ENID, Okla. — A vote to recall and replace Ward 3 Commissioner Ben Ezzell could appear on the same ballot as the election for his successor in February.
Two election dates are available for a recall: Nov. 3 and Feb. 9, the latter the city’s ward elections for commissioners, including Ward 3.
More than 200 signatures were recorded on a petition requesting an election to recall Ezzell submitted to the Enid City Clerk on Tuesday morning, City Attorney Carol Lahman said Tuesday.
Enid Freedom Fighters organized and filed the petition in response to Ezzell’s proposal for the city of Enid to adopt and enforce the state’s COVID-19 alert system, as well as a widely circulated city email criticizing Enid’s police chief for his unwillingness to enforce a previous mask mandate proposal. which failed last month.
The proposed mandate declaration was voted down, 4-3, Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2020, at a special commission meeting at Stride Bank Center.
City Attorney Carol Lahman said the recall appearing on the November ballot is “likely,” but that “time is short.”
City Clerk Alissa Lack, who has 10 days to certify a petition and verify the signatures, said Tuesday the petition is insufficient in its current state.
However, the petition does not need to be amended, Lahman later said Tuesday night, as the back certification saying all signatures were collected at people’s homes actually also included that signees could show they lived in Ward 3. The group collected some Saturday on Varsity Square on 30th, according a press release.
Signatures are collected at homes as a voter ID verification process in the city charter, she said.
The group now has two options to review the petition: Verify the IDs of at least the minimum required voters in the current petition or submit a new one. Neither option has a firm deadline. To assist, the city can mark through signatures of those not registered in Ward 3, Lahman said.
The petition requires 69 signatures since city charter requires the signatures of 30% of the last contested ward election, which would be 2013, when 230 people voted and Ezzell was first elected, Lahman said.
To hold a November recall election, after the group amends and Lack certifies the petition, the mayor and city commission would have to vote by Aug. 18. Agendas must be posted 24 hours prior, per the state Open Meetings Act.
Aug. 19 is the deadline for a city question to appear on the November ballot, Lahman said, as the Garfield County Election Board requires 75 days notice.
A second deadline also would be required for other candidates to file to replace Ezzell in the period between his possible recall and the next commissioner’s term.
However, a February election also is possible, rendering moot the nearer August deadlines.
Ezzell, whose second and final term expires in May, called the petition an “enormous waste of time” because the next election would possibly be the same as the one for his replacement.
“I think I have used my best judgment to make decisions that benefit the entire community,” he said.
Lahman said the petition organizers told her they are aware of Ezzell’s term limit. Brian Henry, with the Freedom Fighters, said the group will meet with Lack on Wednesday to discuss how to verify the petition.