Group leading recall effort in Avon submits signatures
A group trying to recall three members of the Avon Town Council submitted signatures Monday to try to force a special recall election.
The recall effort targets three of seven members of the Avon Town Council — Amy Phillips, Tamra Underwood, and Mayor Sarah Smith Hymes, though Phillips cannot be recalled through a special election because she is already up for reelection in November.
The Avon Recall Committee had until 5 p.m. Monday to turn in enough signatures from registered town voters for each of the three recall petitions — an amount of signatures equal to at least 25% of the votes cast for each office in the last election, Avon Town Attorney Paul Wisor said.
According to Wisor, more than 600 signatures were submitted for each of the three recall petitions, enough to require the Avon Town Clerk to start the official signature verification process.
The recall petition says Smith Hymes, Phillips and Underwood have not repealed the town of Avon’s longstanding 2% real estate transfer tax. It also states the three councilmembers acted contrary to Avon residents’ desires in a now-defunct effort to use public funds to move the 110-year Hahnewald barn.
“From my feeling, they are going to be overwhelmingly rejected out of office,” said Tom Ruemmler, a supporter of the Avon Recall Committee who ran for Avon Town Council in 2018 and was not elected. “The sentiment is overwhelming in town for these people to resign.”
That sentiment was echoed by Adrienne Perer, a member of the Avon Recall Committee who also ran for Avon Town Council in 2018 and was not elected. “I think it’s important because the people being recalled are not representing the population of Avon,” Perer said.
‘They’re choosing this backdoor way’
Noting that the entire council has reaffirmed the need for the town’s real estate transfer tax, Sarah Smith Hymes said the recall committee’s stated reasons for the recall are frivolous. She called the effort an attempt to subvert the outcome of the last election, noting voter turnout in a special recall election would most likely be much lower than in the upcoming general election.
“Two of the people involved in this recall ran for election last time,” Smith Hymes said. “They could have run candidates in the 2020 election, but they didn’t think they could succeed, so they’re choosing this backdoor way … They are wasting an enormous amount of town resources in pursuit of this.”
Underwood said the recall has been disruptive personally and for the town. “I essentially find it nothing but an intimidation and bullying tool to discourage people from running for council in Avon, in particular female people running for council in Avon,” she said.
Amy Phillips is up for reelection this November. She’s one of six candidates on the ballot running for three seats on the Avon Town Council. Phillips said she’s been the subject of negative and untrue statements made as part of the recall effort.
“The negative things that are untrue and have been said about me for the past two months do concern me,” Phillips said. “In a lot of ways I’m not just campaigning for my seat and reelection, I’m also battling misinformation that has been spread throughout the community, not by every (recall) petitioner, but by some of them.”
Current councilmembers Jennie Fancher and Jake Wolf are term-limited, while Councilmembers Scott Prince and Chico Thuon are not up for reelection this year and not included as part of the recall petition.
Process going forward
The Avon Town Clerk now has until 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 19, to determine if enough valid signatures were submitted for a special recall election to move forward.
“We have more than 600 signatures to review times three, so to go through 1,800 signatures and all the petition papers, it’s going to take a while and I suspect we are going to go until next Monday,” Avon Town Attorney Paul Wisor said.
Next Monday’s determination by the town clerk will be followed by a 15-day protest period that allows people to challenge the decision, followed by a second decision on sufficiency that will be made by a hearings officer, who can be either the town clerk or someone appointed by the Avon Town Council.
If a recall election is warranted, it would then have to be held within 30 to 90 days, Wisor said. The special election ballot would ask voters if they want to recall Sarah Smith Hymes or Tamra Underwood and ask voters to select their potential replacements.
Tom Lotshaw can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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