Recall petition fails to qualify

Published 4:18 am Wednesday, July 12, 2017

On Jan. 3, a group of Bogalusa citizens filed a petition with the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office requesting a recall election for Mayor Wendy Perrette as well as at-large city council members Doug Ritchie and Teddy Drummond.

The petitioning committee, chaired by Malcolm Moses, and with Keith Merrill as vice chairman, was given 180 days to get at least a third of the qualified electors in the city to sign the petition.

That number amounted to more than 2,250, according to information provided by the Washington Parish Registrar of Voters office.

On July 3, the time was up, and the petition had fallen well short.

“We got between 950 and 1,100 — about a thousand,” Moses said. “That wasn’t enough to justify a recall.”

He offered a theory about why the group didn’t get enough signatures to mount a recall election.

“Some people were in fear of being harassed or losing their jobs or getting laid off if they signed,” said Moses. “Some were fearful of not getting promotions. To me, that’s a strategy that’s been played in the political arena for a long time: to strike fear to challenge government and its departments. Some were just apathetic about the recall.

“But the problem with that is people don’t want to fight for change if they’re not getting services. Nobody wants to rattle the cage. On an overall basis people don’t want mediocrity, but they have a reluctance to step forward to challenge authority.”

Perrette said she didn’t have any information about the petition’s failure.

“I’ve thought of it as a distraction to begin with, and have stayed true to the course of daily work and business as usual,” she said.

“The people who filed this petition haven’t had anything positive to say about any administration here. They were here long before I got in, and they’ll be here after I’m gone. They have been nothing but negative — never anything positive. They’re only here to create controversy, not unity.”

Drummond said he is still trying to figure out why the group started the petition.

“I’m still trying to find out the reason for starting it in the first place,” he said. “But if they put half that energy towards blight, education, or public safety they might have made an impact.”

Moses said “the fight” would continue.

“You have to be motivated by love,” he said. “If I didn’t love my family and my community, I could just sit at home and do nothing.”

Ritchie said, “I do not have any idea of how many signatures they got. It is their right to file a recall petition if they are registered voters. I have no problem with that. It is over, and time to move forward for our city.”