago and their signatures have subsequently changed enough to cause a mismatch. At one point the recall effort was abandoned.
- The News Star, "Recall election planned for Hunter," July 17, 2009
- The News Star, "Richwood residents oust Hunter," October 18, 2009
- News Star, "Hunter: 'It's time to get back to work'," April 5, 2010
- The News Star, "Richwood mayor seeks to stop recall," October 2, 2009
- The News Star, "Judge to rule on Hunter bid to end recall," October 6, 2009
- The News Star, "UPDATE: 5:22 p.m.: Richwood recall case hits snag; Rambo to rule on motion Tuesday," October 5, 2009
- The News Star, "Richwood recall election advancing," October 15, 2009
- News Star, "330 sign to remove Richwood mayor," December 17, 2008
- Monroe Free Press, "Clock running out on recall, tempers flare," January 16, 2009 (timed out)
- News Star, "Richwood resident ends recall effort," January 20, 2009