City council recalls

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The office of city councilperson

In the United States, most towns and cities have a city council and a mayor. Depending on the government of a city, the mayor and city council may fill different roles. If the city council and mayor only serve part-time, a city manager may make executive decisions to help run the city.

Placing a city councilperson recall vote on the ballot

As with most recall efforts, the recall of a city councilperson often begins when an individual or group decides to take action because they are dissatisfied with a city councilperson's job performance.

Just one person who disapproves of a politician's performance can begin a recall effort.

An application or other document must be filed with the appropriate city official to begin a recall effort. The city official determines the number of signatures needed qualify for a recall election. Generally the number of signatures to be obtained corresponds to a certain percentage of the votes cast during the last election for the office of the city councilperson to be potentially recalled.

Depending on when a recall effort begins, the time frame to obtain the needed signatures varies. Once the required signatures are obtained and submitted, the signatures must be verified. In some cities or towns, a certain percentage of signatures must be obtained from individuals who voted in the last election and now want to see the city councilperson removed from office.

Laws governing the recall of a city councilperson vary among cities and towns located in states throughout the United States. Some states, such as Arizona and Colorado, provide for the recall of any elected public officeholder in their state constitutions.[1] Some states only allow a recall vote to proceed for specific grounds. Georgia's Constitution allows the recall of local and state officials in an elected office. However, the grounds for a recall must relate to conduct which adversely affects the public, violates the oath of office or a failure to perform duties prescribed by law, among others.[1]

Some cities and towns specify a special election must be held within a short time frame after the signatures supporting a recall vote have been verified. In other municipalities, a recall is placed on the ballot during the next regularly scheduled election.

Recall elections

Recall elections, especially when they require a special election, can be expensive. Taxpayers foot the bill for the costs of the election. Individuals or groups must pay the costs to bring the recall effort to a vote.

Though efforts to recall politicians at all levels of government have increased in recent years, most recall efforts are unsuccessful. Many recall efforts fail due to a lack of money or a failure to put forth a viable candidate to replace the politician being recalled.

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See also



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