The special election to recall Woodmere Village Council president Jennifer Mitchell Earley and members Lisa Brockwell, Glenda Todd Miller and Craig Wade on Jan. 19 was canceled Dec. 7.
A residents’ group formed and led by attorney Rachel A. Kabb-Effron was – and still is – spearheading the effort. Called Woodmere Project, the group said the four were responsible for the lack of a sidewalk on Brainard Road, an outdated website and other issues. They have submitted new petitions for a recall election.
Earley notified the Cleveland Jewish News of the canceled recall.
“I don’t usually make it a practice to speak to the media, on the record or off, concerning issues in the Village of Woodmere,” Earley said in an unsolicited email to the CJN on Dec. 7. “However, since you reported on the recall efforts, I thought you’d be interested to know that the Jan. 19, 2021, recall election has been rescinded/canceled.”
She said the issue was discussed during a Cuyahoga County Board of Elections Board Meeting earlier that morning. Despite her reiterating she doesn’t make it a practice to speak to the media about city matters, she agreed to a telephone interview with the Cleveland Jewish News on Dec. 7.
She said the narrative around the recall election had “gotten so out of hand” that she felt compelled to speak out “for her residents’ sake.”
“The first issue that popped up that grabbed my attention was that we had some elderly residents who did not realize they were signing a petition for a recall,” Earley said Dec. 7. “Instead, they thought they were signing a petition to simply get sidewalks.”
Earley’s statement echoes a concern Miller shared with the CJN on Nov. 18. The following day, the CJN reported Miller had said, “I talked to some residents, and they were asked to sign a petition that was based off of a sidewalk, and they had no idea that it had to do with the recall. So, I just don’t think there was true transparency when they were petitioning.”
Both council members agreed it is important for residents to know what they are signing, especially when the special recall election would have pulled on the village’s purse strings. Earley said it would have cost the village $2,500.
Earley also shared concerns regarding the legality of the recall petitions submitted by Woodmere Project – circulator information was missing, causing them to be withdrawn and re-filed.
But according to Ohio laws and rules, no alterations, corrections or additions may be made to a petition after it is filed in a public office and a circulator statement cannot be corrected or completed after the petitions have been filed.
Cuyahoga County Board of Elections Director Anthony W. Perlatti could not speak about whether residents knew what they were signing or not. He told the CJN Dec. 9 petitioners in Woodmere initially did not meet the minimum number of required signatures that are needed for an election.
When petitions are deemed not sufficient, “and one of the forms of insufficient is not enough signatures,” Perlatti said, petitioners have about a 20-day window to fix the petition. Typically, supplemental petitions are submitted then reviewed by the board of elections. If everything looks good, the Board of Elections provides the village, city or town with the supplemental petitions, so all of the numbers can be added up.
“We viewed what we thought were the supplemental petitions, verified them, provided that back to the city and those two documents combined hit the minimum number of signatures needed,” Perlatti said of the situation in Woodmere. “Therefore, the clerk went through the charter, served notice of that and an election date was set. We come to find out after the fact that, actually, those initial petitions that we reviewed were withdrawn by the petitioners.”
Perlatti said that means those petitions are null and void for all intents and purposes.
“They’re not any part of the equation,” Perlatti said. “We didn’t realize that – didn’t know that – when we received the second set of petitions that we thought were supplemental petitions. Those actually were now a new set of initial petitions.”
Although the Jan. 19 special recall election was canceled, Perlatti said the Woodmere Project has since provided sufficient paperwork. He does not know when a new election might be scheduled.
Council’s other newcomers Tennyson Adams, Vivian J. Walker and Nakeshia Nickerson are the only members not up for recall.
Multiple attempts to reach Kabb-Effron were unsuccessful.