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Recall effort takes first step

By Kevin Liles

A Riverdale man has completed one step in the process of recalling two city council members

Devele Andrews, a police officer in Clarkston, filed an application for a petition Tuesday with the Clayton County Registrar's Office to recall the representatives.

Andrews and two others collected 100 signatures from Riverdale citizens for the application to recall council members Wanda Wallace and Rick Scoggins.

Andrews, who has lived in Riverdale for two years, said he is 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," he said of the four-member council.

Wallace refutes the accusations.

"There are no facts there," Wallace said. "This is triggered over allegations that aren't true. If I felt that I had done something wrong, believe me, I would be out there defending myself."

Scoggins could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Annie Bright, elections director for Clayton County, said she has four days to verify the 100 signatures. A superior court judge will then hear Andrews, along with Wallace and Scoggins. The judge will then decide if a recall can take place, Bright said.

If so, Andrews would have to gather signatures from 30 percent of Riverdale's registered voters. Council member Kenny Ruffin said Riverdale has about 5,000 registered voters.

Andrews also plans to recall council members Ruffin and Michelle Bruce, but must wait until they've been in office 180 days. Both began their four-year terms in January.

A special election would be held, and the recalled officials could run again for the seats, Andrews said.

Riverdale Mayor Phaedra Graham isn't included in Andrews recall efforts. Andrews, who has donated $150 to her election campaign, said she was not targeted because city council members have the real power; she only votes when there is a tie.

Ruffin said the recall is in response to the termination of Riverdale Police Capt. Philip Neely. Co-City Interim Manager Sylvester Murray sent a letter to Neely May 11 explaining that he was fired in connection with an investigation into comments he made alleging another city employee had threatened him.

"This has nothing to do with the allegations," Ruffin said. "He's just mad about Neely."

Andrews used Neely as a reference when he applied for a police officer position with the Riverdale Police Department, Ruffin said.

A hearing will be held June 25 concerning Neely's position, Ruffin said. Iris Jessie has replaced Sylvester and Ulysses Ford, who both served as interim managers for Riverdale.

Ruffin and Wallace said one person collecting signatures unknowingly came to their houses asking for signatures.

A recall should take place, but council members should not be the target of it, Ruffin said.

"There's only one person left," he said, referring to Graham.