A group of residents in Huber Heights is a step closer to getting their councilwoman removed from office.
The city council adopted an ordinance Monday night to place a recall election for Ward 2 Councilwoman Janell Smith on the ballot.
The recall efforts stem from a petition filed by a local group, Huber Heights Ward 2 United for a Better Tomorrow, which says it collected more than 600 signatures.
Smith read a prepared statement at Monday night’s city council meeting, saying she believes “corrosive influences” in the city are behind the recall efforts.
“I firmly believe the voters will send a message, that they meant what they said when they elected me in 2015,” Smith said. “The days of the old system in this city are numbered.”
Leaders of Huber Heights Ward 2 United for a Better Tomorrow have said they believe Smith is unfit for office, citing a previous council meeting where Smith claimed city employees told her a recently-approved water pressure project would have no effect on the water pressure. City manager Rob Schommer said he investigated Smith’s claim and discovered it is unfounded.
The residents’ group declined our request for an interview, but said in a statement, in part: “It is our committee’s belief that Councilwoman Smith’s own words and action reflect she either falsified information about two city staff members or she withheld crucial information from her council colleagues that could have affected a vote on the multi-million dollar water pressure project.”
But at Monday night’s city council meeting, Smith received support from residents.
“I can communicate with Ms. Smith, and she can tell me the things that I need to know, which is sad because my councilperson is not available,” said Mary Caperton, a Ward 3 resident.
According to Gerald McDonald, Huber Heights law director, the city’s charter required council members to approve putting the recall on the ballot if the petition met all the requirements, even though some council members expressed concern.
Residents we spoke with on both sides said they’re glad they’ll have a say in the matter.
“I also think it’s very important that other residents have a chance to voice their concerns,” said Justin Jennings. “So I’m glad that they did let it stay open to a referendum that way all citizens can have a voice.”
Residents have the opportunity to counter the recall with referendum efforts, McDonald said.
Because council members chose not to approve an “emergency” ordinance, it’s not yet clear whether or not the recall will make the November ballot or if it will have to wait until February, according to city officials.