Petitioner submits signatures for mayor’s recall

Gearhart Mayor Dianne Widdop

The Clatsop County Clerk and Elections Office is verifying signatures on a petition circulated by Gearhart resident Harold Gable in an effort to remove Mayor Dianne Widdop from office.

Gable submitted 114 signatures Feb. 11 to Gearhart City Administrator Chad Sweet, who serves as the city elections official. Sweet confirmed the number of signatures and that the forms were completed correctly. The information then went to Clatsop County elections officials, who will verify the signatures.

Gable needed to submit 102 verified signatures — or 15 percent of the total votes cast for governor in Gearhart’s district during the most recent election — by next week’s deadline to continue the recall process.

If the required number of signatures are verified, officials will notify Widdop, who then will have five days to submit her resignation or a statement of justification no more than 200 words to be included on the election ballot.

County elections officials informed Sweet they intend to have the signatures verified within the next two weeks.

Gable has a team of individuals ready, he said, to go after more signatures before the deadline if some of the submitted signatures are not qualified. He believes that should not be an issue.

“I feel we’ve already got that done,” Gable said.

He felt the collection of signatures went well and they gathered “more than enough.”

“We had a great team of people,” he said. “We would have liked to get another hundred or so, but I think if it goes to vote, it will show up there.”

Even once the signatures are verified, his work is not done, he said.

“We’re in for whatever it takes,” he added.

If Widdop does not resign, an election must be held within 35 days of the expiration of the resignation period.

Gearhart will incur the cost of the election, which is estimated at about $6,000 to $8,000 and not previously included in the city’s budget, Sweet said. Already the city has spent time and money to handle the situation, he added.

In the event Widdop is voted out of office, City Council President Sue Lorain will serve the remainder of Widdop’s term — about two years — and the council will appoint someone to fill her vacated seat.

Gable said he’s confident the recall will be successful and that it would be in the city’s best interest for Widdop to resign to avoid the city spending money on an election.

Widdop said Monday she has made her decision about resigning or submitting a statement and that she would not comment until she is officially notified that the signatures are verified.

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