The Election Commission took action Thursday afternoon to allow a group to seek the recall of City Councilman Chris Anderson.
The group will have to get the required 1,600 valid signatures by April 10 if it is to be on the August ballot.
They have until April 29 to get it on the November ballot.
Voting in favor were Jerry Summers, Kelvin Scott and Ruth Braly. There was an issue over whether Tommy Crangle should vote since he has picked up papers to run for the state House. He said he did not vote because the issue was already decided, but he said he would have voted in favor. Mike Walden said the chairman does not have to vote unless there is a tie.
Attorney Stuart James said the recall was being brought because Councilman Anderson is openly gay and championed a controversial domestic partners ordinance.
Several community members said they knew Mr. Anderson was gay when he ran. They said they were unhappy because he had not delivered on campaign promises.
Councilman Anderson said he will fight the recall effort as hard as he campaigned for office.
Calling the matter a "distraction," he said, "It's an outrageous waste of taxpayer money and resources."
He said he already had been able to get a new park at 45th Street and street improvements in East Lake and St. Elmo.
He said, "Fighting this is the right thing to do."
Charles Wysong, who was a leader in the successful effort to get a vote in August to try to overturn the domestic partners ordinance, said he is confident that the group can come up with the required signatures in time for the August election.
He said he is not from District 7 but had been asked to help out with the recall by some District 7 citizens.
Mr. Summers, who is an attorney, made the motion to approve the recall effort, though he said he believes the recall statute is extremely vague. He also said such recalls "can set a dangerous precedent."
But he said the electon panel just serves a "ministerial function" in approving such measures.
Charlotte Mullis Morgan, election administrator, said the state election office had approved the form of the petition.
Attorney James said, "This man is being recalled because he's gay. If he was a straight man, would he be sitting here."
Gill Schropshire of Alton Park said, "This ain't got nothing to do with it. We felt like we had a candidate who was going to deliver on his promises. He didn't deliver and he disrespected me."
The recall group released this "OPEN LETTER TO: Mayor Andy Berke and members of the Chattanooga City Council."
The Alton Park and Piney Woods Associations along with pastors from the Community and residents of East Lake and St. Elmo have found it necessary to recall Councilman Chris Anderson.
Whereas, this was a very painful decision to make, we have found it necessary due to several reasons.
1. Councilman Chris Anderson has failed to respond to more than 48 phone calls.
2. Chris Anderson has failed to meet his obligations and has neglected the most distressed area of District 7. The Black residents that make up the majority of his district have been very neglected and poorly represented. When he ran for office, he promised the people in District 7 that he would not be a repeat of Manny Rico and that the Community would have leadership that would finally bring help to our Community.
We told him that we would support him, but we would not tolerate another year of neglect from any of our leaders, but if he did not hold to his words that we would recall him.
3. Chris Anderson has not fulfilled his promise to the people and has not addressed any of our community concerns: (1) Housing, (2) Economic development, (3) Jobs, (4) Reduction in crime.
Mr. Anderson instead has appeased those who apparently funded his campaign and has catered to special interest groups while neglecting his constituents.
4. Chris Anderson has repeatedly shown disrespect toward the Community Leaders in Alton Park and Piney Woods and has publically humiliated them by making such statements as: “I don’t have to meet with you,” and “I can’t undo years of neglect from my predecessors and it’s not my problem.” He has also referred to our leaders as being “uncivil,” “uneducated,” and referring to the people who live in our district as “those people.”
5. We find it strange that Chris Anderson has always brought a witness to our meetings, and two of our meetings had to be forced upon him by the intervention of Councilman Moses Freeman.
Mr. Anderson was so disrespectful of our Community that he brought Neighborhood Presidents of other Neighborhood Associations to sit in our private meetings without our approval. We will not tolerate this form of bigotry. Chris Anderson has shown that he does not respect us and because of his actions, it has caused us not to trust him.
6. Chris Anderson has failed to show genuine support for Community Projects. He has repeatedly stated that our Community does not have the capacity while ignoring the number of experts within our Community.
7. The people of our Community have lost Community trust in Chris Anderson based upon his lack of communication, disrespect of our leaders, and his display of arrogance and lack of care or concern about the many children and adults dying on our streets. Instead he fights for the rights for chickens to be raised in his backyard and domestic partnership benefits, neither of which were mentioned as his platform.
8. Whereas, we realize that Chris Anderson’s predecessors were just as negligent as he is, we the people will not tolerate another year and another leader mistreating our people and showing signs of prejudice and disregard for our people who are suffering daily and whose leader has not addressed one single issue he promised that he would.
This Petition was started by a collaborative effort from the residents across District 7. We requested assistance from some members from the Tea Party in drafting the Recall Petition correctly. After we contacted them, and once they learned that we had no legal support or experience in doing a Recall Petition, they helped us. To our knowledge, this was the first time someone has reached out to our Community to help us and then followed through and kept their word.
Finally, we are demanding that the City government give this Community their fair share of funding from federal and taxpayers’ dollars that we are entitled to. We are requesting a full investigation on the past 25 years of funds allocated to this Community.
Stuart James addresses Election Commission