Enid City Commissioner Ben Ezzell is appealing a judge’s ruling allowing his recall election to proceed in February.

Ezzell filed his petition in error in Garfield County District Court on Monday, further prolonging the legal dispute that has swirled around his recall since he initially objected to the petition in August.

Appellate attorney David Collins, representing Ezzell, filed the motion in Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday, with an additional motion to expedite the appeal on the fast-track docket.

Ezzell on Monday also filed a motion requesting the district court stay the election during the appellate process or until a ruling is made, stating the issues raised in the appeal would be rendered moot if an election took place.

In his filing, Ezzell argues the district court erred when it found the recall petition “implicitly” complied with the Enid City Charter despite the circulators not explicitly stating under oath that the statements contained are believed to be true and the signatures belong to the persons whose name they purport to be.

He also argues the court erred by not finding the petitioners failed under state law to include on each petition form a felony “warning” statement containing the language, “It is a felony for anyone to sign a recall petition with any name other than his own, or knowingly to sign his name more than once to the measure, or to sign such petition when he is not a legal voter.”

Judge Allison Lafferty, of Blaine County, ruled on Nov. 19 that the disputed recall petition was sufficient, upholding Enid City Clerk Alissa Lack’s Aug. 7 certification. An order was filed in lieu of an in-person hearing that was ultimately canceled due to COVID-19.

In her order, Lafferty wrote that the court was unwilling to interpret the “procedural rubric” to challenge a city clerk’s certification beyond state statute, “without more specific direction from the Oklahoma Supreme Court.”

The special election is set for Feb. 9, 2021, the same day as the regular election to select a Ward 3 successor for Ezzell, who is term-limited through May. The winner of the recall election would take office immediately for the remainder of Ezzell’s four-year term.

Along with Collins as attorney for the appellant, Tony Puckett is listed as attorney for appellee, representing the city of Enid, and Stephen Jones as attorney for intervenors, representing the circulators of the petition.

Jones said Tuesday the intervenors would be opposing the stay.

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Ewald is copy editor and city/education reporter for the Enid News & Eagle.

Have a question about this story? Do you see something we missed? Send an email to aewald@enidnews.com.

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