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Recall of Riverdale mayor fails

By Justin Boron

The coalition of citizens pushing to dislodge the Riverdale mayor from office fell flat Friday after a 5 p.m. petition deadline passed without the delivery of the 2,000 signatures needed to recall Phaedra Graham.

The missed deadline all but mutes the disdainful outcry against Graham, who many citizens charged with resistance to the City Council and mishandling of public money.

Leroy Jones, who spearheaded the recall attempt, acted confused when he heard about the missed deadline, standing in silence for close to 30 seconds unwilling to respond.

Mumbling incoherent statements, Jones eventually got out a reply before he hung up the phone abruptly.

"No one told me what happened. I'm going to find out what happened," he said.

Jones had said hours before that he expected the signatures to be delivered to the City Hall. He said he did not know if a sufficient number of signatures had been gathered.

Jerry Harrington, a member of the citizen group collecting the signatures, said he collected 50 signatures but did not expect a petition to be filed by the deadline.

The conflicting statements serve to illustrate the disorganization under which Harrington said the recall attempt was made.

"It wasn't a real strong effort. Just more or less an attention getter to the mayor," he said. "It wasn't organized or anything."

In the weeks leading up to the petition due date, signature collectors did little to coordinate efforts and rarely communicated with each other, Harrington said.

Some of the disgruntled citizens said the attempt alone forced Graham to reform.

"I just want her to take care of the city," Harrington said. "I think that's what is going to take place."

The recall also ends a series of recall attempts this summer in which citizens tried to recall Council members Rick Scoggins and Wanda Wallace but could not get a sufficient number of signatures required for one.