Signers deliver hundreds of recall votes

COLUMBIA, Mo 12/06/14 (Beat Byte) -- Four Columbia groups that united to oust First Ward Councilwoman Ginny Chadwick will submit over 400 recall petition signatures to city clerk Sheela Amin Monday, 61% more than the 249 required

The groups draw heavily from the Councilwoman's First Ward constituents, with members of Students for Sensible Drug Policy; National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws; Keep Columbia Free; and the newly-formed CoMo Council Watch.

Signature gatherers launched the drive just over a month ago, after they say Ms. Chadwick broke a campaign promise to support marijuana decriminalization.  Her vote against a city ordinance to reduce penalties for marijuana cultivation defeated the measure four votes to three, catalyzing a broader movement to seek her ouster. 

"With her ardent support of the Opus apartment project and her proposal to ban alcohol consumption exclusively in Douglass Park,  Ms. Chadwick struck some very sour notes with First Ward residents," said CoMo Council Watch spokesperson Pam Cooper.   "Consequently, First Warders have been very eager to sign the petition." 

Members of Cooper's organization came to the Chadwick recall with significant experience:  they collected thousands of signatures to halt the Opus project  in two petition drives that objected to use of public funds to pay for sewer, water, electric, police, fire, and other infrastructure the project needs. 

Though Ms. Chadwick also promised to vote against the 200+ unit downtown student apartment during her 2013-14 campaign, she became its most vocal supporter shortly after the election.   She has defended her positions, more than once with claims she changed her mind after learning more details.  

If Amin ultimately validates the required signatures, voters can decide to keep Chadwick or vote her out in April.  If she is ousted, the Columbia City Charter requires a special election to replace her.  

"I have no doubt that when the time comes, they will eagerly vote to remove her from office," said Cooper, whose group advocates for responsive and responsible Columbia city government. 

*Correction Note:  An earlier version said the petitioners needed 294 signatures for the recall.