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Riverdale mayor's recall moves forward

By Greg Gelpi

Efforts to recall Riverdale Mayor Phaedra Graham are moving forward with the first hurdle cleared.

The petition needed 100 signatures to proceed with the recall, and Riverdale City Clerk Sandra Meyers said the petition started by Leroy Jones collected 128 confirmed signatures.

Jones listed more than six pages of accusations, charging Graham with malfeasance while in office, violations of her oath, misconduct in office, failure to perform her duties as mayor and mishandling public money or property.

Jones, the petition chairperson, though, denied having anything to do with the petition and the recall.

Meanwhile, Graham read a one-sentence response to the recall effort and declined any other comment. "I deny the accusations as alleged," Graham said.

Jerry W. Harrington, a retired General Motors employee and resident of Riverdale since 1968, collected some of the signatures and is pushing the recall forward.

Harrington said he is "just concerned about the way things are going in the city."

The mayor and city council have disagreed in the past, but not like the disagreements since Graham took office, he said.

"The mayor and city council don't seem to be agreeing on anything," Harrington said. "If the council would go one way, the mayor would go the other. If the mayor would go one way, the city council would go the other."

The four council members couldn't always be wrong, Harrington said.

The recall effort has 30 days to collect signatures of 30 percent of those who were registered to vote for Graham in the November election, Meyers said, adding that that would be about 2,000 signatures.

If Jones does collect the signatures, there would be a special election in which Graham could run again.

An effort to recall city council members Rick Scoggins and Wanda Wallace in June failed for not having enough signatures. Although the effort collected the required 100, only 77 were qualified signatures.

Riverdale resident and Clarkston police officer Devele Andrews filed the petition for the recall of the council members and had said the recall would expand to everyone on the four-member board.

Andrews had said he was initiating the recall because of activities by the council that violate the city charter and state law.

"I can prove that (they) held private meetings and handed out money without it being brought to the council floor," Andrews said at the time.