HUBER HEIGHTS, Ohio (WDTN) – Councilwoman Janell Smith said recall efforts against her are rooted in sexism.
Thursday, the embattled Ward 2 councilwoman fired back at a group calling for her removal from office.
“I think this is exactly a well-orchestrated smear campaign to attack my credibility and my character,” Smith said.
Her remarks came several days after the Huber Heights city council passed an ordinance to place a recall for Smith on the ballot. The recall was prompted by a petition, which garnered more than 600 signatures, circulated by the a group of residents called Ward 2 United for a Better Tomorrow.
The PAC believes Smith lied or skewed information to jeopardize a multi-million dollar water pressure project.
Thursday, the councilwoman responded to the criticism and defended her ‘no’ vote on the project, saying she wasn’t comfortable passing the project if engineers couldn’t guarantee it would fully benefit the tax payers footing the bill.
She cited an email from city engineer Russ Bergman which stated, “The main reason that we feel that this project is needed is for fire suppression purposes along the entire Executive Boulevard are. The residential increase is just an added benefit.”
Furthermore, Smith claimed the entire controversy surrounding the water pressure project was a ploy from her fellow council members to publicly condemn her.
She explained, “I am a strong-willed woman who is being discriminated against and persecuted because I ask tough questions ina heavily-guarded ‘good old boys’ network.”
Smith pointed to several instances she was denied travel opportunities when male council members were granted funds for the same trips. She alleged Mayor Jeff Gore did not communicate with her like he did with other council members and acted “hostile” to her at times.
2 NEWS reached out to Mayor Gore for comment, but did not receive a response at the time of publishing.
The PAC petitioning Smith has not granted interviews, choosing instead to release statements because of concerns for its members privacy.
In response to Smith’s allegations that the recall efforts were a coordinated campaign from Mayor Gore or other council members, the group said, “Let’s be clear; the organizers of this PAC are well informed as they educate themselves on the issues, attend/watch Council Meetings and Work Sessions via live stream or recorded video…”
Several Ward 2 constituents and other Huber Heights residents showed support and vouched for Smith’s character Thursday. Some corroborated her claim that petitioners gathered signatures without disclosing the petition was for her recall.
“I spoke to one of my closest friends who was approached to sign the petition and she said, after speaking with me, she felt she did sign it under false pretense,” said Ward 2 resident Shona Chau.
The PAC responded, “The Councilwoman continues to toss around accusations of shady dealings, sexism and corruption without any evidence of such. It is clear that Councilwoman Smith has not matured in the method that she handles disagreements with fellow Council members and/or her constituents which further validates the PAC’s concern that she is not fit for office.”
Voters will have the final say in November or during a special election in February.