MEIGS — Some Meigs residents have had enough and have begun the difficult process of attempting to recall their mayor, Linda Harris.
“People talk and talk and talk about the problems with our mayor,” said Lori White, chair of the recall petition drive. “Someone needs to try to do something about her. It may not work, but at least we made a stand.”
White runs Meigs’ Hometown Treasure Bank Cafe with her mother, Gail White. It is one of the town’s few viable businesses.
“We have projects and opportunities that we should be talking about during our council meetings, but we can’t address those because all she can do is talk about her problems with the city manager,” Lori said.
Her mother questioned, “What are her problems with Sid (Perry, the city manager)? He’s doing an outstanding job. We just received a glowing audit from this year’s auditors.”
“We have been hoping for months that they could resolve their issues, but the mayor is completely against any kind of agreement,” Lori said.
“Our town is important to us. I have a seven-year old son and a grandson. This is our home,” she continued. “We should be tapping into some advancement opportunities available to Meigs, but we can’t do it in this environment.”
Residents are worried about the fallout from the numerous lawsuits filed against Meigs. According to Perry, the city has been hit with six lawsuits that total over $200,000 and were caused by the actions of Harris. The town’s liability insurance will be canceled in November because of those lawsuits.
The Whites pointed to Harris’ threatening demeanor and attempts to intimidate.
Gail said, “We own the cafe and some property in Meigs. We try to go to meetings, but this is a circus. She threatens people and tries to intimidate people who want to speak.
“It’s not a good situation.”
Lori agreed, “At the last meeting, Mayor Harris threatened the entire audience with removal. It was an abuse of power.”
According to Frank Scoggins, Thomas County Elections supervisor, the recall process has several steps. He gave only the steps for a recall in general, not specifically relating to Meigs.
First, those requesting the recall must show “just cause.” Under O.C.G.A. § 21-4-3(7)(B), 21-4-4(c), “Every public official who holds elective office ... is subject to recall on the grounds that such public official has, while holding public office, conducted himself or herself in a manner which relates to and adversely affects the administration of his or her current office and adversely affects the rights and interests of the public AND the official has committed an act or acts of malfeasance while in office; has violated his or her oath of office; has committed an act of misconduct in office; is guilty of a failure to perform duties prescribed by laws, or has willfully misused, converted, or misappropriated, without authority, public property or public funds entrusted to or associated with the elective office to which the official has been elected or appointed.”
Second, to apply for a petition to recall, residents must collect signatures of 10 percent of those voters registered to vote during the time the official was elected. In this case it would be 39 registered voters in 2013, according to Gail.
Those signatures would need to be certified by Scoggins, who would then be required to notify Harris of the recall petition. Harris would then have ten days to appeal.
Next, the petition would be issued. To be successful, 30 percent of the voters registered in 2013, or approximately 116 Meigs voters, would have to sign the petition.
Once the required signatures are collected, Scoggins would call for a Recall, Special Election. Voters would answer “yes” or “no” to whether Harris, should be recalled.
If voters determine she should be recalled, Scoggins would then call for a Special Election to fill the mayor’s position.
“The recalled candidate can run in the next election,” said Scoggins.
According to Georgia State Attorney Jennifer Colangelo, “The process for a recall election is difficult.”
But even though it may be difficult, the Whites think people will step forward.
“We need support,” said Lori. “The mayor has a good degree of support and they’re going to try to fire Sid (Perry).”
She explained that there are others who are trying to get something done in Meigs and others that just don’t want to be involved.
“We need everybody to come forward and support this effort,” she said.